HANDOUT 9. TYPES OF TEACHING METHODS
There are different types of teaching methods which can be categorised into three broad types. These are teacher-centred methods, learner-centred methods, content-focused methods and interactive/participative methods.
(a) INSTRUCTOR/TEACHER CENTRED METHODS
Here the teacher casts himself/herself in the role of being a master of the subject matter. The teacher is looked upon by the learners as an expert or an authority. Learners on the other hand are presumed to be passive and copious recipients of knowledge from the teacher. Examples of such methods are expository or lecture methods - which require little or no involvement of learners in the teaching process. It is also for this lack of involvement of the learners in what they are taught, that such methods are called “closed-ended”.
(b) LEARNER-CENTRED METHODS
In learner-centred methods, the teacher/instructor is both a teacher and a learner at the same time. In the words of Lawrence Stenhouse, the teacher plays a dual role as a learner as well “so that in his classroom extends rather than constricts his intellectual horizons”. The teacher also learns new things everyday which he/she didn’t know in the process of teaching. The teacher, “becomes a resource rather than an authority”. Examples of learner-centred methods are discussion method, discovery or inquiry based approach and the Hill’s model of learning through discussion (LTD).
(c) CONTENT-FOCUSED METHODS
In this category of methods, both the teacher and the learners have to fit into the content that is taught. Generally, this means the information and skills to be taught are regarded as sacrosanct or very important. A lot of emphasis is laid on the clarity and careful analyses of content. Both the teacher and the learners cannot alter or become critical of anything to do with the content. An example of a method which subordinates the interests of the teacher and learners to the content is the programmed learning approach.
(d) INTERACTIVE/PARTICIPATIVE METHODS
This fourth category borrows a bit from the three other methods without necessarily laying emphasis unduly on either the learner, content or teacher. These methods are driven by the situational analysis of what is the most appropriate thing for us to learn/do now given the situation of learners and the teacher. They require a participatory understanding of varied domains and factors.
SPECIFIC TEACHING METHODS
We can now consider a number of specific methods which can be drawn from in the course of classroom instruction. It is however, important to note that the choice of any form of methods should not be arbitrary, but needs to be governed by the criteria we have already examined. At the same time each method is not fool-proof, but has its own advantages and disadvantages. That is why I would recommend the use of complementary methods rather than one method.
1. LECTURE METHOD
A lecture is an oral presentation of information by the instructor. It is the method of relaying factual information which includes principles, concepts, ideas and all THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE about a given topic. In a lecture the instructor tells, explains, describes or relates whatever information the trainees are required to learn through listening and understanding. It is therefore teacher-centred. The instructor is very active, doing all the talking. Trainees on the other hand are very inactive, doing all the listening. Despite the popularity of lectures, the lack of active involvement of trainees limits its usefulness as a method of instruction.
The lecture method of instruction is recommended for trainees with very little knowledge or limited background knowledge on the topic. It is also useful for presenting an organised body of new information to the learner. To be effective in promoting learning, the lecture must involve some discussions and, question and answer period to allow trainees to be involved actively.
PREPARATION AND DELIVERY OF A LECTURE
As stated earlier, during the lecture, the trainees merely listen to the instructor. It is therefore very important to consider the attention span of trainees when preparing a lecture. The attention span is the period of time during which the trainees are able to pay full attention to what the instructor is talking about. It is estimated to be 15-25 minutes only. It is difficult to hold the trainees attention for a long period of time and careful preparation of lectures is very necessary.
The instructor should have a clear, logical plan of presentation. He/she should work out the essentials of the topic, organise them according to priorities and logical connections, and establish relationships between the various items. Careful organisation of content helps the trainees to structure and hence, to store or remember it. When developing a theme in a lecture, the instructor should use a variety of approaches. A useful principle in any instruction is to go from the KNOWN to UNKNOWN; from SIMPLE to COMPLEX, or from PARTS to a WHOLE.
Knowing the trainees and addressing their needs and interests is very important. For example, in explaining technical processes the instructor should search for illustrations that will be familiar to the trainees. Unfamiliar technical words should be introduced cautiously. New terminologies should be defined and explained and examples given.
In order to gain and focus the attention of trainees, the instructor should be adequately prepared, fluent in his/her presentation and should use various teaching aids and illustrations such as charts, transparencies, codes and even the real objects during presentation. Question and Answer periods should be included in the lecture.
QUALITIES OF A GOOD LECTURE
1. A good lecture should not be too long as to exceed the trainees attention span (up to 25 minutes).
2. A good lecture should address a single theme.
3. In a good lecture technical terms are carefully explained.
4. Familiar examples and analogies are given.
5. A good lecture establishes fluency in technical content.
6. A good lecture uses illustrations and examples.
7. A good lecture builds on existing knowledge.
8. A good lecture employs a variety of approaches.
2. THE DISCUSSION METHOD
Discussion involves two-way communication between participants. In the classroom situation an instructor and trainees all participate in discussion. During discussion, the instructor spends some time listening while the trainees spend sometimes talking. The discussion is, therefore, a more active learning experience for the trainees than the lecture.
A discussion is the means by which people share experiences, ideas and attitudes. As it helps to foster trainees involvement in what they are learning, it may contribute to desired attitudinal changes. Discussion may be used in the classroom for the purpose of lesson development, making trainees apply what they have learnt or to monitor trainees learning by way of feedback.
In areas in which trainees already have some knowledge or experience, discussion may be used to develop the main points to be covered in a lesson. For example, in safety training many of the procedures and behaviour that should be observed can be established through discussion with trainees. Trainees can draw on their experience of working in workshops contract sites to contribute to the discussion. In discussing some issues, differences of opinion arise. The discussion can help to clarify the different points of view and may assist each trainee to define his or her own opinion. Used in this way, discussion may be more effective in motivating trainees than lectures. Trainees can see that some importance is attached to their contributions.
Discussion may also be used, following a lecture or demonstration, to help trainees apply what they have learned. The instructor can ask questions, that help trainees to relate concepts and principles to contexts that are familiar to the trainees or in which they will ultimately be needed. For example following a lecture on “types of wood joint”, the instructor may, lead a discussion directing trainees attention to the places or pieces of furniture where each type is found, and the reasons for using one type than the other. Used in this way discussion contributes to the transfer of learning.
The discussion method also provides an opportunity to monitor trainees learning. The answers provided by trainees and the questions they ask, reveal the extent and quality of learning taking place. Instructors can use this information to repeat or modify an explanation to improve learning. They can also provide feedback to trainees, thereby helping to reinforce learning that has taken place. Discussion used in this way should follow after other methods of classroom instruction such as lectures, demonstration or practice sessions.
CONDUCTING A DISCUSSION
Discussion sessions can be led by the instructor, or can take place in groups. In either case, the goal is to meet the lesson objectives by allowing the trainees to:-
a) Relate relevant personal experiences or events which have occurred in the work setting.
Whether the discussion is instructor led or takes place in groups it must be guided by the instructor. It must be focused on the objectives of the lesson: it is the instructors responsibility to see that the objectives are met. If it is not properly guided, a discussion can degenerate into a consideration of inappropriate or unimportant topics adding confusion rather than clarification to the lesson.
3. THE DEMONSTRATION LESSON
“The most effective way to teach an occupational skill is to demonstrate it... one of the two most essential teaching skills is the ability to demonstrate; the other is the ability to explain. Both are vital to the success of either an operation lesson or an information lesson”. Weaver and Cencil in APPLIED TEACHING TECHNIQUES.
Demonstration means any planned performance of an occupation skill, scientific principle or experiment.
1. Rehearse your presentation in advance of the lesson.
2. Anticipate any difficult steps, possible interruptions e.t.c.
3. Obtain all materials, tools, equipment, visual and teaching aids in advance and check their useful condition.
4. Have all materials within reach and conveniently arranged.
5. Time the demonstration NOT to exceed 15 minutes.
6. Remove all extraneous materials; check lighting, visibility, student grouping, and proximity to electric, gas and water outlets.
7. Plan to use a skill or method to advantage; work from simple to complex, one step at a time.
1. Make sure all students can see and hear the lesson.
2. Be enthusiastic, professional, effective but not dramatic.
3. Relax; use any mishaps or humour to YOUR advantage.
4. Observe all safety rules and procedures.
5. Keep eye-contact with the class; ask and encourage class questions.
6. Explain WHY and HOW: use the techniques of SHOW and TELL.
7. Use a medial summary to strengthen your explanation.
1. Avoid interruptions; keep demonstration smooth and continuous.
2. Never demonstrate on a student’s material.
3. Work towards one aim.
4. Allow time for possible student participation.
CARRYING OUT A DEMONSTRATION
1. Give a good performance. Remember that the trainees learn by your good example.
2. Explain each step or process as you proceed. Follow your lesson plan.
3. Make sure the trainees see the demonstration from the angle they will perform it themselves.
4. Be sure everyone can see and hear. Maintain eye contact.
5. Emphasise key points, and if possible prepare before hand ask key questions as you go along and allow trainees to ask questions.
6. Observe all safety rules, precautions and procedures; and emphasise them.
7. Use proper instructions, aids such as chalkboard, charts, handouts e.t.c. to support your demonstration.
8. Provide for trainees participation where possible, during and after demonstration.
9. Demonstrate the correct way only. First impressions are important, therefore, make them correct ones.
10. Always summarise the steps and emphasise key points again.
1. Return all items used during demonstration to their storage places.
2. Make arrangements to have the trainees practice the skill as soon as possible in a practical class session.
3. Observe and analyse trainee(s) performance and correct mistakes.
4. Offer reinforcement where necessary.
5. Coach weak or slow trainees.
6. Check trainee’s completed work for accurate performance and record.
7. Allow sufficient time interval before demonstrating another operation.
4. BUZZ GROUPS
Another method of instruction is the buzz group. During a longer session, the plenary group can break into sub-groups to discuss one or two specific questions or issues. The room soon fills with noise as each sub-group ‘buzzes’ in discussion. If appropriate, after the discussion one member of each group can report its findings back to the plenary. Buzz groups can be in pairs, trios, or more depending on the activity. People turn to their neighbours for a quick buzz, or form larger groups of three or more. This allows almost every one to express an opinion. While they are buzzing, participants are able to exchange ideas and draw on their wide collective experience. It may provide a good opportunity for trainees to reflect on the content of a lecture. A good buzz session will generate many ideas, comments and opinion, the most important of which will be reported back.
The main obstacle using buzz sessions lie in unfamiliarity with their use, the time required, the need for leaders or facilitators within each sub-group, and the need to have tables and chairs arranged for quick and easy discussion.
The purpose of a brainstorming session is to discover new ideas and responses very quickly. It is particularly a good way of getting bright ideas. It differs from the buzz groups discussion in that the focus is on generating as many ideas as possible without judging them. In this technique, all ideas are given equal credence.
Participants are encouraged to let ideas flow freely, building on and improving from previous ideas. No idea, however crazy, should be rejected. These ideas are listed exactly as they are expressed on a board or flipchart, or written on bits of paper. The combination of swiftly generated ideas usually leads to a very animated and energising session. Even the more reserved participants should feel bold enough to contribute. The purpose of listing responses is to collect existing experiences and thoughts.
It is useful to collect answers to questions when you expect much repetition in the responses.
After a brainstorm session, the ideas can be discussed further and evaluated, for example listing the best options in a systematic way. Ideas can be grouped and analysed so that they belong to the group rather then individuals. Unlike a buzz session, a brainstorm session can work well with a large group and usually takes less time. It is best to limit the time for plenary brainstorms, as you might lose the attention of some participants.
6. ROLE PLAYS
In role plays, participants use their own experiences to play a real life situation. When done well, role plays increase the participants self-confidence, give them the opportunity to understand or even feel empathy for other people’s viewpoints or roles, and usually end with practical answers, solutions or guidelines.
Role plays are useful for exploring and improving interviewing techniques and examining the complexities and potential conflicts of group meetings. They help participants to consolidate different lessons in one setting and are good energisers.
However, role plays can be time-consuming and their success depends on the willingness of participants to take active part. Some trainees may feel a role play is too exposing, threatening or embarrassing. This reluctance may be overcome at the outset by careful explanation of the objectives and the outcome. Some role plays can generate strong emotions amongst the participants. It is therefore essential that a role play is followed by a thorough debriefing. This provides the opportunity for the trainer and the participants to raise and assess new issues.
INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS AND THEIR APPLICATIONS
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