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Expectations for a Vibrant Learning Environment

The Student in the Learning Process

To maintain a high level of learning and scholarly activity requires the following characteristics
of the student learner:

a) Maintain an atmosphere of academic integrity, respect and civility.

A vibrant learning culture assumes honesty and integrity in one?s work. Academic integrity must
be accepted as a way of life. Respect for teachers and fellow students and civility in voice and
word is necessary.

b) Have a strong work ethic.

Quality learning requires a strong desire to learn, to relearn and to progress. A university
education requires hard work and major time commitment (typically 48-64 hours/week for a 16-
credit load). High quality effort is expected.

c) Manage their time wisely.

Quality learning requires sufficient time to study, analyze, absorb and synthesize knowledge into
understanding. Careful organization and use of time are therefore essential, including beginning
and completing assignments in a timely manner and allowing sufficient time to assimilate
knowledge during exam preparation to maximize learning.

d) Participate actively in class.

Complete class attendance is assumed. A strong learner is an active participant in class, mentally
and verbally, and students should come to class prepared to clarify understanding from out-of-
class readings, assignments and previous lectures.

e) Properly approach out-of-class learning.

The student must understand that he or she is ultimately responsible for his/her own personal
learning process and must respond responsibly to the instructions of the teacher to learn. It is
essential that the learner make proper use of learning tools and strategies as directed by the
teacher (reference material, assignment analysis, follow-up material, etc.). To learn well it is
necessary that assigned readings be studied before class, and it is essential that material from
previous courses be relearned when needed. Furthermore, the necessity of quality written and
oral communication cannot be overemphasized for learning and the future career of the student.
Students must seek help from the teacher and teaching assistant when needed and should take
advantage of university-wide resources for learning if necessary. A healthy and balanced
lifestyle is important.

f) Reflect on the educational process.

It is essential that the student recognize that learning is not memorization of facts, but rather
development of understanding and the integration of knowledge. The learner must therefore
assimilate new material with material from previous courses and must relearn material as
necessary. It is useful to interact with colleagues in the assimilation and clarification of
g) Perform self-assessment.
A student learner should regularly evaluate his/her strengths and weaknesses, effectiveness of
study habits, level of responsibility in learning, and progress toward educational goals. Effort
should be continually directed to improve weaknesses, and to strengthen oral and written
communication skills and group interaction skills. Student portfolios to record and track progress
can be useful for this purpose.

A positive learning environment: establishing

expectations (Part 3)
27 October 2014 by Oxford University Press ELT 2 Comments

This is the third of a four-part series of

articles from Verissimo Toste, an Oxford teacher trainer, about establishing a positive learning environment in
the classroom. Here he shares some exercises to help establish expectations of general behaviour
from students.
We have shown our students what kind of behaviour we expect from them as they enter the
classroom. Now, lets discuss what kind of behaviour we expect from them in general.
When I first walked into a class of 36 10-year-olds armed with my knowledge of EFL and many
good intentions, I was not aware how completely unprepared I was for the experience. Looking back,
I am happy to say, I survived. I can also say that I learned a lot. I went into that classroom as their
English teacher, when I should have gone in as their teacher. I thought behaviour was someone elses
responsibility. It wasnt. So, I needed to establish what I expected from my students in our
classroom. So, how do you want your students to behave in your class? What do you expect them to
do? How will you let them know of your expectations?
Talk to them about it.
Having shown them what I expected in the first 10 minutes, it was time to talk to them about it. Keep
the conversation positive. Avoid the words rules and dont. Tell them that you consider them
responsible people, that they are part of a group, and that every group needs to know what is
expected of them in order to work better. With some laughter and wicked smiles, they all agreed.
When students understand why they are doing something, they can do it better. So, talk to them about
that routine in the first 10 minutes of class.
Exercise on the board
By having the exercise on the board, they have something to do when they come in. Tell them that
youve been a student too and you know that the more time they take to start, the less work they will
have. Wasting time means less work. You want to take away that waste of time.
Warm up to the language
By working individually on a simple exercise they start thinking in English and stop thinking in their
own language. It is like warming up slowly before playing a sport or a musical instrument. Remind
them that the exercise is easy, based on language they have done and seen before.
Revision of language learned
As the exercise and the language are both familiar, it is good revision of the language before starting
on new material. Tell your students that it is normal to forget. Everyone forgets. But, everyone
forgets different things. As a group they know the material, so as a group, they can help each other
Working as a group
As everyone is working on the exercise, students who know the answer say it to the rest of the class.
If they dont know an answer, or they are not sure, all they have to do is listen. Together, everyone
will have the right answers at the end of the activity.
Opportunity to practice speaking
Tell them you understand that speaking in English is not always easy for everyone. By beginning the
class with a simple exercise in which everyone has the answers, they have an opportunity to speak
using simple language. This will give them confidence for more complex speaking activities later on
in the lesson. It is like training during the week before a big football game on Sunday, or practicing a
musical instrument before playing at a concert.
Everyone can do it
Remind them that the activity at the beginning of the class is based on effort, not on knowledge.
Everyone can do it. What they dont know, they will get by listening to others in the class. They can
improve their pronunciation in the same way listening to others who give the answers. Reinforce
the idea that, if they want to, everyone can do this.
I am a responsible person.
When you have finished the discussion, take out a piece of blank , white paper and write in large
letters, I am a responsible person in the centre of the page. For older students, at a higher level of
English, I would write, I am a responsible person and deserve to be treated as one. Ask them to
sign it, if they agree with the sentence. Some students may not sign just to see if you will notice,
some to see what you will do, and others, (especially teenagers), because they enjoy having a
rebellious nature. At this point, simply collect the paper and put it up in the classroom.
By discussing what you do in class and why, you are already treating your students as responsible
people. You are showing them that what you do is to help them, because you believe they can do it.
You are establishing a positive learning environment because you believe all of them can and will
Next week I will be covering establishing expectations for the lessons in general.