CAST- Tuesday Teaching Talk #3

Helping Students Seek Help

The semester is now in full swing. In his September 2012 Inside Higher Ed essay, “The Missing Element in Student Success”, Mike Rose  explores the importance of instructors helping students succeed. He points out a few obstacles:“Students can be reluctant to speak up or ask for assistance for a wide range of reasons: shyness, fear of revealing ignorance, distaste for claiming the spotlight, cultural norms, codes of masculinity, and more.” He further points out that “a related issue is a reluctance to seek help. This reluctance can be rooted in pride and notions of self-reliance. It can stem from shyness or embarrassment. But something else can be at play: an unfamiliarity or lack of comfort with help-seeking behavior within institutions. Many students with privileged educational backgrounds are socialized from day one to seek out resources and engage members of institutions to help them attain their goals. This seems so much like second nature to most academics that we forget that it is a culturally influenced, learned behavior.”

What steps do you take to encourage your students to seek help in your class, at HWC or wherever they are?


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3 thoughts on “CAST- Tuesday Teaching Talk #3

  1. This is a timely question. Teaching math, many of my students need help. I try to set the tone early in the semester that mistakes are learning experiences and that our class is a place where we can feel comfortable making mistakes and learning from each other. But that’s not enough. So I encourage them to see the tutors or seek me out during office hours. But that’s not enough either because there are still student who slip through the cracks. I think seeking help is much easier if a student’s peers are either the helper or the one asking for help around him/her. To that end, if students can answer each others’ questions during class, that seems to help as well, rather than me always answering everything from everyone, or not letting a student answer “sit” as given.

  2. “This reluctance can be rooted in pride and notions of self-reliance.”
    This sentence caught my attention because our culture teaches us to be self-reliant; to depend on no one else but ourselves. Independence, self-motivation, self-dependence, self-aware. Perhaps we’ve beat that drum too often and too loud and forgot to balance it with the sound of community and dependence.
    I agree with Mathissexy – students can help each other. I believe we need to foster more of this attitude in our classrooms so that students continue this practice throughout their lives.

    Sorry that I’m not answering the question directly, but I got stuck on that sentence.
    Better to have something to say than nothin’ at all.
    Thanks for the post (and reply), peeps.

    • That sentence struck me as well since I’m very guilty of it myself. I’m not sure if others feel this way (though I may never know unless someone speaks up), but when I tell students to seek help, I feel somewhat like a hypocrite since I have made it to this point in my existence priding myself in asking for as little help as possible. But, I do take that as a major weakness and it proved to be the case when I’ve found myself in leadership positions since it often leads to an inability to effectively delegate.

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