How to Overcome Student Apathy in the Classroom

Student apathy is common in classrooms but instructors can take a critical step to overcome it, writes Major Wolfgang S. Weber, assistant professor of Law at the US Air Force Academy, in a recent Faculty Focus story. In the article, Weber talks about incorporating a “motivation step” into the beginning of class sessions to show students why the material matters. The two- to three-minute discussion is an opportunity for the instructor to explain why the subject is meaningful and for students to become more engaged.

Weber gives an example of using a motivation step on the first day teaching the First Amendment. He asks students to picture living in a country where it’s illegal to speak out against the government, asks them what they would do in that situation, and then frames the material based on these conversations and ties it to the real world.

“Within the first few minutes, I have initiated a dialogue that they want to be a part of because I have made it abundantly clear why it matters to them. This creates greater interest, greater conversation, and most importantly—greater learning,” Weber writes in the story.