Research Paper: Teaching Strategies

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Teaching Methods

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning (CL) is a teaching methodology that shifts the focus of teaching from lecturing to groups of mostly passive students to instruction through orchestrating students' interactions with each other. In CL, instruction focuses on coordinating, stimulating, and encouraging interactions among students, with students expected to learn from their own activities and interaction with their peers. According to Shimazoe and Aldrich (2010) research indicates that when students are given opportunities to work collaboratively they learn faster and more efficiently, have greater retention, and feel more positive about the learning experience. CL is a way for students to take turns with different roles in a cooperative group. The success of the group depends on the successful work of every individual. There are very specific methods to assure the success of group work, and it is essential that both teachers and students are aware of them.

Shimazoe and Aldrich (2010) ouline six benefits students gain from CL and six common student complaints. The benefits are: 1) promotes deep learning, 2) helps earn higher grades, 3) teaches social skills and civic values, 4) teaches higher order thinking skills, 5) promotes personal growth, and 6) develops positive attitudes toward autonomous learning. The complaints include: 1) I've always had bad experiences with group work. Why don't you just lecture?, 2) I don't want to rely on strangers. Why can't I form a group with my friends?, 3) We waste a lot of time in our meetings. No one wants to take responsibility, 4) I don't know what we are supposed to do or why we are doing it, 5) This group work just feels like busy work to me. What's the point?, and 6) I worked a lot harder than other people in my group but I got the same grade. That's not fair.

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated instruction is an approach to planning so that one lesson is taught to the entire class while meeting the individual needs of each child. The teacher weaves these individual goals into the classroom content and instructional strategies. The content, in conjunction with the instructional strategies are the vehicles by which the teacher meets the needs of all the students. Each lesson has a definite aim for all students and includes a variety of teacher techniques aimed at reaching students at all levels. The presentation of the lesson takes into account student learning styles and involves all students in the lesson through the use of questioning techniques aimed at different levels of thinking. The instructor makes allowances for student's differences, adjusts expectations, and provides choice in the method students will use to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts. The instructor also acknowledges that different methods are of equal value, and evaluates students based on their individual differences.

Hueber (2010) suggests these guiding principles to support differentiated classroom practices: 1) focus on the essential ideas and skills of the content area, eliminating ancillary tasks and activities. 2) respond to individual student differences, such as learning style, prior knowledge, interests, and level of engagement. 3) group students flexibly, by shared interest, topic, or ability 4) integrate ongoing and meaningful assessments with instruction, and 5) continually assess, reflect, and adjust content, process, and product to meet student needs.

Some obstacles to the implementation of differentiated instruction methodologies include the reality that students have different strengths, work at different paces, and need different types of assistance. The challenge for teachers is how to effectively respond to the differing needs of 25-30 students simultaneously.

Expository Teaching

Expository teaching is a lecture, presentation or telling strategy used during instruction. The teacher is in control of presenting the subject matter and directs the students through the lesson. A rule is presented with an example and then practice is provided. The teacher focuses the students' attention on the key points of the subject and may use graphics, diagrams, or other representations to elaborate on the subject.

Gulpinar and Yegen (2005) maintain lectures are still the most widely used and accepted method of instruction. The advantages of lecturing are that it is an economical and efficient method of teaching. Lectures are useful in conveying information to large audiences with little risk for the students, while allowing the instructor to have maximum control of the learning experience. Conversely, this method of instruction fails to provide the instructor with feedback about the extent of student comprehension. Another drawback to lecturing is that students are frequently seen as passive recipients of information, without any engagement in the learning process, and therefore their attention may wane after 15 -- 25 minutes. It is well established that learning is a dynamic process and students who are actively involved in the learning activity will learn more than students who are passive recipients of information. It is imperative therefore that lectures be well-organized so they stimulate thought and arouse students' curiosity. In this manner a two-ways interaction may be accomplished between the presenter and the participants and increase the effectiveness of the presentation.

Inquiry/Problem-Solving

Inquiry-based learning describes a teaching technique where learning is realized through research and investigation activities in response to set problems and tasks. Inquiry-based learning has a number of forms and is extensively used today in such disciplines as medicine and science. In such settings problem-based learning sees students undertaking complex problems involving the application of knowledge to support their learning. It is a methodology that uses strong contextual elements in the learning process. In inquiry-based learning, students are actively engaged in the learning process as they seek to develop solutions to problems and tasks. The problem-solving process gives the students ownership of the learning process and encourages the development of skills and knowledge that are transferable beyond the classroom setting (Oliver, 2007).

Tasks and problems are essential elements for effective learning in any educational setting. Oliver (2007) asserts students become meaningfully engaged when they undertake inquiry based activities and tasks as they seek solutions. They use the content and information as the basis for developing their understanding and knowledge required to successfully solve the problem. The quality of the solution provided by a student provides evidence of the learning that has been achieved. Problem and inquiry-based approaches to teaching are typical of those that can promote deep learning among students, in place of the surface learning typical of most lecture-based approaches. Conversely, this methodology may not be appropriate for instructing large groups of dependent learners, especially if they have yet to develop the metacognitive skills required for independent learning. Such skills as self-regulated learning, goal setting, help seeking, self-evaluation, and the ability to develop problem solving strategies are prerequisites to success.

Moral Dilemma

Moral dilemma is an approach to instruction that is designed to create explorations of the meanings of stories through the use of higher order thinking skills. It is a process of working to improve reading comprehension by highlighting moral issues. The intent is to facilitate and enhance students' abilities to develop, express and debate complex ideas about texts. The resulting dialogue should enable the student to break out of the dominant recitative mode and bring about positive conflict and reflective student participation. Through what Clair and Gallimore (1996) call Instructional Conversations (ICs) students are encouraged to participate though guided interaction to foster the development of reading comprehension and moral awareness.

ICs are based on the idea that teachers can encourage development in students' thinking by engaging them in challenging, supportive and developmentally sensitive discussions. This model of instruction require teachers to identify a developmentally appropriate thematic focus, facilitate maximum student participation by asking open-ended questions, building on the contributions of students and encouraging students to listen and respond to each other, assist students in clarifying their thinking by encouraging them to give reasons and examples, and advocate for reasoning that is just above the level where the students are able to reason themselves (Clair & Gallimore, 1996).

Problems with this methodology can arise if the instructor is not sensitive to area standards and expectations. Care should be taken to choose issues that will not arouse emotional responses from parents and other stakeholders and create an upheaval in the community.

On-going Assessment

More than evaluation, on-going assessment is a substantive contribution to learning. Assessment must foster understanding, rather than simply evaluating is more than an end-of-the-unit test. It needs to inform students and teachers about both what students currently understand and how to proceed with subsequent teaching and learning.

The two principle components of the ongoing assessment process are establishing criteria and providing feedback. The criteria for demonstrating understanding should be articulated explicitly at the beginning of each lesson, relevant to the goals for the unit, and public that is everyone in the classroom should know and understand them. Feedback needs to occur frequently, from the beginning of the unit to its conclusion and in conjunction with demonstrations of understanding. Feedback may be formal or informal. The intent is to provide students with information about how well they understand the content of the lesson, and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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