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Getting My Groove On


1981, Image courtesy of St. Mary's College on

It happened this past week.  Standing in front of a class full of sophomores and juniors, I cracked myself up with a pop-culture reference.  They just stared at me.  Talk about awkward silence.  They had no idea what I was talking about because the reference was to something that was popular when I was in college some *cough* years ago (sorry, I got something stuck in my throat for a moment).  Apparently no one wants their MTV anymore.

In using a pop-culture reference, I was attempting to connect what I was talking about with the students’ lives.  Research suggests that students are more motivated to learn course material if we can relate it to important aspects of their lives.  If we can show what the material means to them, then they are more engaged in the learning process.  My mistake was that my reference was meaningful to me but not to them.

This year’s homecoming theme, “Get in the Groove,” doesn’t have to be limited to our homecoming festivities alone.  I think it is a great reminder to us to link our course material to our students’ lives.  Just don’t make the same mistake I did…and link it to our lives instead of theirs!

Have you ever made a pop-cultural reference that you thought your students would “get” only to hear crickets instead?

For Further Exploration:

See  How Learning Works: 7 Research Based Principles for Smart Teaching by Ambrose, et. al. (2011)  available in CTLT’s Resource Commons and Milner Library.