Instructional methods are ways that information is presented to students. Such methods fall into two categories: teacher-centered approaches and student- centered approaches. There is not one "best" approach to instruction. Some goals are better suited to teacher-centered approaches while others clearly need student-centered approaches (Shuell, 1996). Teacher-centered instruction has been criticized as ineffective and grounded in behaviorism; (Marshall 1992, Stoddard, Connell, Stgofflett, and Peck 1993) however, this is not the case if delivered effectively (Eggen & Kauchak, 2001). Let's take a closer look at these approaches.
Let Us Understand the Terminology
Models represent the broadest level of instructional practices and present a philosophical orientation to instruction. Models are used to select and to structure teaching strategies, methods, skills, and student activities for a particular instructional emphasis. Joyce and Weil (1986) identify four models: information processing, behaviourial, social interaction, and personal.
Within each model several strategies can be used. Strategies determine the approach a teacher may take to achieve learning objectives. Strategies can be classed as direct, indirect, interactive, experiential, or independent.
Methods are used by teachers to create learning environments and to specify the nature of the activity in which the teacher and learner will be involved during the lesson. While particular methods are often associated with certain strategies, some methods may be found within a variety of strategies.
Skills are the most specific instructional behaviours. These include such techniques as questioning, discussing, direction-giving, explaining, and demonstrating. They also include such actions as planning, structuring, focusing, and managing.
The importance of selecting appropriate instructional methods
In the previous module you have explored various approaches and methods a PU Lecturer may use for ensuring learning. Even though we have a large number of approaches and methods to select from, you would agree that they are not alternatives. The situation is very similar to that when you enter a cafeteria where you have a large number of food items to select from. What are the criteria that determine the selection of an approach or method of teaching?
After going through this module and completing the activities suggested, you would be able to;
- Know the criteria that determine selection of a method of teaching
- Analyse the methods according to the criteria for selection
- Appreciate the need for using multiple methods of teaching
LET US UNDERSTAND THE CRITERIA OF SELECTION
The pre-university class, unlike a class in the school, is a large class consisting of more number of students than 30-40 which is the strength in the high school. One of the most significant problems facing PU colleges is the persistence with teaching, administrative and organisational approaches that have been successful in small classes, but that are incompatible for use with large groups. Various authors, such as Biggs (1999) and McKeachie (1999) have highlighted a number of teaching techniques that can be utilised across a broad span of disciplines.
Even though the class strength is a factor that influences our decision regarding choice of method, a lecturer will also need to use the approaches suitable for individualized and small group instruction since there will be a need for students to work alone for direct, first-hand and field experience.
Apart from the size of the group, there are other criteria that influence our decision regarding method selection. They are:
- Learner Background as a Factor
- The infrastructure and other resources available
- The learning outcome expected at the end of teaching
- The competence and skills of a Lecturer (as well as their incompetence)
- The subject matter content that we teach
|Your student group consists of first year students who are facing an educational culture significantly departed from that experienced at high school. These students have graduate from an environment of rigid structure and close monitoring, to one of significantly greater freedom over time-tables, deadlines, work schedules and even whether or not they attend classes. In a way they are experiencing a different world.
Although many students adapt to these new circumstances, it is advisable that lecturers employ various teaching strategies designed to facilitate the adjustment for students struggling to come to terms with the university experience (McKeachie, 1999). Literature states that the First year students particularly benefit from being given feedback on their progress at an early stage in the course, whether in the form of assignments, exams or laboratory/tutorial assessments.
You have known in the previous module that learner involvement varies in different methods. Also, the methods vary in terms of the extent of control that a learner may have in learning. Appropriately selected method would be based on these different learner background related considerations