Winning Instructional Strategies

Most instructors enjoy students who can sit through a lecture, review all course materials, and apply the concepts without issue. There are not many of these students out there however so we need to consider the instructional strategies we are using in the classroom. The strategies we employ impact students' willingness to pay attention and apply concepts.

I would like to stop here and tell you that I am not suggesting that we take part in “edutainment.” I am simply suggesting that we keep our audience in mind when we plan lessons. Here are two powerful instructional strategies that can help keep your students engaged and encourage the application of learning.

Online Guest Speakers

Using guest speakers is not a new concept, but websites like YouTube and TED Talks give you access to new content. There are thousands of experts presenting on thousands of topics on these sites. I have shared TED Talks about motivation, habits, introversion, and world peace. This eclectic list shows the range of topics and I am only scratching the surface. I strongly suggest watching all web based videos before showing the lectures in class, but that probably goes without saying.

Guest speakers break up the lecture and show learners that others care about the topic. Honestly, this type of instruction requires little student involvement and requires the instructor to lead, in most cases. It might be more interesting than hearing their everyday instructor speak.

Group Problem Solving

All instructors want their students to be good problem solvers, and having them work in groups is an other approach to take. Instructional strategies like these help engage the learner. Further, asking students to solve problems in groups or pairs will encourage learners to apply concepts and how to consider the perspectives of others.

There are websites that offer free group problem-solving activities. Teachers Pay Teachers is a popular one so do not be fooled by the name. The website offers free resources. Discovery Education also offers a number of free resources for K-12 students.

Group problem-solving allows students to actively engage with the concepts. It is often considered a collaborative instructional strategy. It does require planning, evaluation, and revision. Very rarely can an instructor plan a group activity and expect it to go exactly as expected the first time. Keep this in mind.

The methods we use to expose our learners to concepts impacts their level of engagement and willingness to apply the concepts. The instructional strategies above just scratch the surface. Use the methods above and branch out to the other ways to engage students in the learning process.


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