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Instructional Strategies Tips
Functional education remains the real instrument and strength of positive change for sustainable human development. Education and training are often recognized as the prerequisites for quality manpower development and wealth creation.
As the realization of this facts dawn more and more on the people of the world, desire for sound education and up-to-date knowledge acquisition increase, necessitating the need for many more people as teachers and instructors who have never participated in a teachers training course.
This article will help you to improve your instructional skill, whether as an on-the-job trainer, classroom teacher or out-of-class instructor.
Last Updated -12th December 2005
Instructing others is not the sole responsibility of professional teachers. Many, all over the world, who have never studied pedagogy, have the responsibility of teaching others placed on them. If you are one of them, you must gain the knowledge of strategies used in instructing others, to make a success of your teaching assignments.
When we talk of instructional strategies, what we mean, simply, is a plan of organized thoughtful actions that involve sound employment of effective teaching methods and meaningful coordination of available resources to achieve the desired objectives of teaching.
Choice of teaching methods
An instructor must understand the criteria or factors which constitute the principles underlying the choice of teaching methods.
A teaching method may be good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate, attractive or unattractive, depending on whether the principles are taken into consideration at the planning and presentation stage.
- The nature of the learners. The maturity or developmental level of the learners, the language and communication skills of the learners and the assimilating ability of the learners must be taken into consideration. The teaching methods used by the teacher must be appropriate to the students background and the topics being treated.
- The nature of the subject. Mathematics, for example, will require a different teaching method from fine art.
- The nature of the topic under consideration. Can the topic be effortlessly grasped or is it the hard part of a subject that cannot be easily understood like the other parts?
- The ability of the teacher. If the instructor is not able to explain that topic to the learners satisfaction, he can resort to Inquiry/ Discovery method, for example.
- The size of the class. The numbers of students in a class can determine to a large extent the teaching method to be used. For example, the Dalton plan of individual work is hardly practicable in a large class.
- The time and duration of the lesson. If the time in which a lesson must be covered is short, then a method must be chosen that will quickly present the lesson to the students, like Lecture Method.
Classification Of Instructional Strategies
- Teacher-Centered Methods:
- The teacher does most of the work. Learners participation in the lesson is few. Lecture, Didactic and story-telling methods are good examples.
- Student-Centered Methods:
- The learner does most of the work. Teachers participation is minimum. Example:Inquiry/Discovery method, Discussion method, Assignment /Problem-solving method, Role-Play method.
- Didactic (Teaching) Method
- In all the instructional methods discussed in this article, the instructor is involved in teaching. But there is a certain way of teaching, which, for want of a better name, we call Didactic. The teacher explains a topic to the class, answers learners questions on the lesson and asks the students questions to test their understanding of the lessons. In addition, he writes the lesson, or a summary of it, on the board for the students/pupils to copy in their notebooks.
- This method leans heavily on learning of facts by the learner and is used mainly in the primary and secondary schools.
- Lecture Method
- The Lecture Method consists of passing verbal information to the students/pupils who listen and write down as much of the lecture as they can. At the end of the lecture, the students ask questions, which the instructor answers. The teacher does most of the talking. He is fully in charge, the master of knowledge!
- Lecture method is more applicable for students in higher institutions of learning.
- The major advantage of the method is that a lot of information can be passed on in a relatively short time and it is particularly suited for teaching large classes.
- The major limitations of this method are: It is teacher-centered. It does not encourage students active participation in learning activities. Learners with short attention span may not derive much benefit from the lecture. It causes boredom in a class because students are not actively involved.
- Discussion Method
- This method involves exchange of ideas between the teacher and the learner. The Instructor and the learners talk about the lesson from several points of view. In a Literature class, the teacher may invite discussion from the students on a new literary book that a well-known author has just written. The teacher does not seem to have a particular answer he wishes to present to the students. He only wants to give them the opportunity to express their views and by so doing their literary appreciation skill.
- Discussion is important to learning in all disciplines because it helps students process information rather than simply receive it. The students can be more active in this method than in lecture method. Discussion is an instructional activity that has uses in classes of all sizes and disciplines.
- The advantage of this method is that it creates a forum to solve difficult problems. Another advantage is that both the teacher and the students are both involved in the lesson, unlike in the lecture method. It also contributes to character development, encourage logical thinking, promote habits of disciplined discussion and facilitate creative thinking.
- The disadvantage is, discussion session can result in bitter arguments if not properly monitored or if quick-tempered students are allowed to get out of control. For example, a discussion session ends in violence when a bad-mannered white student uses offensive term to refer to colored people while speaking. The black people in the class and their white sympathizers first of all released a volley of angry epithets against the offender. When a few white students took his sides, blows began to fly.
- Questioning Method
- The teacher asks questions and calls the students one-by-one to provide answers to the questions. This allows the teacher to assess the previous knowledge, level of understanding, misconceptions and learning difficulties of the students/pupils.
- This method allows individual participation of students in the lesson. It also enables the teacher to provide on-the-spot correction.
- The limitation is that the questions have to be well-phrased, otherwise the students may suffer confusion as to what exact answer they are to give. This may lead to bad teacher-student relations. The method sometimes creates anxiety on students who cannot answer questions well.
- Problem Method
- The teacher presents some problems to the class and asks the students to write down the answer. The teacher marks the answers and then provides the answers, or model answers, to the problems. The teacher may call some of the students, singly, to provide the solution on the board. Nearly every subject can be treated at some stage or another in this way. But the method is most suitable for mathematics.
- The main advantage of this problem is that it allows the teacher to evaluate the knowledge gained by the students in the previous lessons on a particular subject. The method also gives room for student participation in the class activities. Also, the method gives the student the opportunity not to forget what he has learned.
- The disadvantage is that a student, in desperation to prove his knowledge, can resort to cheating.
- Assignment Method
- Assignment is the piece of work given to the students to do outside the classroom, especially from home. The purpose is to consolidate what the student/pupil has learnt in the class and prepare their minds for the next lessons.
- This method helps to broaden the intellectual horizons of the students when they seek for more knowledge from publications, the Internet and experts on the subject of the assignments. It encourages diligence.
- The limitation of the method is that it can encourage plagiarism and cheating.
- Laboratory Method
- In this method, the students is directed or motivated by the Instructor to investigate, collect, analyze and interpret data. A problem is usually given by the teacher for students to solve by researching. The method is usually used to translate theory into practice.
- The merit of this method is that it develops the students skill of observation, classification, analyzing, recording and interpretation of data.
- The major demerit of the method is that is consumes much more time than the other instructional strategies.
- Inquiry/discovery Method
- This is a problem-solving method and is almost similar to laboratory method. The method requires the ability to engage in creative thinking and seek data in solving human problems
- Project Method
- The project is an organized activity which individual students or groups of students carry out under the guidance of an instructor within a specific period. The method requires ability to plan, research and gather necessary materials.
- The merit of the method is that it helps to advance the students research and creative ability. It equips him with the competence, experience and confidence to seek for information and engage in practical investigations create things and solve problems.
- The demerit is that it is time-consuming. It often requires more money spent on it than other instructional methods.
- Group Method
- In this method, the instructor organizes the students into groups to study a problem or discuss a given topic.
- The size of a group depends on the judgement of the instructor. Two to six students in a group is ideal. Smaller groups - two or three - are better for simple tasks and reaching consensus. Larger groups of four or five are better for more complex tasks and generating lots of ideas.
- Role Play Method
- Role play means pretending to be someone else, especially as part of learning a new skill. Role play can be effectively used in training courses and language-learning.
- The Role Playing Process: The teacher should -
- present a subject he wants dealt with.
- choose the participants
- Set the stage by arranging furniture, indicating where 'doors' might be located.
- Prepare the audience (the other students) by giving them specific questions which they must be prepared to answer at the conclusion of the role play. Examples: (a) Would this work in real life? (b) How would you have handled the situation?
- Ask questions of the participants and audience.
- Reenact the role play, if necessary, using a variation of the situation, new participants, feedback provided to improve a skill. . .
- Case Method
- Cases are situations, narratives, select data samplings, or statements that present unresolved and provocative issues, situations, or questions. As a teaching/learning method, cases challenge participants to analyze, critique, make judgments, speculate and express reasoned opinions.
- Formats for Cases
- Finished cases based on facts. This is for analysis only, since the solution is indicated or alternate solutions are suggested.
- Unfinished open-ended cases, where the results are not yet clear (either because the case has not come to a factual conclusion in real life, or because the teacher has eliminated the final facts.) Students must predict, make choices and offer suggestions that will affect the outcome.
- Fictional cases. This is entirely written by the instructor. It can be open-ended or finished. But the case must be both complex enough to make it look real.
- Original documents. News articles, reports with data and statistics, summaries, literary passagesetc.
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