I read this post by Maryellen with great interests –
Great Expectations: Helping Students Take Responsibility for Learning
What are the points that I would like to make?
But I also read a wonderful article this week written by a professor who teaches large physiology classes using a highly interactive method. She only lectures a bit, here and there. The rest of the 90-minute class sessions students are talking and working on problems. Her method works because she expects students to have read and learned the basics before they come to class.
Here, I assume that the professor is expecting her class students to have read and learned the basis before they came to the class. This is a good idea, and good practice in teaching, if the students all agreed with the teachers’ proposition or advice.
However, to what extent would such students read and learn before the class? There are huge assumptions here, as I have highlighted in my suggested Assumption Theory – that students would take such responsibility and the teacher could teach using a highly interactive method, and that students would learn more effectively using such methods. I suppose this depends on the “complexity” of the topics content, and the background experience and skills of students: whether the students could understand the content and master their learning by themselves or not using the said teaching process.
“She only lectures a bit, here and there.” That sounds quite an interesting good start. Does it mean that lecturing less is good? May be, again this depends on what is “lectured”, and whether the little bit of lecturing help the students in their learning.
“Based on my teaching experience, I think that given well-written objectives and access to good resources, most students can teach themselves the basics … I decided that it was a waste of my time to stand up in lecture and say, ‘the functions of the cardiovascular system are …’ and wait while students wrote my list down.” (p. 137)
Well said, and I agreed.
I think this post provides us with lots of “food” for thoughts.
My view is: There are many assumptions made by the professor here, but it is important not to stereotype and generalize the teaching and learning methodologies, in one size suits all. I would argue that an educator is responsible for helping and supporting the learners in the learning process, but educators need to be aware of the assumptions they have made in the teaching process.
As a teacher, I have to reflect on what it means when planning, delivering and evaluating a lecture or lesson. I would need to consider the learners’ needs when structuring the session. If the teaching (and learning) is not based on what the learners want, what would happen? The learners would struggle with the teaching process!
Here is part of my suggested Assumption Theory:
In this Theory, we are making assumptions about learning from different perspectives. From an educator’s perspective, we have made assumptions about the needs and readiness of learners, and assumed that there are best teaching and learning strategies for particular learners under particular learning context. Experiments and research have been conducted to validate the findings. From a learner’s perspective, the learners have assumed that they would be able to achieve the learning goals based on certain learning strategies, that suit their particular learning styles, and under certain learning context or ecology.
Are the professors’ expectations of students reading the materials before class “realistic”?
Why do the students read/not read before the class?
What motivates learners to read before class?
Are the topics relating to the students’ interests?
What are the backgrounds of the students?
What are the expectations of students?
What do we mean by spoon feeding in a lecture? Is 100% teacher talk spoon feeding? How to “avoid” too much spoon feeding?
How interactive should a class (lecture) be?
Would some of these questions be equally applicable to online teaching and learning?
Here is my previous post on learning theories and learner taxonomy.