Thursday, May 29, 2014

Accommodating different learning styles in (traditional) lectures

Now that I finished my first semester of teaching, I've been breaking my head on one question that keeps coming back to my mind, and that's the following:

I realize there are as many learning styles as there are students in a lecture room. How can we accommodate this, and how can a traditional-style lecture cater to different learning styles?

As I recently read an article about reasons why traditional lectures are awful, I was even more wondering what we can do to make use of our classroom time in an effective way for students - and that only boils down to the question: how can we make sure students actually learn something in the classroom, regardless of all the different learning styles out there.

An answer I can't provide. I never learned much in a lecture room myself, and if I don't take the book of abstracts and/or proceedings to conference lectures, my attention might drift off as well. My learning style is simple: sit in quiet with a book and work through the information myself. I skipped many lectures in university because I preferred to study by myself.

Now that I am teaching, I am trying to find ways to increase the return on investment for students in my classes - but I haven't got much farther than using the occasional video and showing calculation examples.

Probably I should follow this post up with a Twitter chat with some more experienced lecturers.
If you have any suggestions, do let me know!

5 comments:

  1. Dear Eva,

    I have students download the slides and additional handouts for the lecture beforehand. The last slide always consists of possible exam questions based on the lecture. So during the lecture, they know what to listen for. I also have "question breaks" at the end of one point before moving on to the next. The exam questions are the item I get the most positive feedback on. Good luck!

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    1. Interesting! I was assigning reading from the book, but nobody ever read anything before class... Maybe slides are easier to glance through

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    2. We usually provide slides as the primary notes, with extra readings to supplement (at least at undergraduate level) the textbook. That way the student can build up their slides as their lecturer speaks, or as they read through the recommended and prescribed readings.Might not work for all subjects I imagine.

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  2. Hi Eva

    Here are a couple things I have tried which students have let me know they enjoyed:

    -Prior to class and note making, vet youtube videos (or browse through the Khan Academy Series) and provide those www. links in your slides so that students can, in their own time, go and watch/listen to videos/podcasts which relate to your content of the day.

    -Setting short content quizzes is another way to break up monotony.

    -For theory sections which have distinct chunks - give the slides/full notes out and then divide into groups. If class size rather large then have a few groups assigned to each topic. After 5/10 minutes where they practice teaching their assigned slide you call the groups members/groups up and then get them to pick a straw - short straw has to do the presentation.

    -I attended a class by years ago by visiting professors who focused on teaching large undergraduate classes, and one of their points was to not get tied to the podium. When you set questions/discussion points walk 'into' the class to try and further encourage engagement with the choice.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing what else is suggested here.

    Good luck :)

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    1. Thanks! Lots of great ideas in here!

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