Outside of class, students should spend 2 hours preparing for every 1 credit hour (i.e. 6 hours per week outside of class for a 3 credit hour class). However, most students only spend 1 hour preparing per credit hour (i.e. 3 hours per week for a 3 credit hour class). During this hour, students often use ineffective techniques to engage with the material such as rereading and cramming.
During class, students are at risk of experiencing high levels of mind wandering, especially during easy, well-practiced, repetitive, or routine tasks. In order to minimize this and help students utilize their out of class time more effectively, it is important to actively engage students with the material.
Time on task represents the amount of time students are actively engaged with the material and should focus on cognitive engagement with material rather than on simply completing the task. Using a learner-centered and backward design approach to designing your courses can help you utilize both in and out of class time more effectively. Implementing a variety of active learning strategies can increase students’ time on task during a class session.
Time on task is the 4th of 7 principles for effective undergraduate teaching that we have reviewed in our 7-part series based on work from Chickering & Gamson. Be sure to subscribe to the blog as to not miss out on the last 3 posts of this series as well as other great CITL posts. If you are interested in helping your students utilize their time more effectively, consider the following upcoming CITL events: Brownbag: Maximizing the Evening Class, and the Flipped Classroom Institute. CITL Consultants are also always available to discuss time on task or any other teaching and learning related topic, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7 Principles of Good Teaching Blog Series – by Shannon Sipes