How big a role students' attitudes play in their ability to learn is important for the teacher to understand if the teacher is to change negative attitudes into positive ones. Along with subject matter basics and how to handle classroom behaviour problems, teachers need to know how students think and how their attitudes can affect not only their participation in one classroom, but also their entire academic career.
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Influences on Attitudes
A number of influences, from the subject matter to the teacher, make up a student's attitude. The social aspects of the class, how the room is arranged and the degree to which they and their family value education can all influence how students feel about a particular class. However, a 2006 study by Theresa M. Akey, a visiting scientist at Indiana University, also found that students' perceptions about their academic successes, their performance on prior work and their engagement with the subject matter also impact their attitudes in the classroom.
Attitudes and Learning
According to The Teaching Professor website, students' attitudes toward a course play a large part in determining how well they will do in that course. If students don't believe they will succeed, then it's likely that they won't, regardless of the quality of the teacher or the students' academic abilities. Similarly, if students don't value learning, they won't treat their schoolwork as a priority, and when they start to struggle because of this, they will quickly give up.
Attitudes and Behavior
According to Mary Donahue, DeAnza College faculty member, inappropriate behaviours in class can have a tremendous impact on students' attitudes toward the class. Indeed, according to a survey distributed by Mary Donahue, students find a range of inappropriate behaviours in the classroom distracting, from offensive body odour to continually asking questions. Students who feel frustrated by classroom discussions will likely have a negative attitude toward the class, while negative attitudes toward a class may also result in negative classroom behaviours.
Teachers can change students' attitudes toward their courses by discussing the relationship between attitudes and success. They can also improve attitudes by setting clear classroom rules, acting appropriately and consistently when rules are broken or upheld, and explaining the reasoning behind each classroom or homework activity. When teachers act with integrity, their students are more likely to have a positive association with the courses they teach. Additionally, teachers who try to make connections between students and their interests can help to improve students' attitudes by showing them how the material they are learning is interesting and practical.
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- MDRC, Theresa Akey, PhD: School Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement
- Honolulu Community College: What Influences Student Attitude Toward a Course?
- The Teaching Professor: Student Attitudes About Learning
- DeAnza College, Mary Donahue: Student Attitudes About Disruptive Behavior