Instructional Strategy (IS) defined
An instructional strategy is a method you would use in your teaching (in the classroom, online, or in some other medium) to help activate students’ curiosity about a class topic, to engage the students in learning, to probe critical thinking skills, to keep them on task, to engender sustained and useful classroom interaction, and, in general, to enable and enhance their learning of course content.
The goal of an Instructional Strategy is to enable learning, to motivate the learners, to engage them in learning, to help them focus. There is NO one best strategy; we can select from several instructional strategies for just about any teaching episode. It is important to vary your instruction to not only keep the students’ interest but also to allow them to interact with your content in a variety of ways.
There is a variety of teaching strategies that instructors can use to improve student learning. The instructional strategies below will show you some ways to make your classes more engaging.
- Active Learning – Active Learning is anything that students do in a classroom other than merely passively listening to an instructor’s lecture. Research shows that active learning improves students’ understanding and retention of information and can be very effective in developing higher order cognitive skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.
- Clicker Use in Class – Clickers enable instructors to rapidly collect and summarize student responses to multiple-choice questions they ask of students in class.
- Collaborative/Cooperative Learning – Cooperative and collaborative learning are instructional approaches in which students work together in small groups to accomplish a common learning goal. They need to be carefully planned and executed, but they don’t require permanently formed groups.
- Critical Thinking – Critical thinking is a collection of mental activities that include the ability to intuit, clarify, reflect, connect, infer, and judge. It brings these activities together and enables the student to question what knowledge exists.
- Discussion Strategies – Engaging students in discussion deepens their learning and motivation by propelling them to develop their own views and hear their own voices. A good environment for interaction is the first step in encouraging students to talk.
- Experiential Learning – Experiential learning is an approach to education that focuses on “learning by doing,” on the participant’s subjective experience. The role of the educator is to design “direct experiences” that include preparatory and reflective exercises.
- Games/Experiments/Simulations – Games, experiments and simulations can be rich learning environments for students. Students today have grown up playing games and using interactive tools such as the Internet, phones, and other appliances. Games and simulations enable students to solve real-world problems in a safe environment and enjoy themselves while doing so.
- Humor in the Classroom – Using humor in the classroom can enhance student learning by improving understanding and retention.
- Inquiry-Guided Learning – With the inquiry method of instruction, students arrive at an understanding of concepts by themselves and the responsibility for learning rests with them. This method encourages students to build research skills that can be used throughout their educational experiences.
- Interdisciplinary Teaching – Interdisciplinary teaching involves combining two different topics into one class. Instructors who participate in interdisciplinary teaching find that students approach the material differently, while faculty members also have a better appreciation of their own discipline content.
- Learner-Centered Teaching – Learner-Centered teaching means the student is at the center of learning. The student assumes the responsibility for learning while the instructor is responsible for facilitating the learning. Thus, the power in the classroom shifts to the student.
- Learning Communities – Communities bring people together for shared learning, discovery, and the generation of knowledge. Within a learning community, all participants take responsibility for achieving the learning goals. Most important, learning communities are the process by which individuals come together to achieve learning goals.
- Lecture Strategies – Lectures are the way most instructors today learned in classes. However, with today’s students, lecturing does not hold their attention for very long, even though they are a means of conveying information to students.
- Mobile Learning – Mobile Learning is any type of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed location.
- Online/Hybrid Courses – Online and hybrid courses require careful planning and organization. However, once the course is implemented, there are important considerations that are different from traditional courses. Communication with students becomes extremely important.
- Problem-Based Learning – Problem-based Learning (PBL) is an instructional method that challenges students to “learn to learn,” working in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. The process replicates the commonly used systemic approach to resolving problems or meeting challenges that are encountered in life, and will help prefer students for their careers.
- Service Learning – Service learning is a type of teaching that combines academic content with civic responsibility in some community project. The learning is structured and supervised and enables the student to reflect on what has taken place.
- Social Networking Tools – Social networking tools enable faculty to engage students in new and different means of communication.
- Teaching Diverse Students – Instructors today encounter a diverse population in their courses and many times need assistance in knowing how to deal with them.
- Teaching with Cases – Case studies present students with real-life problems and enable them to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real life situations. Cases also encourage students to develop logical problem solving skills and, if used in teams, group interaction skills. Students define problems, analyze possible alternative actions and provide solutions with a rationale for their choices.
- Team-Based Learning – Team-based learning (TBL) is a fairly new approach to teaching in which students rely on each other for their own learning and are held accountable for coming to class prepared. Research has found that students are more responsible and more engaged when team-based learning is implemented. The major difference in TBL and normal group activities is that the groups are permanent and most of the class time is devoted to the group meeting.
- Team Teaching – At its best, team teaching allows students and faculty to benefit from the healthy exchange of ideas in a setting defined by mutual respect and a shared interest in a topic. In most cases both faculty members are present during each class and can provide different styles of interaction as well as different viewpoints.
- Writing Assignments – Writing assignments for class can provide an opportunity for them to apply critical thinking skills as well as help them to learn course content.
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