So all this stuff that I do anyway has theory and stuff behind it all! And all these strategies that I use already have names and definitions! I am not sure why I am surprised! In some ways I am glad it is obvious. I am however surprised by the percentages to learning depending upon the type of teaching. I had not realised that as much as 90% remembered was even possible, but if you teach it you remember it better! I wonder if this deteriorates with time - i.e. is it in the long term memory files? I also wonder if age has a relevance to percentage learnt? Perhaps I can test this theory by revisiting some of the maths I learnt as a grammar school student and at University ... I may have to reread some stuff but I bet I can recall it and the understanding of the maths. So perhaps we are talking long memory files after all. I always loved our A level maths sessions because they were practical and based around things we would understand, like the forces involved in making a bicycle go (mechanics A level lesson).
We looked at effective and ineffective methods from our own experience:

effective application

Practical application in particular to things I understood like riding a bike
Enthusiastic Teachers
Teachers that answered my questions
Creative teaching
Positive, constructive feedback
Proper explanation
Real scenarios/relevance
Experiments
Being given sufficient time to explore a subject and not too much if it was boring!

ineffective application

Repetition i.e. learning by rote, for example times tables; German language
Asking me to do something I felt I couldn't do and not being given something more appropriate or achievable
Role Play - I hate doing something which isn't real, e.g first aid scenarios, but this could be more to do with not knowing it is coming - so perhaps this is expectation. This is an assessment where we were leading people down a river (in flood conditions, so there was enough going on already) and then I was given a first aid scenario out of the blue, which was neither likely or realistic and when I argued that point they changed it! But I had specifically asked whether we would have scenarios and they said we would just deal with what we come across!
Being told an experiment results are wrong, when as I pointed out it was an experiment not a demonstration!!

active teaching = student centred approach

Geoff Petty's website talks about

"Good students may create meaning from passive methods, but weak students do not. Both types of student improve their learning enormously when they are required to use it.".
(Petty, G. (2004) Active Learning [online]. Available from http://www.geoffpetty.com/activelearning.html [23 Oct 2012].)

I think that by using more active student centred approaches you engage with all the students and can more easily identify individual needs as it gives the teacher time to observe. Observation for an active sport like canoeing seems quite obvious after all you are looking for a technically perfected stroke to help develop a skilful application in different environments. I think that this applies to all subject matters though. By watching how a student tackles a problem whether individually or in a team tells you a lot about how they learn, their thought processes, interaction with others and so on. In canoe coaching we have developed models of observation to help new coaches develop their observation skills. Do these exist for teachers of mathematics say?

Student centred approaches also allow students to work at their own pace, and this can have a downside as some will get it quicker than others and there is limited classroom time as well.This means better planning from the teacher is required to effectively use these active methods ... using the right ones which are most appropriate for the activity and time it well, It is always useful to have a number of things ready just in case one doesn't achieve the right outcome. I wonder whether this is why teachers resort to lectures when faced with limited time and knowing they MUST cover the material. A more teacher centred approach. In my recent experience we presented the safety material in a mixture of lecture, demonstration and activity. But the lecture part went on a long time as there is so much to cover. My colleague tried using questioning to engage the students when looking at safety kit, but clearly the students had never thought about why a buoyancy aid has CE markings inside, or why they should be properly fitted. So questioning students experience can fall foul of their ignorance! So what would be a better approach in this case?

We talk about a directive style of coaching and often say that this is used where safety in paramount. For example on a first decent of a rapid you might tell the student how to get down safely by saying, "Keep paddling and take the wave train on the left". By following your command as it were the student is given a positive experience. Afterwards one can look at the rapid in more detail and perhaps discuss other option from the safety of the river bank. In a sense this is making sure that the confidence and safety are satisfied before you can explore a more active approach to learning why that line was best or safest and trying to give understanding to decision making.

So although I think the ACTIVE student centred teaching approach is valuable in creating understanding by discovery or guided discovery if you like, there are times when just giving the answer by a directive approach can stop frustration, improve confidence and a chance to move on to more meaty stuff.

Also this also depends upon the needs of the learner. There are some skilful students who would gladly show off what they know but others equally skilful who would rather not, which may be a sign of low self esteem, which then links in with physcolo
 



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