More Approaches to Teaching

by John Jacobs, Judith Branzburg, et.al.

Classroom Observation

Learning teaching techniques through observation and discussion of other instructors’ teaching.

Relation to Aims, Overall Objectives and Learning Styles:

  • Exposes instructor to a variety of pedagogical methods and styles.
  • Increases collegiality.
  • Allows for "cross-pollination" between both instructors.

Methods:

  • Visit classrooms.
  • View video demonstrations.
  • Make notes during observation.
  • Take other instructors’ courses to learn ways of augmenting one’s own methods.

Pitfalls

  • You select a bad teacher to observe.

 

 

Conferencing

Scheduling individual and group conferences with instructor to discuss assignments, goals, and procedures.

Relation to Aims, Overall Objectives and Learning Styles:

  • Helps build the learning community.
  • Helps establish student confidence.
  • Builds commitment to the class.
  • Creates a more personal relationship to and passion for the material.
  • Instructor learns about student and his/her learning style.
  • Elicits verbal communication from student
  • Enables student to be actively engaged in learning process.
  • Gives students greater direct involvement in their learning.
  • Encourages students to look at their work critically.
  • Connects students to instructor and classroom.
  • Reveals problems students are having in the classroom as a whole.

Methods:

  • Determine format (group, individual).
  • Find and establish location (office, classroom, lab, library, e-mail, hallway, skills centers).
  • Plan class activity during conferences (workshopping, group exercises, writing, textbook activities, lab work, etc.).
  • Establish frequency and duration of conferences.
  • Determine schedule (in-class, office hours, outside-of-class time).
  • Develop one-on-one techniques (sensitivity, clarity, focus/goal).

Results of conferencing:

  • Get to know student better.
  • Develop channels for further communication.
  • Work on specific assignment.
  • Provide for supplemental resources.
  • Get feedback on group projects.

dig deeperMore about Conferencing

 

 

Best Practices:

  • Informal conference: Part-time instructor had an unplanned parking lot conversation with student in which he explained life situation and confirmed his intention to pass the class, despite being behind with assignments. Benefit: instructor made a more informed decision about student’s status in the class.
  • During discussion over a paper, student was surprised and happy to learn she had a "good idea," due to instructor’s positive comment. Benefit: Built student’s confidence and recognition of her own intellectual process.
  • In an art class, instructor suggested to student during conference that he should go see three specific artists whose work related to his own. Benefit: Student incorporated these other artists’ concepts into his own without simply copying.

Pitfalls

  • Student doesn’t show up.
  • Student doesn’t bring assignment.
  • Student is late.
  • Conference goes too long, or must be cut off.
Outside of Classroom

Learning involving experience and information gathered outside the classroom (field trips).

Relations to Aims, Overall Objectives and Learning Styles:

  • Enhances student interest.
  • Especially effective for active learning aims.
  • Applies knowledge and skills to problem-solving.
  • Varies classroom routines.
  • Develops community.

Methods:

  • Select and integrate activities into curriculum.
  • Preview, plan, devise back-up plans.
  • Deal with logistics (travel, supplies, paperwork, etc.).
  • Determine student and faculty roles.
  • Determine public interaction.
  • Establish student accountability.
  • Determine assessment structure and criteria.
  • Select reporting methodology.
  • Dry run field trips.
  • Plan for pre and post classroom briefings and de-briefings.

dig deeperMore about teaching Outside the Classroom

 

 

Best Practices:

  • In literature classes, students attend plays.
  • In art classes, students go to museums.
  • In astronomy classes, students visit observatories or travel out of the city to view night sky.
  • In geology classes, students go to remote locations to mine materials and apply learned principles.

 

Pitfalls

  • Group gets lost.
  • Enjoyable activity without learning.
  • Advent of negative circumstances: weather, closures, etc.
Paired / Block Courses

Building two or more courses that share the same group of students.

Relation to Aims, Overall Objectives and Learning Styles:

  • Build learning communities.
  • Conveys knowledge.
  • Promotes critical thinking.

Methods:

  • Determine appropriate combinations of courses.
  • Synchronize syllabi (determine how to combine projects to meet multiple learning objectives).
  • Maintain communication and cohesion: collaboratively review progress (formative evaluation) of course throughout duration.


Best Practices:

  • Architecture and geology classes collaborate on concepts in designing a museum to sit on the San Andreas Fault.
  • Developmental ESL and developmental math courses are paired to improve students’ English skills while enhancing their chances of succeeding in math.
  • Geography and composition courses are paired to incorporate language skills with science.
  • Composition is often paired with any other course to help improve writing skills in specific disciplines.
  • Other common pairings: history and literature, math and physical sciences, ethnic studies and history and literature.

 

Service Learning

Learning outside the classroom through service to community activities/organizations (volunteerism, internships, student-as-educator).

Relation to Aims, Overall Objectives and Learning Styles:

  • Expands learning community to outside the campus.
  • Requires students to take responsibility for their own learning.
  • Encourages students to apply knowledge and skills to problem solving.

Methods:

  • Plan integration of service learning into the course.
  • Inform community of service learning opportunities.
  • Facilitate discussion between learners and community to establish roles and responsibilities.
  • Train students for in-service work.
  • Arrange for site-based feedback.
  • Select method of student reporting.
  • Establish assessment criteria.

dig deeperOverview Service Learning

dig deeperHow to Develop and Implement Your Service Learning Course

 

 

Best Practices:

  • STAR (Student Talking About Race) Program: Students are trained to go to local high schools to discuss issues about race.
  • Students in political science classes work for political campaigns
  • Nursing students work in clinics

 

Pitfalls

  • Service learning activities do not enhance the learning of the student: student ends up doing clerical work rather than building knowledge.