Strategies For Effective Teaching and Learning

Liliya MakovskayaLiliya Makovskaya, ELT Teacher, EAP Module Leader at WIUT shares her ideas.


 

Most teachers assume that teaching usually results in learning. However, it does not happen all the time and, therefore, teachers try to search for possible reasons. Some educators blame themselves for not being able to involve students in the learning process, whereas others believe that learners do not consider good performance important. Much can be written in the hope of trying to justify views of both sides, but there are still several possibilities to help students achieve better results in their studies. Hence, this paper focuses on four strategies for effective teaching and learning process and suggests how these can be implemented.

The first strategy tells that every learning process should begin with the explanation of the course objectives and learning outcomes. It is believed that students can find and read this information as well as understand without any difficulties. However, Yorke (2003, p.480) claims that ‘statements of expected standards, curriculum objectives or learning outcomes are generally insufficient to convey the richness of meaning that is wrapped up in them’ (cited in Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2006, p.205).Moreover, these documents are usually written by teachers for different purposes and, therefore, the language might be unclear to learners, who are not accustomed to reading such kind of texts. Another important aspect at this stage of the teaching and learning process is providing students with the assessment criteria. It is true to state that students and teachers understand these standards differently, thus learners might view good performance in their own way. That is why, Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) assert that ‘there is a need for strategies that complement written material and simple verbal explanations’ (p.205). Specifically, the authors recommend teachers to organize discussions about the criteria and give students samples of good performance. These activities help learners understand the importance of the assessment criteria and give them an opportunity to see what results might be expected by the tutors.

The next strategy deals with the task of every teacher to engage students in the teaching and learning process. Krause (2005) defines engagement as ‘the time, energy and resources students devote to activities designed to enhance learning at university’. The author also clarifies that ‘these activities typically range from a simple measure of time spent on campus or studying, to in- and out-of-class learning experiences that connect students to their peers in educationally purposeful and meaningful ways’ (Krause, 2005). The first step is thus to create the environment that encourages learners’ involvement. The number of hours devoted to studying certain topics and the number of classes per week should be thoroughly thought over prior to the actual teaching. The second important aspect is the assessment tasks students need to accomplish. Taylor (2006) argues that ‘the central location of assessment within students’ perceptions of learning and studying means that it could be a powerful tool to engage students and address self-regulatory skills such as time management’. It is therefore significant for educators to consider the assessment process, i.e. they should design the task in the way that it not only tests students’ knowledge and skills but also supports their learning.
Feedback, the third strategy, becomes an integral part of this process. Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) believe that good feedback practice ‘provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance’ (p.210). The researchers suggest dividing the process into two stages, so that the comments provided on the first stage could be useful for the second one and thus helping students improve their performance. Another suggestion is to giving learners an opportunity to re-draft their work and therefore involve them in the “work-in-progress”. Hyland and Hyland (2006, p. 83), focusing on feedback on students’ writing, support the view and assert that feedback in the process-based learning ‘is seen as an important developmental tool moving learners through multiple drafts towards the capability for effective self-expression’. The authors recommend written comments as well as organizing face-to-face and peer discussions. Computer-based feedback might also be used. Besides, teachers should pay special attention to the language and kinds of comments they provide. Ferris and Hedgcock (2005) claim that ‘text-specific commentary is most likely to encourage revision’ (cited in Hyland and Hyland, 2006, p.88). In addition, Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) advise teachers to give corrective rather than judgmental feedback. They also suggest limiting the number of comments, so that students can make good use of them. As all the types of feedback have their own advantages and disadvantages, it is teachers who should decide which comments their students benefit most from.
Another important strategy for the teachers is to observe their students’ involvement in the learning process. Educators may keep a diary, as their notes can be helpful for identify the areas for improvement in their teaching. Teachers’ observations might be not only discussed with their colleagues but also become part of the action research to be conducted. Moreover, Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) suggest asking learners for feedback on the tasks and difficulties they encounter in the process. The researchers assert that frequent diagnostic tests should be performed because they ‘can help teachers generate cumulative information about students’ levels of understanding and skill so that they can adapt their teaching accordingly’ (p.211). Besides, it is necessary to ask students to identify topics they want to explore and areas they want to improve.
In conclusion, to make teaching result in learning, educators should consider several strategies suggested. An adequate explanation of the standards and assessment criteria should be provided. Teachers should thoroughly consider the number of contact hours. It is also important to identify the type and way feedback is given to learners. Classroom observation and students’ comments on the subject might be useful as well. Trying to implement at least some of these strategies, teachers might see better performance of their students.

Reference list
Hyland, K. and Hyland, F., (2006). Feedback on second language students’ writing. Language Teaching.
Krause, K., (2005). Engaged, inert or otherwise occupied? : Deconstructing the 21st century undergraduate student. At James Cook University Symposium 2005 in Sharing Scholarship in Learning and Teaching: Engaging Students. James Cook University, Townsville/Cairns, Queensland, 21-22 September 2005.
Nicol, D. J. and Macfarlane-Dick, D., (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education.31
Taylor, J. A., (2006). Assessment: a tool for development and engagement in the first year of university study. In Proceedings of Engaging Students: 9th Pacific Rim in Higher Education (FYHE) Conference, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Qld., 12-14 July 2006.

 

Taken from ALT FL №1 2015


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