Getting students to study is a universal problem. There does not seem to be an easy solution. I use several methods and sometimes none of them work. Some students just need to see that study time correlates with grades: more study time means higher grades. This does not work for students who are not serious about their grades.
I give short quizzes at the beginning of class to see what they studied.
I have students connect things in their daily life to the class that I am teaching. That way the students see more of the importance of the information that you are teaching and will study if more. I have students do projects that use things from their daily life. In my Human Anatomy class for nursing students, they have to research a disease that they might see in their profession and they have to describe it and how it is treated. In your case, I think connecting the class information to their traditions would be a way to get them intellectually involved. This is sometimes difficult to do. I am developing a small project using foodwebs that you might want to try. It will get them thinking about how the science class can explain how things in their environment are connected. This might cause them to value the science class more and cause them to study more.
I have used contests and competitions to appeal to their competitive side. If they are divided into teams and compete then they have to have studied the information before the class. This can use the quiz questions and be done in the first 5 minutes of class.
Please let me know these methods help, OK?
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