Nowadays, Educational Institutions are facing a lot of pressures to be more responsive to students’ needs and are more concerned about how well students are prepared to assume future societal roles.
Departments are asked to lecture less and make the learning environment more interactive, thus more attractive. In doing so, the integration of cenventional methods and technology is of primary importance. Some of the more prominent strategies adopted in my classes are outlined below.
For decades, the lecture method has been the main instructional strategy used in colleges. Even though more modern teaching strategies are being examined, the lecture still remains the most basic form of effective communication in classes. Nevertheless, it is good practise to combine the traditional lecture with active learning teaching strategies.
The advantages of the lecture approach are that:
- large amount of information can be communicated to many listeners,
- maximizes instructor control,
- is non-threatening to students.
When the students are given the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-life experiences, the lecturer would be maximising the effectiveness of a lecture. This integration of knowledge, known as the Case Method is an instructional strategy that engages students in active discussion about issues and problems inherent in practical application.
The cases discussed can be simulated from a variety of sources. Usually, real-life situations provide the full opportunity to students to discuss and collectively solve a wide range of social numerical problems. The case study approach works well in cooperative learning or role playing environments to stimulate critical thinking and awareness of multiple perspectives.
Meyers and Jones (1993) define active learning as learning environments that allow “students to talk and listen, read, write, and reflect as they approach course content through problem-solving exercises, informal small groups, simulations, case studies, role playing, and other activities — all of which require students to apply what they are learning”.
Many studies show that learning is enhanced when students become actively involved in the learning process. Similar strategies stimulate critical thinking and encourage students to venture with other perspectives.
Cooperative Learning is a systematic pedagogical strategy that encourages small groups of students to work together for the achievement of a common goal. The term ‘Collaborative Learning’ is often used as a synonym for cooperative learning when, in fact, it is a separate strategy that encompasses a broader range of group interactions such as developing learning communities, stimulating student/faculty discussions, and encouraging electronic exchanges (Bruffee, 1993). The strategy stresses the importance of both the teacher and the students’ involvement in the learning process.
The inclusion of collaborative learning strategies into a course, asks for meticulous planning. The following tips are of utmost importance to the achievement of a successful cooperative learning experience:
- understanding how to form groups,
- ensure positive interdependence,
- maintain individual accountability,
- resolve group conflict,
- develop appropriate assignments and grading criteria,
- manage active learning environments.
Nowadays, computer literacy is an important part of a student’s education. The introduction of technological tools into a course curriculum is proving to be valuable for enhancing and extending the learning experience for students. A wide range of audio/visual electronic tools like digital media, online simulations, e-mail and blogs have been found useful in promoting meaningful learning and communication.
The following lesson plans and course material are samples to complement and demonstrate some of the above teaching strategies.