Responding to Resistance

Brookfield’s (2006, pg. 211-233) discussion suggests that before responding to student resistance to learning we first understand the resistance. One issue that I have recently discovered is a lack of clarity in my assignment instructions. I don’t tend to realize this until I start marking an assignment I have assigned and realize that my students have misunderstood the instructions. I ask students if they have questions about the assignments and I encourage them to e-mail me if they need clarification but I typically don’t receive any communication. I also notice that a significant portion of students are not handing in assignments.

Students may be resistant to asking for clarifications in-class because of fear of looking incompetent in front of their classmates. They may resist e-mailing me because I can personally identify them. Brookfield (2006, pg. 230) suggests that instructors distribute as much information as they can about the criteria, indicators, and grading policies for assignments. I should also not assume that silence means they understand the assignment. A survey following the first assignment in the class may serve as good information to use to improve future assignments in the remainder of the course. On searching for literature regarding assignment writing a came across the book A Strategic Guide To Technical Writing by Heather and Roger Graves. I’ll have to obtain a copy as it looks like it could benefit me and my students.


Brookfield, S. D. (2006). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom (Second ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


About simoncrothers

I am an Australian who moved to British Columbia, Canada with my family in 1998. After completing my undergraduate degree in mathematics and computing science at Simon Fraser University, I moved back to Australia for several years. During this time I completed a Masters in Computational Mathematics and began my teaching career in mathematics at the University of New South Wales. In 2010, I moved back to Canada and taught computer science at Douglas College for three years. I am currently regular faculty in the Computer Business Systems department at KPU. I have also taught some courses in the Business and Quantitative Methods department at KPU. In my spare time I like to spend time with my wife Jami, who I met in Australia, our three year old daughter Lillian, and our newly born son Aiden. I also like to indulge in the occasional video game and I am involved in various self-employed web development projects.
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