Teaching Strategies

The fundamental importance of teaching strategies is to make it easier to implement a variety of teaching methods and techniques. Here you will find a variety of teaching strategies to help students take more responsibility for their own learning and enhance the process of teaching for learning. The key is to create learning environments that are more interactive, to integrate technology where applicable into the learning experience, and to use collaborative learning strategies when appropriate.

Lecture The lecture method can be very effective when used in conjunction with active learning and teaching strategies. The traditional lecture has many advantages, particularly in the large classroom, and can be effective in meeting instructional goals. Advances in technology, and the increasing ease of application can turn the lecture into a methodology which touches on learning diverse modalities and increases content relevancy.

Active Learning Myers and Jones (1993) define active learning as learning environments that allow students to talk and listen, read, write, and reflect as they approach course content through problem-solving exercises, informal small groups, simulations, case studies, roleplaying, and other activities. These require students to apply what they are learning, and touches on the highest levels of learning taxonomy. Since fall semester 2001 Harris and Johnson have provided faculty development workshops at Montana State University entitled "Developing a Mentorship Program for Non-traditional Teaching and Learning Techniques." This paper is a succinct summary of their work.

Critical Thinking Lipman (1988) defines critical thinking as skillful, responsible thinking that facilitates good judgement because it relies upon criteria, is self-correcting, and is sensitive to context. A list of applicable skills includes focusing, information gathering, referencing, organizing, analyzing, integrating, and evaluation.

Discussion There are a variety of ways to stimulate discussion. A large part of the process is the creation of a non-threatening, interactive learning environment that allows for the free exchange of ideas. An important element is the use of inquiry questioning to stimulate discussion and bring the forum to the highest levels. Discussion is central to active student learning in many courses. Nevertheless, facilitating a good discussion remains a challenge, even for experienced faculty.

Cooperative Learning Cooperative learning is a systematic pedagogical strategy that encourages small groups of students to work together for the achievement of a common goal. This learning strategy stresses the importance of faculty and student involvement in the learning process.

Writing The basic principle underlying these initiatives is that writing is more than a technical skill to be acquired in a first-year comp course but is, in fact, a mode of learning that can enhance students' understanding of the content of the disciplines. This strategy includes writing across the curriculum, critical thinking, technology and computers, notetaking, and personal expression. There are a variety of goals for incorporating writing within a course. The conventional goal is to demonstrate learning where clarity is the primary requirement. There is also writing for learning, fostering involvement in course material and promoting learning.

Service Learning Although definitions of service learning abound, the informed movement toward an expansion of service learning on the MSU-Bozeman campus is based on the following: “Students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that is conducted in and meets the needs of the community.It is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum and includes structured time for the students and participants to reflect on the service experience.” (Corporation for National Service, 1994, 12)

Mid-Course Assessment There are a number of methods of performing mid-course assessments for the purpose of improvement. These range from very informal to highly formal. This paper presents a method, Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID), that lies somewhere between the extremes. It is relatively easy to do perform and has been found useful by many MSU faculty. Jeff Adams (x7835) maintains a list of faculty who have expressed a willingness to participate.