Center for Learning and Development
Course Design – Teaching Strategies
Figure 1. Passive and Active Learning
Adapted from Fink, D. A Self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. 2003
Dee Fink distinguished between passive and active learning. Passive learning involves students receiving information and ideas. In comparison, active learning engages students by providing rich learning experiences (doing, observing) and in-depth reflective dialog (with self and others). As instructor, we should make effort to design our class activities to provide such affordances that enable active learning.
For more information about active learning, please refer to the following resources:
- Brief information on active learning by Dee Fink
- Fink, D. A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning
- Engaging learners – implementation plan:
if you plan to implement one or two strategies to engage students in your classes, this planning sheet can be a starting point.
- Graffam, B. (2007). Active learning in medical education:
Strategies for beginning implementation. Medical Teacher, 29, 38-42.
(Google Scholar link to the article)
- Saroyan, A. & Snell, L. S. (1997). Variations in lecturing styles. Higher Education, 33, 85-104. (Google Scholar link to the article).
Engaging students in lectures
Nine Events of InstructionHow do you plan for a class? How do you arrange all the activities in a class? One way to plan your class session is by following the Nine Events of Education advanced by educational psychologist Robert Gagne. Figure 2 is an illustration of the nine events of instruction:
Figure 2. Nine Events of Instruction by Robert Gagne
For an explanation of the Nine Events of Instruction, please visit the following resources:
- Theory into Practice website: Conditions of learning http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/conditions-learning.html
- Gagne’s 9 events of instruction, by University of Florida Center for Instructional Technology & Training (be sure to click the different tabs at the top) http://www.citt.ufl.edu/toolbox/toolbox_gagne9Events.php
Bookend procedure Research has consistently shown that lecturing in the entire class period is not an effective way of teaching. Our working memory is limited; usually after hearing 10-15 minutes of lecture, our mind drifts away. To keep students engaged, one approach is to adopt what is called the bookend procedure.
Figure 3. Bookend Procedure (adapted from Carl Smith, 2000, Going deeper: Formal small-group learning in large classes, New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 81)
Questioning & discussion
- Answering and asking questions, by William Cashin from the Kansas State University http://www.theideacenter.org/sites/default/files/Idea_Paper_31.pdf
- Improving discussions, by William Cashin & Philip McKnight from the Kansas State University http://www.theideacenter.org/sites/default/files/Idea_Paper_15.pdf
- The dreaded discussion: 10 ways to start, by Peter Frederick from the Indiana University http://www.indiana.edu/~tchsotl/part%201/part1%20materials/The_Dreaded_Discussion.pdf
- Facilitating group discussions, by Dr. Melissa Medina from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center: http://www.ouhsc.edu/portals/1044/Assets/Documents/Presentation%20Resources/2003-2004/July%202003%20EGR%20Overview.pdf
Designing effective PowerPoint presentation
- CLD offers workshop on this topic.
- Five ways to reduce PowerPoint overload: based on research on multimedia learning and cognitive load
- UNTHSC PowerPoint template
Alternatives to lectures
In addition to lecturing, there are some alternative ways of teaching, for example, case studies, problem-based learning, collaboratively learning,
Case & Problem-based Learning
- Teaching with Case Studies (Stanford University, 1994)
- National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (University of Buffalo)
- Team-based learning (University of Central Missouri) http://faculty.ucmo.edu/teambasedlearning/index.htm
- Collaborative learning: Group work and study teams (University of California, Berkeley): http://teaching.berkeley.edu/bgd/collaborative.html
- Collaborative learning (Brigham Young University):