There are many teaching and learning activities which are used to achieve lesson plan aims and objectives. The choice will depend upon a number of factors, such as the domain and level of objective. For example, the most appropriate activities to learn a motor skill is through demonstration and individual practice whereas to gain knowledge and understanding a lecture, group debate and question and answer sessions activities are more appropriate (Reese and Walker p137).
Reese and Walker (pg 140) states that Honey and Mumford (1986) published the manual of learning styles which identified four main learning styles:
Activists whom, enjoy the present, like the immediate experience and respond to short term issues
Reflectors whom, prefer to think about things and explore all aspects before coming to a conclusion.
Theorists whom, like principles, theories, models and systems.
Pragmatists whom look for new ideas and are keen to experiment
We as teachers therefore need to think about what teaching strategies the students prefer, particular in a class which consists of a mixture of activists, reflectors, theorist and pragmatists.
The group size is another important factor to consider when choosing a learning activity. Different strategies/ activities are more appropriate for different group size. At one extreme a ‘group’ may consist of only one student. In such circumstances methods such as projects or assignments, and tutoring may be more suitable whereas for small groups of between 5 and 20 students, a discussion method is suitable. A group between 10 and 20 the approach often adopted is what is traditionally called ‘classroom teaching’ (Reese and Walker pg 137) which consists of a mixture of methods. Groups greater than 20 students, suitable strategies could be lecture and demonstration.
Generally, students learn in different ways: an approach that is appropriate to one student may not be appropriate for another. Some people learn better in a group through the interaction with both the teacher and other students. We must therefore realise the importance of varying learning activities for our students (Reese and Walker, pg 138).
The aims and objectives of this assignment are to:
a) Review the range of teaching and learning activities available to promote open access and widening participation. Review the range of resources available within the organisation for a selected curriculum area
b) Prepare, use and evaluate one of teaching and learning activities and resources.
c) Evaluate one of the activities selected.
d) Analyse the strengths and challenges of the selected resource and how it has supported learning.
Teaching and Learning Activities
As discussed by Petty (pg 15) there are two approaches to guide the choice of activities, the mnemonic EDUCARE (table 1.1) and CIA (table 1.2). Educare is a suitable guide when learning is focused on acquiring specific skills whereas CIA is a more indirect approach to arranging corrected practise if learning is not focused on acquiring specific skills.
Explanation, student needs to understand why the skill is required
Doing-Detail via demonstration or case study, for example
Use, practise skill
Check and correct practise
Aide-memoire, student requires reminder- for example notes, handout
Review and reuse, of earlier work so that old learning is not forgotten
Table 1.1 (Petty, pg15)
Content, Clarify topic content to an appropriate depth and breadth
Ideas, Determine contents main: concepts, factors, evidence, viewpoints etc
Activities, Create questions and activities where students must reason with the key ideas
Table 1.1 (Petty, pg 357)
I apply both approaches depending on the subject area, in some instances EDUCARE may be a more suitable guide for a topic in chemistry whereas CIA is suitable for a topic in biology. For the training aspect of my job the CIA approach is more appropriate because the trainees teaching are not acquiring specific skills.
My current role at Thermo Electron Corporation involves training clients on how utilise sophisticated equipments and teach chemistry classes and assist biology classes voluntarily at St Helens College.
The training sessions runs for 2 days 09:00 to 16:30 every three months. The number of clients range between 5 and 12 with different scientific backgrounds and various levels of experience with the equipments. The next training session will be on April 25th and 26th for 8 clients. The total number of training hours is 15. I have a training manual from the former trainer which I follow for each training session. The training sessions involves audio, visual and kinaesthetic teaching styles. I use OHP, handouts and demonstrations.
The organic chemistry and physiology course duration is 16 weeks (from January 2006 to May 2006). The chemistry are 3 hours in the evenings, 5 students in total of mixed gender, aged 16-19, and all students are currently employed by United Utilities and come on the course on day release basis from their employers. Their main reason for being on the course is for qualification purposes to improve career prospects and the recommendation by their employer. The physiology classes are 3 hours per week, 18 students in total, mixed gender and age ranges 16-19. Most are straight from secondary school others are repeating the units. I currently assist the tutor to set-up practical session.
The teaching and learning activities (particularly in a classroom environment) that I use in order to promote open access and encourage participation include Ice-breakers, group activities (games, quizzes), brainstorming sessions and discussions. The ice-breakers and informal introductions allows learners to know each other and usually reveal what the learners bring to the group; such as, questions, experience (good or bad, personal and academic), and varied levels of knowledge of the subject.
The activities I use more frequently are group activities. I split the group into 2 or 3 group (depending on activity and the no. of attendees) to carry out matching card games, electronic games or to partake in a quiz.
Matching cards game.
The maximum number of students on the evening organic chemistry course is five, for this reason they all work in a group. I prepare two sets of cards, one set with question and the other set with answers. During the lesions the students are told to arrange the seating so as to work in a team. They are then presented with the cards are given a period of time in which to complete the task.
The students work individually. Prior to the lesson I research subject-related game on the internet. The last game found had a ‘game show’ type theme, “who wants to be a millionaire type” format. The more questions you answer correctly the closer the chances of winning ï¿½1Million!
The class is arranged again in a ‘game show’ setting, split into two groups. The team that gives the highest number of answers correctly wins the game.
These activities prove favourable for the students, it makes the learning process fun and interesting, at the same time encouraging teamwork and participation.
The group activities also gives me the opportunity to observe social interaction; study learner’s relationship with one another; gain an insight to their character and; identify confident, reluctant, dominant and quieter characters. I would definitely reuse this method as it is a very effective learning method.
Although the activities have proven successful there are areas of improvement. Such introducing more different types of games; setting tasks so that at the right level for all students; setting different tasks for different students; stretching activities for students/groups whom finish early; check students work by moving systematically round the class; looking over their shoulders and possibly; asking students to self-check or peer-check. For tasks such as the “Matching cards game” it ensures that no one is completing the tasks incorrectly, and would allow the tutor to manage the tasks more effectively (Petty, pg 170).
A resource, as defined by Reece and Walker is “a support to teaching strategies which assists learning. The resources I often use to present materials and teach are WB, handouts, OHP, and the Internet.
Aside the Whiteboard, the resource I use most often are handouts (see attached example of my lesson plan). The handouts are distributed at the start of the lesson.
The handouts are combinations of worksheets and information handouts. They include text, Q & A sections and diagrams from the internet or/and textbooks relevant to the topic for that session. The worksheets (incomplete handouts) have gaps which the students are expected to fill-in during the lesson and on occasions complete for homework
The source of diagrams and texts are always referenced, for copy-write purposes and to encourage the student do own research/study. The diagrams are colourful illustrations; and the text is often printed on coloured paper in order to differentiate between different aspects. The students are talked through the handouts and asked to answer the questions or fill-in the ‘gaps’ individually (occasionally in groups).
I find this resource a very effective visual aid for learning; it is simple, to the point and interesting. The main advantages of visual aids as discussed by Petty are; they gain attention; they add variety and interest; they aid conceptualisation, many ideas are understood visually rather than verbally; they aid memory, I find that the students find visual information easier to remember than verbal information and lastly; they show you care, going to trouble of preparing visual aids shows students you take their learning seriously.
The resources weakness on the other-hand is that the learner tends not to read the handouts that are why it is good practice to include incomplete handouts at the start of the lesson. Completion of the handout can form the focus of the learning (Reece and Walker pg 212).
I evaluate the chosen aid by asking my students their opinion about the suitability and whether they assisted learning. The feedback is generally positive, especially about the bright coloured papers!
Petty (1998 pg 121) states that “in order to make an informed choice of teaching method and in order to be adaptable and have a variety of activities for lesson planning, the teacher must know what teaching methods are available; what are the strengths and weaknesses of these methods; what purpose each of them can serve and; how each should be used in practice.”
I choose resources that are best suited to my teaching methods. Depending on the topic my methods can include one or more of the following; audio, visual, activities, demonstrations and discussions. For example the white board, handouts and cards are resources best suited for brainstorming/discussion and group activities.
According to Reese and Walker (pg 138) “we as teachers need to consider how to provide the experiences so as to make learning as easy and quick to possible. Two possible approaches are; to design a teaching programme where the content is carefully derived from an analysis of the student’s personal, social/or vocational needs, and which is implemented by the tutor in controlled and organised manner; the second approach starts from the experience of the student. It then depends upon the student identifying and accepting a need to learn.
The teaching methods which allow this second approach to be implemented will be project work derived from students’ current experience, discussions, activities designed to provide opportunities for specific learning outcomes, and the learning of specific problem-solving techniques.
Petty, G. Teaching Today, second edition, 1998, pages 121-166 and 315-333.
Reece, I. and Walker, S. Teaching, Training and Learning. A practical guide, fourth edition, 2000, pages 6, 49-57, 531-533.