10/12/15 Stress Relief ASF

Creative Haven's "Groovy Mandalas Coloring Book" serves as a form of relaxation and meditation.

Editor's note: This column cites the concept of learning styles, which has been debunked in the vast majority of scientific circles. Read more about that here

As we inch closer to the end of the semester, burnout becomes more and more a reality for many LSU students. Months without a break or a mental health day (because, let’s face it, the week of the ice storm was hardly a vacation for those of us with burst pipes, no power and a fear of driving on icy roads) have taken their toll on students' happiness, motivation, productivity and quality of work. 

Recently, while discussing our final pedagogy projects (projects which are designed to be used later as teaching material for other students) in class, one of my classmates mentioned that she intended to assign a supplemental coloring sheet or crossword puzzle to go with her presentation. My first thought was “Ooh, I’d love a coloring sheet right now!” 

And that’s when it hit me: why aren’t we giving out creative assignments to students right now? I don’t mean “paint the Mona Lisa” type assignments, I mean “color in this picture of this relevant-to-class cartoon” or “fill out this fill-in-the-blank worksheet while we watch a video in class.”

Instead of having a pop quiz or a reading-check quiz that — let’s face it — a lot of us would probably fail, why not give students a chance to relax, take a deep breath and maybe earn a few extra assignment grades? 

Obviously, professors can’t be expected to let students slack off or stop teaching new material, but throwing students a few bones in this last month would benefit all of us.

Well-rested students are more likely to produce quality work and absorb more of the information being taught by their professors.  

Not to mention that not everyone learns the same way to begin with, so some students would benefit more from creative assignments and class exercises even outside of the current pandemic burnout.

Most people have probably taken the “What Type of Learner Are You” test at some point in their lives, but basically, most students can be categorized into one of three types of learners: Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic. 

I am very much a kinesthetic learner. I struggle to learn just from listening to lectures or reading a passage from a textbook, but if I make a physical model, write things down and use other senses while learning (like chewing gum, walking, etc.), I have no problem remembering and learning the material. A coloring page or in-class worksheet would probably actually benefit my learning process even if I wasn't so burnt out this year.

Even though we’re all adults who at this point in our lives should be able to figure out how to study in a way that works for us, it wouldn’t hurt for professors to incorporate more creative learning experiences for students with different learning styles in mind. 

Lectures and PowerPoint presentations are standard practice and plenty of students have no trouble learning that way, but maybe expanding curricula to allow for students to turn in creative projects rather than just oral presentations or papers would encourage students to actively participate in the classroom and take some of the pressure off of professors who have to lecture every day. 

Marie Plunkett is a 22-year-old classical studies senior from New Orleans.

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