Effective Teaching Strategies

Make learning fun? I know, easier said than done. But just think back to your school days, of how you’d tune out when certain teachers droned on and on… That, obviously, is not the teacher you want to be. Here are some effective teaching strategies, that will help your classroom come alive:

Practical Examples
An effective teaching strategy that needs to be used more frequently is the use of practical examples. They can help students link theory to practical application, which results in more productive learning. While a sound theoretical base is important, it would not be effective without the understanding of practical application. Practical examples not only help enhance the theories taught in the classroom, but are also a useful tool in illustrating and explaining new material. By using these examples, educators are able to show students that what they are learning has practical applications and also teach them how to apply basic principles to real life problems. It is a good idea to use contemporary themes that students take an interest in. For example, the cost of concert tickets to the ‘Jonas Brothers’, to explain a math problem.

Show and Tell
The concept of “Show and Tell” is one that most teachers are familiar with. While it may came across as an interesting activity, its utility goes much deeper. One of the best aspects of show and tell is that it can be used for students in any age group. One of the primary objectives show and tell achieves is, of reversing the role of the student to teacher. In order to explain a concept to someone else, a student must first truly understand the concept himself / herself. This requires them to understand and analyze the selected subject deeply, and establish a clear line of thinking, to be able to explain the phenomena to their peers.

Case Studies
A case study is a combination of the above two strategies for effective teaching, since cases are a compilation of “real-life” activity, in which theories have been put to practical use. As finding a case that fits the class material may be challenging, a teacher may provide students with case material or leave it up to them to find and develop. If the case material is provided, then students are expected to go through it and be prepared to answer questions about various aspects of the case. If students are expected to develop a case, their work load will increase significantly, and must be balanced out with fewer other assignments. Students are usually required to work in groups while preparing, presenting the case and fielding questions. As a teacher, one is required to guide the discussion, keeping in mind the goal of the case.

Open-Ended Quizzes
Among the effective teaching strategies or effective teaching methods, this one is my favorite. Open-ended quizzes really challenge students to think and come up with their own solutions and methods. The objective of this quiz is in direct opposition to normal quizzes that require students to memorize and reproduce. An interesting method employed is to provide the students with take-home exam sheets which they can give in after a period of a few weeks. Now this is the interesting part: students who produce straightforward answers will receive a minimum passing grade. Higher grades would be awarded to those who display a deeper understanding of the material, the ability to apply techniques from other disciplines and the ability to evaluate.

Another fun and effective teaching technique, brainstorming engages students and forces participation. There are many different ways to brainstorm with your class. One can provide the entire class with a topic to discuss and each student is required to contribute at least one idea. Alternately, students may contribute ideas as and when they think of them, though this can lead to unequal participation. One may also split the class into small groups, which can discuss and present their idea after a given amount of time.

by Marian K.

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