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Determining Instructional Methods

There are many instructional methods which may be used in the classroom. Each has certain advantages and disadvantages. Some are better suited for certain kinds of instruction than others. Different methods require greater or lesser participation by students. One method, or perhaps a combination of methods, is usually most appropriate for most subject matter and objectives. Based on your subject matter, you will need to determine what instructional method(s) will showcase the information you will be teaching. The paragraphs below discuss the most commonly used methods.

Lecture Method. The lecture method has a place for many units of instruction. It is instructor centered training in that the instructor is the sole disseminator of information. The Instructor presents information to the student systematically in this method. The best approach is when the instructor presents a segment of instruction, questions the students frequently, and provides periodic summaries or logical points of development.

Advantages. The primary advantage or value of the lecture method is its flexibility. Students are encouraged to ask questions about points which are not clear, and the instructor is free to take the necessary time to answer these questions (keeping in mind the amount of material to be covered during the unit). Information that seems less clear can receive more attention and explanation from the instructor. This method also permits more material to be covered in a shorter time.

Limitations. There are two major limitations of this method. Only limited discussion is possible because of larger classes and greater amounts of material to be covered. This method does not lend itself to controversial materials.

Demonstration Method. The Demonstration method is one in which the student observes the portrayal of a procedure, technique, or operation. The demonstration method shows how to do something or how something works. It may or may not introduce new methods.

Advantages. It sets standards by showing exactly how a thing is to be done and the degree of proficiency required to meet objectives. The demonstration appeals both to the sense of sight and hearing. This reinforces the subject matter and dramatizes realistically the teaching points. The method saves time since principles, theories, and operation can usually be shown more quickly than they can be explained.

Limitations. Since students do not actively participate in all demonstrations, there is less reinforcement of teaching points if this method is used alone. Thus, this method should be followed with a practical exercise in which the students do participate.

Practical Exercise. A practical exercise (PE) may take many forms. Basically, it is a method of training in which the student actively participates, either individually or as a team member. He does this by applying previously learned knowledge’s or skills. All students actively participate although they may work at their own rate. Students may or may not be required to follow a set sequence. The various forms of the PE are explained in detail below:

Controlled PE. The controlled PE is a form of PE where the student is guided, step-by-step through a procedure, technique or operation. It is characterized by two things: (1) Students participate as a class, (2) they are guided through a set sequence, and students generally complete each step and are checked by the instructor prior to continuing to the next step. A mistake is corrected before the student is allowed to proceed to the next step.

Advantages. The instructor retains firm control and is able to better judge individual student progress. This method ensures a more standardized presentation of subject matter than in some other methods.

Limitations. The primary limitation of this method is that it is very time-consuming. The instructor must check each step for each member of the class before the student can continue. This restricts the amount of information that can be taught during a fixed amount of time. Students may be less motivated in this form of the PE. The slower student may become frustrated if the pace if too fast. The fast learner gets frustrated if the pace is too slow.

Practice Method. Students (alone or as part of a team) repeatedly perform previously learned actions, sequences, operations, or procedures. This method may take several forms: team, coach and pupil, or independent practice.

Case Study Or Team Practice. The student performs as a member of a group to solve a text book problem with a team solution or practice completing a sequenced task.

Coach And Pupil. In this method, the student performs individually while being observed by the “coach”. The coach’s responsibility is to ensure that the student performs the action or process correctly. When the student then completes task, he assumes the role of the “coach” and the coach becomes the pupil.

Independent. The student applies the skills or knowledge in either an actual or training situation. He practices by himself although he may ask for instructor advice if necessary.

Source: U.S. Navy

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