A goal of every teacher would be to be viewed by the students as a good instructor. There are several ways that this can be accomplished. One way is to be enthusiastic about teaching and by being a subject matter expert. Another way that this can be accomplished is by knowing the learning styles of the students. A third way this can be accomplished is by utilizing a variety of instructional methods when presenting lectures to the students. There are several instructional methods to choose from; however this paper will examine five methods as well as how to use each method, the advantages, limitations, and evaluation of each method. The instructional methods that will be presented in this paper are lecture; group discussion; one-to-one instruction; demonstration and return demonstration; and gaming.
The first method that will be discussed is lecture. According to Bastable (2008) “lecture can be defined as a highly structured method by which the teacher verbally transmits information directly to a group of learners for the purpose of instruction” (p. 430). The advantages of using the lecture format are many. Some examples that Bastable elides to the fact that lecture is a cost effective and efficient way to disseminate a great deal of information of a large audience of people in a reasonable amount of time. Lecture is a really effective method for teaching in the cognitive domain, especially if the instructor is teaching at the lower levels of this domain; can be utilized to provide background information to be used later, as in a group discussion; can be easily enhanced with audiovisual aids or materials that are handed out to the learners; as well as to point out meaningful trends and to summarize data in various unique ways. According to Covill (2011) college students report that they feel they work harder in lecture style classes to get a good grade and they also believe strongly that they learn a great deal from lecture as well as that their retention is long lasting. Another point to add about the advantages of lecture is that in a study of lecture versus computer based learning in current knowledge of critical care nurses and medical surgical nurses pertaining to pressure ulcers, the results of this study found a “highly statistically significant difference were found among the three groups on analysis of pre and post test mean scores [F(2, 57) = 35.784, p= .000], with the greatest gain in mean scores found in the lecture group” (Cox, Roche, & Van Wynen, 2011, p. 75).
The limitations of using the lecture format are many as well. The examples of limitations of lecture that Bastable (2008) discusses include the fact that lecture is doesn’t really work for teaching affective or psychomotor behaviors; is not very stimulating or allow for much participation from the learners; is instructor centered which means the teacher is the most knowledgeable and therefore the most active participant; differences in variables such as background, attention span, and learning style are not accounted for; independent of cognitive abilities, learning needs or stages of coping, the learners they are all exposed to the same information, and due to the diversity of the group, the teacher might not be able to reach all learners equally.
Since lecture is primarily designed for the cognitive domain of learning then the most appropriate way to evaluate if the lecture has been successful would be by administering a post test. An instructor might also choose to administer a pre-test before the lecture is presented to compare the baseline knowledge of the students to the knowledge gained by attending the lecture.
The second instructional method that will be explored is group discussion. Bastable (2008) defines group discussion as “a method of teaching whereby learners get together to exchange information, feelings, and opinions with one another and with the teacher” (p. 434). This method of instruction can be utilized for teaching in both the affective and cognitive domains of learning and is primarily learner centered as well as subject centered. The size of the group needs to be taken into consideration by the instructor if this instructional method is chosen because this method is most effective when utilized among a relatively small group of learners because the learners can take a more active role.
The major advantages of group discussion as include the fact that group discussion learning in both the cognitive and affective domains are enhances; is centered around both the learner and the subject; thinking about issues and problems is stimulated; members are encouraged to discuss their personal experiences which makes learning a more active process and is less isolating for the learner; opportunities for sharing of concerns and ideas are provided; feeling of belonging and support of peers; and previous learning is reinforced (Bastable, 2008)
Oztok, Zingaro, Brett, and Hewitt (2013) also go on to point out that group discussion is very beneficial in online education. All of the participants of the group do not need to be in attendance at that same time in order to foster a good discussion (Oztok et al. 2013).
Bastable (2008) also points out the major limitations of group discussion to be the discussion may be dominated by one or more member; digression from the main topic is easy and affects achievement of objectives; if a learner is shy they may refuse to participate or may require a great deal of encouragement; tactful skills to redirect the discussion may need to be implemented if the conversation digresses off topic or is being dominated by certain learners; transmission of information takes a great deal more time than other methods; and the teacher needs to be present at all sessions to facilitate the group and be a resource.
As pointed out earlier, this type of instructional method works well with both the affective and cognitive domains. To evaluate the effectiveness of this form of instruction in the cognitive domain a pre and post test could be administered by the instructor or just a post test. To evaluate the effectiveness in the affective domain the instructor need only look at the pre-established behavioral objectives. If said objectives were for a certain percentage of participants to verbalize feelings, then the instructor could count how many individual learners discussed feelings and know if this method was effective.
The third instructional method that will be discussed is one-to-one instruction. Bastable (2008) points out that “one-to-one instruction involves delivering information specifically designed to meet the needs of an individual learner and that is an opportunity for both the teacher and the learner to communicate knowledge, ideas, and feelings primarily through oral exchange, although nonverbal messages can be conveyed as well” (p. 436). This method is not intended to be a lecture to an individual learner but should be based on the unique needs of the learner and should also actively involve the learner. This type of instructional method can be utilized to teach in all three domains of learning. When utilizing this method of instruction, teaching should “be specific and time should be given for an immediate response from the learner followed by direct feedback from the teacher” (p. 438). The goal of this type of instruction is to get the learner to move from simply repeating what was learned to applying what was learned.
The major advantages of one-to-one instruction The pace of teaching and content can be customized to fit individual learning needs; is best used during an initial assessment and then subsequent evaluation of a learner; works well for instruction in all of the domains of learning; is suited well for teaching individuals who have a learning disability; low literacy, or come from a disadvantaged educational background; and opportunities for immediate feedback can happen between the instructor and the learner (Bastable, 2008).
Another advantage of one-to-one instructions is the fact that “the United States Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences reports that research evidence for one-to-one instruction meets the gold standard, meaning outcomes found to be effective in randomized controlled trials” (Reading Recovery Council of North America, 2006, p. 2).
Bastable (2008) also points out the major disadvantages of this instructional method to be isolation of the learner from other individuals who have similar needs or concerns might occur; the learner might be deprived of the opportunity to share information, ideas, and feelings or identify with others who are in similar circumstances; due to the sole focus of the instructor the learner may be put on the spot; interruption of the learner to ask questions could be mistaken as a way of the instructor testing skills and knowledge; feeling of being overwhelmed and anxiety may happen to the learner if the instructor tries to cram too much information into each teaching session.
Since this instructional method can be tailored to teach in all three of the teaching domains, evaluating the effectiveness of this method will depend on the goal of the behavioral objective. If the behavioral objective was written for the cognitive domain a post test could be administered; if the behavioral objective was written for the affective domain then the learner would have had to discuss feelings; and if the behavioral objective has been written for the psychomotor domain a return demonstration of a correct procedure or technique would show that the educational session was successful.
The fourth instructional method that will be explored and discussed is demonstration and return demonstration. Before this instructional method can be utilized the instructor needs to have a discussion by ensuring there is a clear distinction between demonstration and return demonstration. According to Bastable (2008) “demonstration is done by the teacher to show the learner how to perform a particular skill and return demonstration is carried out by the learner in an attempt to perform a task with cues from the teacher as needed” (p. 440-441). Demonstration is both a passive and active instructional method. It is passive for the learner but active for the instructor. This technique allows for mental rehearsal of procedures and also allows for the instructor to show how to handle mistakes should they occur.
Bastable (2008) points out the advantages the demonstration and return demonstrations method of instruction to be “especially effective for learning in the psychomotor domain; actively engages the learner through stimulation of visual, auditory, and tactile senses; repetition of movement and constant reinforcement increases confidence, competence, and skill retention; and provides opportunity for overlearning to achieve the goal” (p. 443). The disadvantages that Bastable points out for using this instructional method include the appropriate amount of time for teaching and learning to occur needs to be set aside; audience size must be kept small enough so the instructor can make sure there is plenty of opportunity for close supervision of practice; the cost of purchasing and replacing equipment can be very expensive; to practice certain skills more equipment and space may be needed; and there is a one to one teacher to student ratio when evaluation of the student competency occurs. Since this method of instruction works best for the psychomotor domain of learning, the best way to evaluate if the teaching session was successful is to have the student perform a skills check-off and do a one on one competency evaluation with the student.
The fifth and final instructional method that is being presented in this paper is gaming. Bastable (2008) defines gaming as “an instructional method requiring the learner to participate in a competitive activity with preset rules” (p. 443). With this type of instructional method applying knowledge and rehearsing skills previous learned is the goal. This type of method can be simple or complex and can be placed anywhere in a sequence of a learning activity. Tsai, Yu, and Hsiao (2012) state that “play is an intense learning experience in which both children and adults voluntarily invest enormous amounts of time, energy, and commitment, while at the same time deriving great enjoyment from the experience” (Tsai et al., 2012, p. 240). This could be one reason the gaming in education works so well.
Bastable (2008) points out that the major advantages of gaming are that games are fun and purposeful; stimulation of the enthusiasm of the learner and increasing the involvement of the learner leads to information retention; can be created and or modified for groups or individual learning; variety is added to the learning experience; works extremely well for information that may be considered dull or that needs to be reviewed periodically. Bastable goes on to point out that the major disadvantages of gaming as an instructional method includes some learners may interpret the learning environment as competitive and threatening; the size of the group may need to be kept small to ensure all learners participate; more flexible space that can lead to team work may be required; it has the potential to be noisy and special space accommodations may be required; it could be more physically demanding than other methods of instruction; and physical or learning disability may restrict the participation of some learners.
This instructional method works well with both the cognitive and affective domains of learning. In order to evaluate if this method of instruction was successful for the cognitive domain of learning the instructor could administer a post test after the game has been played. To determine if this method was successful for the affective domain of learning, the instructor could be if resistance was met by the students prior to playing the game and when the game is mentioned again that it will be played, the students are excited to play.
As stated in the beginning of this paper, a goal for every instructor should be to be a good instructor. However being a good instructor is simply not enough. It should be the goal of every instructor to create and establish an effective and worthwhile learning environment. Gurney (2007) suggests there are five key factors for effective teaching. The key factors that Gurney suggests to make teaching effective include the teacher having knowledge, enthusiasm, and responsibility for the learning; including classroom activities that encourage learning; having assessment activities that encourage learning through experience; having effective feedback that establishes the learning process in the classroom; and having effective interaction between the teacher and the students, and creating an environment that respects, encourages, and stimulates learning through experience. Mathew (2011) presents a four part model for learning which includes: active engagement, experiential learning, knowledge retention, and knowledge transfer. Though this model is brief, it summarized the teaching learning process perfectly.
It does not appear from this paper that no one instructional method is perfect nor is there one form of instructional method that should be chosen over another. The key thing to remember when choosing an instructional method is to think about the following items: the learners, the amount of time allotted for the teaching session, the amount of space needed for the learning to take place, and if the learning activity will generate noise that could potentially interfere with other classes that are bring taught. Keeping these things in the forefront of the mind of the instructor, the teaching learning process, and what the instructor wants to convey should help each instructor choose the appropriate learning activities to achieve the best outcomes for the learners.
Author: Jason Hawkins RN, BSN, MSN
Copyright 2015 Onlyanurse.com
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