Thoughts on Three No’s Every Student Wants to Hear

Three No's

By Lindsay Gigous
Education Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Wilmington Campus

Here’s a scary thought: ever try to get into your students’ minds? What do they really think about your assignments? Are they completely bored in your classes or do they like what you’re doing?

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) recently released a new issue of their Education Update magazine, and one highlight from the issue by Rose Reissman helps educators think about looking at a class from a student’s perspective in order to increase student engagement and critical thinking.

Reissman explains three no’s that every student wants to hear–and no, they aren’t “no tests, no grades, no effort”. These three guidelines are designed to have students thinking outside of the box in a way that they will enjoy and in a way that still allows you to assess the learning objectives that you need to.

Here are Reismann’s no’s with some of my own commentary.

There is NO single correct answer to this question.

Students respect instructors more when the instructor shows that the students’ thoughts are valid and reasonable. Allow your students to explain themselves and their answers. Many times, being told that an answer is wrong is enough to shut a student down for the rest of the semester.

There is NO template or desired format for this project.

Ahh, creativity. Isn’t that what we complain about with K-12 education the most right now: students are no longer being encouraged to be creative? Give them the opportunity to showcase their skills, whether it is in a new medium of technology or simply presenting something in a different way. This will also allow for students to do more than simply repeating what they have learned in class in their presentation. It will allow them to take what they have learned and apply it in a different way.

There is NO spoken answer required.

We all know that some students are natural born talkers, while others need time to collect their thoughts before speaking. Consider using discussion boards in your classes. Allow your students to know that you will still “hear” them in written assignments or in online formats. Although presentation skills or classroom discussion participation might be things you desire or that your students need in their future careers, remember that they are still in school and still learning what is appropriate and how to say certain things. This is their opportunity to learn before they get into the field. Don’t be offended if you end up talking to yourself sometimes in class.


With 21st century critical thinking skills becoming an essential part of every class that you teach, start saying NO to your students where it makes the most difference to them.

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