Effective teaching is a process by
which the learning of an individual or a group is managed or facilitated. Five
elements are involved, but these are not necessarily steps in a sequence.
1. Learning objectives. Before attempting to teach,
it is important to know what is to be taught. Asking "What should the
participants be able to do by the end of the session?" determines the learning
objectives. Learning objectives are stated in performance terms. To "know,"
"understand," "appreciate," or "value" are slippery words that have no part in
good learning objectives. Learning objectives should clearly state what the
individual will be able to do as a result of the learning experience.
In a structured teaching situation, it is wise to write down the
learning objectives as guidelines to the instructor. The objectives usually
will determine the content of the instruction. In casual situations or
"opportunity teaching," the objectives might not be written but should be
clearly in the mind of the instructor.
A discovery is any sort of happening that has three results.
is confirmed. People discover what they do know. Until then they might not
have been sure. The need to know is established. People discover that they do
not know something they must know if they are to be successful in what they
want to do. Motivation is instilled. Participants discover the desire to learn
Sometimes a discovery just happens. An alert leader can turn
this happening into a learning experience. This is referred to as "opportunity
teaching." In more structured teaching, an instructor often will set up a
discovery as the introduction to a learning activity. A discovery can be
simply a leading question, or more complicated as in dramatic role-playing.
3. Teaching-learning. Once the discovery has shown
what the person already knows. the instructor has choices to make.
person knows and can do what is desired. The learning objectives have been
met. Subtract what the person knows from what is desired and work on what the
person needs to know. Give the full instruction session. The participant will
learn what he or she needs to know and will review what is already known.
Teaching involves a variety of communication techniques. We learn
principally from hearing (lecture, discussion, conversation, dramatization),
seeing (reading, displays, visual aids, demonstrations), and doing (trial and
error, experimenting, copying the acts of others). As each task, skill, or
idea is broken down into simple steps, the learner can confirm what he or she
now knows, needs to know, and wants to know. Thus, learning is actually a
series of discoveries. Each step should lead to some success--it is important
to keep the person encouraged that progress is being made.
Application. Each individual should have an immediate chance
to apply what has been learned. Application must be deferred in some
situations, but immediate application is more desirable.
to apply what has been learned. another discovery likely will occur, which
leads to new learning objectives, more teaching and learning, and further
5. Evaluation. Essentially, evaluation
is a review of what happened to see if the learning objectives were met. In a
teaching situation, we are always checking to see. "Did it work? Do 1
understand? What do I do next?' In effect, the evaluation itself often becomes
Recycling. If evaluation shows
that the person has not learned what was to be taught, there is a need to
recycle-teach it again. The approach may be changed, the steps simplified, or
the explanation more detailed, or the learning objectives might need to be
Research has shown that learning is most effective when it is
self-directed. The more deeply a person can be involved in his or her own
learning, the more that individual will learn and the longer he or she will
retain what has been learned. Teach from the point of view of the student--not
the teacher. Be sure that personal objectives are met before dealing with
organizational objectives. Move from what is known to what is unknown. from
what is simple to what is more complex.
It is important to note that
the five elements of effective teaching are not necessarily a series of
steps,each to be completed before the next is attempted. Rather, these
elements are a mix of factors that can be used to plan a learning experience
or evaluate its worth. The five elements are not a lockstep process through
which one marches in a training experience. Training must flow and stay
flexible to meet the needs of participants.