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Teaching methods come in many forms: lecture, class discussion, small group discussion, and videotapes are among just a few types of teaching methods. A well-rounded class should be exposed to multiple teaching methods, not just one. Different students learn better in different ways – there are visual learners, tactile learners, and auditory learners. Also, different subjects and topics are often more understandable when taught in different ways. Here are the strengths and limitations of some of the most common teaching methods:
Teaching Method #1 – Lecture
Lecture is, perhaps, the most common form of teaching method. Both auditory learners and visual learners can benefit from a lecture – auditory learners natural do best when they have something to listen to, and visual learners can watch gestures and facial expression and take good notes. Tactile learners, on the other hand, may become bored and disinterested. They need something a bit more involving.
Positive aspects of lectures is that they are very useful when teaching large groups and they present factual material in a logical way. Problems are that the audience is passive and the road of communication is only one way. It is hard to tell how much the students are learning, as well.
Teaching Method #2– Class Discussion
A class discussion is an excellent teaching method – the road to communication is a two-way street, and teachers can really gauge how much their students are learning. A class discussion is a great way to end a lecture – then you get the best of both worlds. And students are more likely to retain the information given in the lecture if they have to use it immediately.
Class discussions are a very positive form of teaching methods because you can get ideas from the entire groups – 20 brains are better than one. Also, a class discussion can analyze the lecture or even a film or whatever. Everyone can participate in a class discussion.
The problem with a class discussion as a teaching method is that not everyone will participate – some students may feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts in such a large group. Also, the discussion can get way off track. Also, a class discussion takes much more time than a lecture, and therefore although the students may be retaining more information, they may be learning less all together. Also, a class discussion is very difficult with more than 20 people. Another small problem is that with class discussion, students may get confused as to which information is true that is presented and which may be false.
Teaching Method #3– Small Group Discussion
A small group discussion can be a better teaching method than a class discussion, especially in larger classes. Everyone gets a chance to participate if they are put into a smaller group – a smaller group is less intimidating. Also, it is more likely that a small group can reach a consensus.
Of course, just as with class discussions, small group discussions can get side-tracked, and it can be harder for a teacher to gauge whether the group is actually talking about the subject at hand or last night’s episode of whatever.
Teaching Method #4 – Videotapes
Videotapes can show a lot more important visual stimuli than just a teacher with a chalkboard. When talking about a certain animal or a culture, etc., students may understand it better if they can actually see it. Also, videotapes can be very interesting for students – they can grab the attention of students. Videotapes can also stimulate discussion.
Of course, as with other teaching methods, there are also problems with videotapes. Videotapes can raise too many issues. It can be hard to find a video that focuses on the exact subject that you want to present. You have to worry about finding all of the equipment and making sure that it works – if you have trouble with the equipment, valuable time is lost. Also, some students view videotapes as a chance to slack off – they may not feel that they have to learn anything from a video, nor will they likely take notes.
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