By Xiaomin Wang, El Paso Community College
teachers are very knowledgeable about the subject they are teaching,
they often rely on one teaching technique to impart this information.
This self-paced module will acquaint the reader with a variety of teaching
techniques--providing websites as illustration.
is an activity used to generate ideas in small groups. The purpose is
to generate as many ideas as possible within a specified time period.
These ideas are not evaluated until the end, and a wide range of ideas
is often produced. Each idea produced does not need to be usable. Instead,
initial ideas can be viewed as a starting pint for more workable ideas.
The principle of brainstorming is that you need a lot of ideas to get
good ideas. The Internet TESL Journal's article "Brainstorming
Before Speaking Tasks" describes research on how brainstorming affects
learning and also gives practical implementation tips.
Section 2: Case Study
Case Study method is for detailed, documented studies and descriptions
of a real-life situation, event, or problem. A critical incident analysis
is a brief, more narrowly focused version of a case study.
Reed, John H. (2002). A guide to classroom instruction for adjunct
faculty. Washington, D.C: American Chemical Society.
The University of Buffalo's website for Case Study Teaching in Science
describes this teaching method beautifully:
"Case studies are stories with an educational message. They have been
used as parables and cautionary tales for centuries, yet their formal
use in the science classroom is recent. So recent, in fact, that until
the early 1990s the case study literature in science was virtually non-existent.
Until this time, faculty had neither taught with cases, written cases,
nor seen one. This only began to change as more and more faculty realized
the inadequacies of the lecture method and began to seek novel methods
of instruction. Enter the case study, a method imported from business,
law, and medical schools." This site is a goldmine of links to essays
and articles about how to use case studies in the classroom.
3: Concept Mapping
Concept mapping is a drawing/diagram with a brief description of how someone
or some group thinks certain concepts are related--there is no right or
wrong approach. It serves as a conceptual structure pertaining to a subject
and is developed by using any kinds of shapes to represent concepts plus
segments to represent linking and the relationships between concepts.
Dogan-Dunlap, H. and de Smet, Juana R. Greater El Paso Council of Teachers
of Mathematics Fall Conference, 2002.
This article explains the definition, purpose, advantage, and application
of the concept mapping technique. “Concept Mapping: A Graphical
System for Understanding the Relationship Between Concepts” a synopsis
by Eric Plotnick
“Concept Mapping,” by Steven Hale at Georgia Perimeter
College, describes the steps of constructing concept maps and give some
examples as illustration.
Concept maps can be developed on paper, on the chalkboard, or on a computer. The software company Inspiration offers the following observation
about the use of visual learning techniques: "Concept maps are ideal for
measuring the growth of student learning. As students create concept maps,
they reiterate ideas using their own words. Misdirected links or wrong
connections alert educators to what students do not understand, providing
an accurate, objective way to evaluate areas in which students do not
yet grasp concepts fully." A free 30-day trial of Inspiration software,
which students can use to develop concept maps, can be downloaded from: http://www.inspiration.com/freetrial/
Section 4: Critical Thinking
Michael Scriven and Richard Paul, writing for the National Council
for Excellence in Critical Thinking, define the process this way: "Critical
thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully
conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating
information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection,
reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action." For
more on their philosophy, read "Defining Critical Thinking."
"Critical Thinking Strategies" from Facilitating Online Learning:
Effective Strategies for Moderators discusses how to sharpen the
focus and deepen the dialogue within an electronic discussion. Although
these methods for fostering students' critical thinking skills apply
to web based learning, they can certainly be adapted for regular classroom
George Collison, Bonnie Elbaum, Sarah Haavind, and Robert Tinker (Atwood
Publishing: Madison, WI, 2000).
“How to Keep Your Students Thinking” adapted from Ellen Sarkisian's
Participatory Lectures, from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning,
Harvard Univ., 1992, explains how to use questioning strategies to keep
even large numbers of students engaged with learning. Sarkisian notes:
"When students engage actively with material, they generally understand
it better and remember it longer. Student participation often results
in covering less material during a semester. Yet it also can mean that
students learn more information than when the material is simply "covered" because
they actively use it and have more chances to clear up confusion. Large
numbers of students in class do not preclude interaction. The following
techniques to open up lectures to student participation have been used
in classes of up to 1200 students, as well as with smaller groups."
Section 5: Distance Learning
its most basic level, distance education takes place when a teacher and
student(s) are separated by physical distance, and technology (i.e., voice,
video, data, and print), often in concert with face-to-face communication,
is used to bridge the instructional gap." Barry Willis and the University
of Idaho Engineering Outreach staff have developed thirteen guides covering
a wide range of concerns in distance learning.
This essay, which originally appeared in print as: Chickering, Arthur
and Stephen C. Ehrmann (1996), "Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology
as Lever," AAHE Bulletin, October, pp. 3-6, describes some
of the most cost-effective and appropriate ways to use computers, video,
and telecommunications technologies to advance the Seven Principles for
Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. On this website, the article's
content has been updated to reflect new developments in the fields of
teaching, learning, and technology.
Section 6: Group Discussion
students are going to feel that discussion invites them to develop and
express their ideas in an unpressured way, then the discussion leader
must find a way to teach that is neither too dominant nor too reserved."
Chapter 10 from Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques
for Democratic Classrooms by Brookfield, Stephen and Stephen Preskill.
(San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999) discusses at length the
roles, responsibilities and actions of a discussion leader. It also provides
a checklist of questions that a teacher can use to maintain the balance
between "saying too much" and "saying too little."
The article "Suggestions for Leading Small-Group Discussions" from Iowa
State's Center for Teaching Excellence, outlines how and when to use small
group discussions as a teaching technique.
“Small Group Teaching” by David Jaques focuses on group characteristics
and dynamics, instructor interventions, and methods for evaluating how
well the technique has worked.
This article discusses how to distribute job duties in group work. An
example of an assignment for a group of 4 or 5 students is given. “Group
Work: Using Job Duties in the Classroom” by Jennifer Gray, Nevada-California
International Consortium, Japan.
"Tips for Grading Group Work" by Kathleen McKinney, Cross Chair in the
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Professor of Sociology, Illinois
State University, examines how (and whether) group work should be graded.
Glenn Blackwell's paper, "Group Discussion Techniques in a Technical Course"
discusses his use of small group discussions in engineering courses and
how these discussions relate to the test format he uses.
with Excellence, a UC-Berkeley compendium of best teaching practices
by Barbara Gross Davis, Lynn Wood, and Robert C. Wilson, contains
several sections relevant to developing and delivering lectures as a teaching
Lectures play a vital role in teaching. Here are twenty ways to make lectures
more participatory. Adapted from Participatory Lectures, Derek Bok Center
for Teaching and Learning, 1992.
This article, "What Constitutes a Good Lecture?" offers an inside look
at how students view lectures.
Jann Lacoss, Faculty Consultant, UVA Teaching Resource Center and Jennifer
Chylack, Graduate Student Associate,
“The Muddiest Point in the Lecture as a Feedback Device”discusses
the three questions that can be asked at the end of class as feedback.
Frederick Mosteller, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, 1989.
Section 8: Peer Review Activities
State University's Writing Center walks you through the use of peer review
as a teaching technique. Topics include:
for Peer Review Sessions
Students Make Effective Comments
Students Handle Divergent Advice
Sample workshop sheets
The Bedford Workshop on Teaching Writing Online goes into detail about how
to teach students to review other students' writing and then explains additional
techniques for peer review, including:
Outloud--the virtue of simply sharing for sharing's sake.
of Gravity--where you describe the focal point of the paper.
you support, then challenge, a writer's ideas.
- Say Back--
where you recall as much as you can based on what the writer wrote.
you describe a paper in 'other' terms.
you reveal the essence of a thought.
for Flow-- helping writers share their logic and the connections their
making sure the paper meets requirements.
you describe what's almost said or one the verge of being expressed.
Reading--serving as your classmate's eyes.
Reviews--a group activity where you meet with other writers to talk
about peer reviews received.
should play an important role in every classroom - both students’
questions and teachers’ questions. Teachers can create an active
learning environment by encouraging students to ask and answer questions.
This excerpt from the TA Handbook on the University of Delaware’s
Center for Teaching Excellence website discusses how teachers should ask
questions and how to encourage students to ask questions.
The article "Questioning Techniques for Active Learning" by C. M.
Wang and Grace Ong provides tips on asking good questions as well as links
to other issues of the online journal Ideas on Teaching, Center
for the Development of Teaching and Learning, National University of Singapore,
In the paper “Wait Time: Slowing Down May Be A Way of Speeding Up,”
Professor Mary Budd Rowe discusses the concepts of wait time 1 (pausing
after asking a question) and wait time 2 (pausing after a student response).
Based on her research, the conclusion is that the quality of discussion
can be markedly improved by increasing up to 3 seconds or longer the average
wait times used by teachers after a question and after a response.
Rowe, M. B. (1986). Wait Time: Slowing Down May Be A Way of Speeding Up!
Journal of Teacher Education, 43-50.
Section 10: Role Playing/Simulation
is the name given to one particular type of simulation that focuses attention
on the interaction of people with one another. It emphasizes the functions
performed by different people under various circumstances. The idea of
role-play, in its simplest form, is that of asking someone to imagine
that they are either themselves or another person in a particular situation.
They are then asked to behave exactly as they feel that person would.
As a result of doing this they, or the rest of the class, or both, will
learn something about the person and/or situation. In essence, each player
acts as a part of the social environment of the others and provides a
framework in which they can test out their repertoire of behaviours or
study the interacting behaviour of the group."
van Ments, M., The Effective Use of Role Play: A Handbook for Teachers
& Trainers. Revised ed. 1989, New York: Nichols Publishing. 186.
In role playing, students assume the roles of various characters, such
as historical or literary figures, scientists, political theorists, employees,
etc. The role players may practice particular behaviors or skills
while the other students observe and then critique the performance and
Reed, John H. (2002). A guide to classroom instruction for adjunct
faculty. Washington, D.C: American Chemical Society.
In this article by Patricia J. Tomkins, the role playing/simulation method
is analyzed using the formats of approach, design, and procedure.
The Educational Simulation Website describes three broad types of simulations
and gives related links:
or Meeting--No props, no costumes, (but lots of preparation) …
pretend to be a group you're not…
Simulation--require a special facility or maybe a few props -- from
the modest to the sophisticated
Reality--You need a computer...or computers... but these simulations
can be amazing!
With the popularity of computer gaming, it was only natural that real-life
role play games would be translated to virtual reality. "Pedagogical
Foundations of Web-based Simulations in Political Science" outlines and
discusses some of the pedagogical foundations of an innovative "learning
architecture" which combines the power of goal-based learning, role playing,
the capabilities of the World Wide Web and the traditional method of lectures
Linser, R., Naidu, S., & Ip,A., "Pedagogical Foundations of Web-based
Simulations in Political Science." in Winn, J. (ed) "Conference Proceedings:
ASCILITE 99 Responding to Diversity", pp. 191-198
11: More Teaching Tips
is Good Teaching?” by K. P. Mohanan, Center for the Development
of Teaching and Learning, National University of Singapore, 2000
“Good Teaching: The Top Ten Requirements” by Richard Leblanc,
York University, Ontario
List of strengths and limitations of 14 teaching methods, such as lecture,
lecture with discussion. brainstorming, videotapes, class discussion,
small group discussion, case studies, etc.
Practical tips on improving your teaching.
Ten things that teachers can do to help students with learning differences
succeed in the regular classroom, adapted from Learning to Learn
by Carolyn Olivier and Rosemary Bowler (Simon and Schuster)
This website, Some Characteristics of Learners, with Teaching Implications,
provides helpful comparison tables examining:
- adult learners vs. youth learners
- instructor-centered vs. student-centered teaching
- styles of thinking
- styles of learning