How do you handle an adolescent who refuses to speak, even about his project, or a student who is very attentive in class but fails to perform in examinations? If stress levels among engineering students are a cause of concern, it is the same among their teachers who are often unaware of methods to help such students.
Two months before a new batch of students enters engineering colleges, lecturers and professors of Anna University are being counselled on how to handle students and help them handle stress better.
In a series of workshops organised by the Centre for Empowerment of Women, Anna University, the lecturers are trained in specific ways to help students understand personal and academic stress.
“Students come here from varied backgrounds and the biggest challenge is to get them to open up and speak boldly. Many talk in mono syllables,” said Hema Achyuthan, director, Centre for Empowerment of Women, and a professor in the geology department.
The workshop on Friday was handled by counsellor Prabha Arun who said that students tend to approach only those teachers who make them feel relaxed. Lecturers assume that college students are more responsible but the transition from school often takes time, she said.
Observing student behaviour helps a lot, said teachers. Y. Vidhya Lakshmi, a physics lecturer said, “We might observe a student behaving differently but only when we talk to hostel wardens do we get a better picture of his recent activities. Also, the fact that teachers keep changing every semester does not allow students to foster longer relationships with them,” she said.
Teachers say that the 45 minutes allotted every week for counselling students is hardly sufficient to understand their problems. Also, teachers are expected to shoulder more responsibilities, such as handling additional programmes and submitting research papers. This leaves them with very little time to interact with students, a lecturer said.