How do I teach thee? Let me count the ways.

 

As the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life” and might I add, variety is the spark of learning and the essence of effective teaching.

 In my thinking critically and creatively classes, I implement at least 12 different methods of facilitating a class. At the end of the course, I have the students rank order their perceived effectiveness of each of the methods. I have included, for your review, the results of three classes of students,  and their ranking of the effectiveness of the 12 methods.

 

Thinking critically and creatively class (accelerated) 24 responses. Thursday, 5:30 pm, fall, 2013.

  1. 8 – 95 points – small groups
  2. 7 – 93 points – 20 to 30 minute shifts
  3. 4 – 89 points – creativity project presentation
  4. 3 – 86 points – dvds
  5. 1 – 82 points – in class exercises
  6. 0 – 80 points – SEA
  7. 0 – 80 points – brain teasers
  8. 9 – 79 points – weekly e-mails
  9. 7 – 77 points – text
  10. 6 – 76 points – comprehensive
  11. 5- 75 points – presentation of topic, issue, or person
  12. 4- 74 points – assignments outside of class

 

Thinking critically and creatively class; 11:30 am, Friday, fall 2013. – 24 responses

  1. 8 – 96 points – creativity project presentation
  2. 6 – 93 points – dvds and e-mails – tied
  3. 5 – 92 points – brain teasers
  4. 4 – 91 points – exercises in class
  5. 3 – 89 points – comprehensive final
  6. 1 – 86 points – presentations of issue, ideas, or person
  7. 0 – 80 points – 20 to 30 minute shifts and groups – tied
  8. 9 – 79 points – assignments outside of class
  9. 6 – 73 points – text book
  10. 4 69 points – SEA

 

Thinking critically and creatively class (accelerated) 24 responses. Thursday, 5:30 pm, fall, 2013.

  1. 8 – 95 points – small groups
  2. 7 – 93 points – 20 to 30 minute shifts
  3. 4 – 89 points – creativity project presentation
  4. 3 – 86 points – dvds
  5. 1 – 82 points – in class exercises
  6. 0 – 80 points – SEA
  7. 0 – 80 points – brain teasers
  8. 9 – 79 points – weekly e-mails
  9. 7 – 77 points – text
  10. 6 – 76 points – comprehensive final review
  11. 5- 75 points – presentation of topic, issue, or person
  12. 4- 74 points – assignments outside of class

 

Although not exhaustive, here is a summary of the comments/suggestions made by students for each of the 12 methods: As you might suspect, the least effective methods (textbook, assignments, and self-evaluative assessments) have to do with not encouraging interactive learning; while the higher rankings have to do with methods which more actively engage the learner ( 20-30 minute shifts, brain teasers, and group work).

 

The following are student comments for each of the 12 methods:

  1. 20 – 30 minute shifts: good way to keep students engaged and focused; kept me awake; not used to this format-used to long and tedious lectures; we would just get into something and then we moved on; definitely avoided boredom from setting in; my mind stayed active; our attention span is short, and this addressed our individual differences to a degree; I love the shifts since I was recently diagnosed with ADD and it really helps me; splitting the activity or lecture mid-thought could throw off sometimes; easy to stay interested; sometimes you ramble, but never for long so it becomes distracting; confusing for me; I really think that working in 20-30 minute segments helped me keep my interest; a great style of teaching

 

  1. Have students complete exercises individually before they share their responses as a group; some were busy work or pointless; Liked the in-class exercises which meant less outside assignments – helpful because of personal time constraints; sometimes not clear; enjoyable and not boring like most classes; made you reflect on yourself and how to improve oneself; some were difficult to understand; Exercises keep students engaged, focused, and interacting; exercises were fun, but sometimes boring

 

  1. The e-mails provided a sense of review, continuity, reference, and if you were absent, you were able to complete the exercises completed in that class; make the e-mails less wordy, detailed, and more reader friendly in terms of the format; too long; I wish more teachers would do this; they were clear and easy to follow, especially if you missed a class; it helped me get caught up; not everybody checks the e-mail; didn’t like the amount of material on them; forgot to check mine; like the overview and summary of the class; I like the way you sent the information by e-mail – a good reminder and review of what we discussed in class; helped with my assignments
  2. Brain teasers are a favorite of the entire class; an engaging, fun, and a great warm-up to relax the class and to get the brain in gear; fun way to warm up and relax; makes the class a casual environment; they helped me get ready for class; these were my favorite, a good way to begin the class; exciting and difficult; they were fun; got the brain working right from the start of class

 

  1. SEA=self-evaluation assessment – good way to keep oneself in check; don’t give them every week, maybe four times throughout the semester; there can be a tendency to not be honest in one’s responses; too repetitious; thought it helped you see how you were doing academically and to be truthful; if you are truthful, it may affect your grade; it allows you to assess yourself and to be honest with your responses

 

  1. DVDs/Internet – inspiring, informative, thought-provoking; good alternative way to teach; some were unusual, but interesting; shorter films are great while longer films tend to dominate; they were always interesting; inspiring; education; added to the variety; too outdated

 

  1. Text – from a very easy read and taught me a lot to it was boring, an unnecessary expense and not necessary for the course; felt that the book for this class is key; enjoyed reviewing the thoughts of each chapter; I am not a big book person; mostly pointless; weird; easy to read and understand; liked taking the final this way – learned and interacted with others in my group; chose to do the final individually to get a better understanding of my individual learning

 

  1. Groups- it was great working with others; we were able to better problem solve because of more than one person’s input instead of only listening to lectures in class; was in a great group-worked well together; I work better in groups

 

  1. Creativity projects – good to present before others; added a personal dimension to the class; most of them were about hobbies and crafts- is that creativity? Allow us to open up more; I liked learning about others; gives me the freedom to express my individuality; another fun, open project

 10. Submission of an essay on a person, idea, or issue – informative; interesting to see what or who people picked for their presentation; liked the variety; some were better prepared than others; do not encourage the use of Wikipedia articles

 

 11. Comprehensive final review – this is my first final I will be able to take as a group, it should be interesting; informed of what to expect on the final very well; way too long; great way to take the final; I enjoyed taking the final in groups – it helped a lot and was fun; too long

 

12.  Assignments outside of the class: not fond of them; if given too many, too often, there is a tendency not to complete them because of a busy schedule; liked the self-examination which brought the TCC learning attitude home with me; they were reasonable and not too long; I hate homework, but this was reasonable; made one think more in detail about the assignment

 

 13. Unsolicited comments about the Instructor – I really enjoyed this class as a whole; you teach it very well; I enjoyed your style of teaching- made it easier to learn; this class had a good flow, and a brilliant collection of teaching strategies;

 

Roger J. Vanden Busch, August 29, 2014

One thought on “How do I teach thee? Let me count the ways.

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