Guest Contributor: Melisa “Joey” Bryant, Forsyth Technical Community College.
Though every institution and student population has its unique challenges, one person’s success story can often inspire the seeds of your own next great idea. Below, Melisa “Joey” Bryant shares some of the community-building strategies she’s taken at Forsyth Technical Community College. We hope they encourage you in your own quest to build student interaction in your own course or institution.
What are your top tips for encouraging peer-to-peer learning among students? Please share them in the Comments section!
Forsyth Tech is in a diverse community, and our student body reflects that. We have students from many different countries and backgrounds. We strive for every student to have a quality education and to help them prepare for the future. That future will include building relationships with others in their chosen industry. To help facilitate that learning, we must keep in mind that our students are busy, and that some have jobs and families to support. Some students are not able to attend classes due to location or employment, so we have a variety of online and hybrid courses. The students must be able to overcome barriers and work together to be successful. This skill is important in this global environment.
Communication is the largest barrier for any type of class. One of my strategies is the use of group projects. I try to put people in groups where they are meeting new people and must develop those relationships. Some projects are completed in one class period, while others meet for the entire semester.
Another tactic that my students seem to love is a class debate. I separate them into four different groups, they complete their research and then we have a full debate. Everyone is involved and that opens the door for them to develop relationships. Several of my students have told me later that those types of group projects helped them in other classes, because they were not afraid to reach out or speak out. Involving students is the best way to overcome barriers in the classroom.
Melisa “Joey” Bryant is an instructor at the Thomas H. Davis iTEC Center, Forsyth Technical Community College (Winston-Salem, North Carolina).