The Role of the Affective Domain and ‘Soft Skills’ in Collegiate Math
Although students are reaching college-level math classes sooner due to many of the recent acceleration projects, they often arrive without developing many of the student skills that would improve their chances for success. One way we can help our students to develop those skills is through the use of prompts and assignments that focus on the affective domain.
I like to use a series of prompts in my classes, because they are powerful and flexible. They can be used for writing assignments, discussion board prompts, or to start face-to-face classroom discussions. The in-person discussions can start with student volunteers sharing their responses, or they could use a think-pair-share format. They fit well in corequisite support classes, as well as the main credit bearing course. Finally, the instructor could devote as little as 5-10 minutes of class time to these prompts or use an entire class session.
I focus on topics that I feel are most beneficial to my students, helping them to be more successful in my class as well as becoming a better learner in general. I like to start with prompts related to developing a growth mindset, because I believe that helping students reset their mindset regarding mathematics is an important first step on the path to success.
I then follow up with prompts related to time management. Our students are over committed, yet lack skills for scheduling, organizing, or prioritizing tasks. Many students struggle with procrastination as well. These prompts lead to discussion and the discovery of strategies to improve time management.
After growth mindset and time management, I like to add prompts for goal setting using S.M.A.R.T. goals, reflection, and other study skills. You can tailor your choice of subjects to the skills you feel are most important, or to build up skills that your students need the most help with.
Lastly, I have assembled a set of 30 prompts that are included in the new third edition of Interactive Statistics, including notes for using them in class. Please reach out to me if you have any questions on using affective domain prompts in your classes, or if you are looking for feedback on strategies that you are using to help your students.
Try a prompt in your class with one of these samples.