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There are many strategies for facilitating learning both inside and outside of a classroom setting. Determining learning styles, focusing on teamwork, and promoting active learning strategies will help strengthen effective teaching. Some teaching approaches will involve small group work, student presentations, and peer instruction, and others might focus on facilitating learning through activities such as hands-on experiments or in-class projects and films.
Small group work and peer facilitated learning strategies have been found to be incredibly successful in many settings. Students as young as grade school can benefit from this learning method, and it is also increasingly common in university settings, especially for science and engineering problem sets. The peer facilitation setup usually involves groups of four to eight students and one facilitator or mentor for each group. Working in teams, the students can conduct experiments, hold discussions, or solve complex problems sets with the help of the facilitator, who is also sometimes another student.
Facilitators generally focus on guiding the group’s discussion rather than simply lecturing or explaining all of the concepts. Instead of directly answering students’ questions, facilitators will often direct the question back at the group, encouraging others to work out a response. This strategy allows students to take a more active role in their own learning, both by figuring out answers on their own and by explaining those answers to the group. Students in these settings will often be asked to give brief, informal presentations or work one-on-one with other group members to explain difficult concepts. This teaching style often helps to prepare students for the professional world, where peer learning and collaboration happen on a daily basis.
Many individuals also benefit from understanding their own unique learning styles. Those with auditory learning styles might benefit from lectures, while slide presentations might be more effective at facilitating learning for those with visual learning styles. Hands-on teaching strategies have also been found to be effective because they frequently incorporate multiple learning styles as well as group work.
Individual work is also an important component of successfully facilitating learning. Not only will it benefit students in the short-term by providing extra review time for difficult concepts, but it will also help them in future higher education and professional settings when they will be more responsible for their own learning. By reinforcing course concepts multiple times in different ways, teachers will be able to better ensure that their students are learning effectively and building solid study habits for the future.
Personally, I think the most important thing when it comes to facilitating learning is to make your topic as relevant and interesting as possible and to be flexible.
It's not enough to simply talk at people, or even to thrust various media at them. You have to actively engage with them and make a connection.
This is the most difficult part of teaching, because it can't be phoned in. If you expect people to have enthusiasm you have to have it first.
If you have that kind of relationship with your students, if you come across as genuinely interested in both them and the subject at hand, you can teach them in any method you want and they will learn.
Of course, if you are genuinely clued into them you will realize which method they do best with anyway...
@browncoat - That only really works with small groups, and with people who are not too nervous to speak in public.
I agree that it is an ideal that everyone should feel that comfortable and engaged, but if you have a larger group, or learners who might not want to speak up in front of everyone (i.e. most teenagers) you have to start mixing in different teaching methods to make sure everyone gets what they need.
Powerpoint style teaching, with a mix of visual and written and auditory and yes, even hands-on is the best way that I know to really teach a large group.
If you aren't sure whether the people in your group will respond better to visual or auditory teaching methods, hands-on is always your best bet.
And that doesn't always mean having them make something or even achieve a goal together. Just discussing a concept can be enough to help a person learn more easily.
I have participated in a number of small workshops and the ones where everyone was encouraged to talk and give their opinion on a subject were always the most successful.
If you know you could be called on, you will be thinking harder.
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