|Course:||Postgraduate Certificate - Tertiary Level Teaching|
|Module:||Selecting appropriate teaching/learning methods|
|Page:||24 - Some hints|
Some hints on how to select appropriate teaching/learning methods.
Now that we have surveyed the broad range of teaching/learning methods that are available, let us end this section with some general guidance on how to set about choosing which methods to use with your own students in different situations. It is suggested that you do this by working through the algorithm shown in Figure 4, which can be thought of as a sub-system of the overall systems approach to course and curriculum design that is shown in Figure 1. The various stages of the process should be tackled as follows.
Figure 4 : Algorithm for selecting
Stage 1 : Clarifying your educational objectives
If you are satisfied that you know exactly what your educational objectives are, whether these are couched in traditional aims/learning outcomes form or in terms of competence descriptors, proceed directly to Stage 2. If not, refer to an appropriate Course Module Descriptor (or the equivalent) and find out what they are. If sufficiently detailed objectives do not already exist, write your own in whatever format is considered appropriate, using the previous section on 'Specifying the Outcomes of Student Learning' for guidance.
Stage 2 : Provisional selection of teaching/learning method(s)
If you are an experienced teacher, you will probably be able to choose an appropriate method (or mix of methods) for achieving a particular objective (or group of objectives) on the basis of 'gut feeling', or 'instinct'. If so, proceed directly to Stage 2. If not, you may find the following general pointers of some assistance.
With multi-faceted objectives or competences that transcend conventional domain boundaries, it may, of course, be necessary to employ a battery of teaching/learning methods, or to make use of an integrating activity such as work-based experience or placement.
Stage 3 : Determining whether your students will be comfortable with the chosen method(s)
There is no point in using methods which your students will not be able to handle - because they are not sufficiently mature, for example, or because they lack vital pre-requisite skills or do not have access to essential equipment or facilities. This is a particularly important consideration when planning things like distance-learning courses, where it is absolutely essential to make your teaching/learning methods as 'user-friendly' as possible.
Stage 4 : Determining whether you will be comfortable with the chosen method(s)
It is just as important that you yourself feel comfortable with the teaching/learning method(s) that you are using, for, if you do not, you are very unlikely to use the method(s) properly. Remember that students are very quick to spot a lecturer who is clearly not fully competent in what he or she is trying to do - and quite ruthless in making you aware of this fact. Thus, only use methods that you are confident you can use effectively. If you do not feel happy with a particular method, choose something else, or, take appropriate steps to ensure that you will feel comfortable with the method when you use it (eg by undertaking colleague observation or staff development of some sort).
Stage 5 : Determining whether the method(s) will be practicable
Here, it is necessary to ask yourself such questions as:
If there are any problems that you do not think you will be able to overcome, think again.
Stage 6 : Determining whether you will be allowed to use the method(s)
This is such an obvious question that it is often not even asked, but it is very important. Make sure that what you are proposing to do is culturally appropriate and consistent with the Course Regulations and the Course Module Descriptor, If necessary find out whether your colleagues/subject leader/year leader/ course leader/Head of School will be happy with your plans. If not, either persuade them or think again.
Stage 7 : Using the chosen method(s) with your students
If your ideas have come through Stages 3-6 unscathed, carry out any preparatory work needed to put them into practice. Detailed guidance on how to use all the various methods covered can be obtained from mentors, educational development colleagues or national networks like the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA). Good luck!