Professors Responding to Student Classroom Fears

Posted: 27/04/2015 by broadyesl in professors

Read some practical ideas in “Strategies for Addressing Student Fear in the Classroom”  at:


Here are six strategies for helping students overcome their fears:

  1. Educate yourself about fear and its impact on students. Take time to learn about important biological effects of fear that include blushing and racing heart, and cognitive factors, such as negative messages that students tell themselves. By learning more about how fear works, we can become more aware of important telltale signs and more proactive toward helping students feel more comfortable and confident.
  2. Recognize that some student fears may be associated with factors outside the classroom. Many students take on multiple jobs, experience family challenges, and face other stress factors that keep them from performing well in the classroom. Engaging in dialogue with students about their challenges and discussing ways to manage them may help students feel more involved in your course and be more persistent to succeed.
  3. Help students become aware of their feelings of anxiety when they occur. Students are often unaware of their fear-based responses and thus may feel helpless to control them. Plan to demonstrate simple anxiety management strategies, such as breathing techniques, stretching, or relaxation methods that can help students ease their feelings of discomfort. Research shows that these techniques are effective in promoting calmness during high-stress activities, such as quizzes and group discussions.
  4. Create a nurturing environment for your students. Use learner-centered activities (e.g., small groups) and provide multiple means of student engagement. Clearly articulate instructions for assignments and assess their understanding so that you are confident students are well-informed and less fretful about the objectives of each lesson. Additionally, make it a goal to promote cultural fairness so that each student can feel safe and valued in your class.
  5. Be proactive in communicating with students outside the classroom. Although busy schedules may inhibit our ability to form deep relationships with students, a quick email to your more fearful learners can be reassuring and helps promote better communication. Even sending a note to the entire class (“I just wanted to send a quick ‘hello’ to touch base with all of you …”) can go far in easing apprehension among some individuals.
  6. Be aware of campus resources to help students. A number of universities provide formal early alert systems, counseling services, and other interventions such as workshops for reducing stress and anxiety. Obtain or create a list of key resources and specific contacts that you can share with those who are exhibiting behaviors that may be driven by fear.

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