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Lesson 7: Selecting Learning Activities and Delivery Strategies

  1. Learning activities include homework, exams, projects, in-class activities, etc. They can be done in-class or outside of class. A delivery strategy is a method of delivering the content (usually in-class) such as small group learning, demonstration, discussion, etc.
  2. Keep in mind that frequent encounters with the content improves mastery. Therefore, use a variety of learning activities to ensure mastery of the student learning outcomes.
  3. When considering methodologies/strategies, retention of the content should be a primary consideration. The table below illustrates the average retention rates after 24 hours for typical delivery strategies. (Sousa 43)
    Instructional Method Avg. Retention Rate After 24 hrs
    Lecture 5%
    Reading 10%
    Audio-Visual 20%
    Demonstration 30%
    Discussion 50%
    Practice by Doing 75%
    Teaching others & immediate use of learning 90%
  4. When planning graded assignments, consider your time and commitments. If you give fewer assignments, then give more complete feedback.
  5. Start with small activities and work up to more complex activities. In other words, empower versus overpower your students.
  6. Instead of thinking about what you want to teach, think about what you want the learner to do to achieve the outcomes.
  7. To meet the needs of different learning preferences, select more than one activity per class session.
  8. Ask yourself the following questions when designing classroom activities:
    • Can the students achieve this outcome by doing versus listening?
    • Are there any props that can be used to help the students learn?
    • Are there any stories from the students lives or my own that can be applied to the content and make the outcomes clearer?
    • Can the content be taught in another environment or by using a different classroom design? (I.e., with the chairs arranged in a horseshoe versus in rows, or outdoors versus indoors?)
  9. Examples of different learning activities include:
    • Small group activities
    • Field trips
    • Case studies
    • Role playing
    • Debates
    • In-class writing activities
    • Video clips, videotapes, or audio tapes
    • Computer simulations
  10. When designing a lesson plan and considering learning activities for a given topic, ask yourself the following questions:
    • How will I prepare the students to learn the topic? (E.g., pretest, preview topic, needs assessment, etc.)
    • How will I present new concepts? (E.g., homework, lecture, demonstrations, modeling etc.)
    • How will the students apply what is learned? (E.g., discussions, in-class writing activities, small group learning, etc.)
    • How will I assess whether or not the outcomes have been learned? (E.g., One-Minute papers, tests, demonstrations, problem-solving, etc.)
  11. The purpose of a lecture is to clarify information to a large group in a short period of time. When considering whether or not lecture, consider the following questions:
    • How much preparation and class time is available?
    • Can I develop interest in the lecture?
    • Would a handout work equally as well?
    • Would a text assignment work better? (If the texbook says it well, why repeat it?)
    • Can the content be easily divided into fifteen to twenty minute segments?
    • Would a videotape or some other form of media work as well?
    • Do I summarize regularly during the lecture?
    • Do I ask questions throughout the lecture?
    • How do I know my lectures are effective? (I.e., have you been videotaped or observed while lecturing? Do you obtain feedback from your students throughout the semester regarding which strategies and delivery styles work and which ones do not in terms of their learning?)
  12. The purpose of the demonstration is to transmit the big picture to a relatively small group in a short period of time. Demonstrations can be effective in teaching skills and tend to be more teaching-centered versus learning-centered. Variations of demonstrations include projects, peer tutoring, research papers, field trips, on-the-job training, simulated experiences and videotapes. When considering whether or not to use demonstration as a delivery strategy, consider the following questions:
    • Does the learner need to see the process?
    • How much preparation time do I have available?
    • Can I tell and show the content?
    • Is there only one right way?
    • Would a videotape work just as well?
    • Will there be practice time for the students?
    • Can the steps be easily identified and imitated?
    • How do I know my demonstrations are effective? (Have you ever listened to or watched one of your demonstrations?)
  13. The purpose of discussion is to solicit and involve the student while transmitting the content. Discussions are most effective with smaller groups and are particularly useful in an affective area to promote understanding and clarification of ideas, concepts, and feelings. Variations of the discussion method include role playing, debates, panel discussions, reviews, brainstorming, buzz groups, show and tell, workshops, conferences and interviews. When considering the use of discussion, ask yourself the following questions?
    • Do I need more active involvement from the students?
    • Is divergent thinking a desirable end?
    • Can there be more than one answer?
    • Is there time to clarify differences?
    • How much control do I need?
    • Can interest be aroused and maintained?
    • Can I accept the students' views?
    • Is there time to make conclusions and/or follow-up?
    • Am I able to keep certain students from dominating the discussion?
    • Am I able to keep the students on topic?
    • How do I know my discussions are effective?
  14. When considering teaching methods and/or delivery methods consider asking yourself the following:
    • What teaching methods am I familiar with? Comfortable with?
    • What other methods might I be willing to try?
    • What methods fit with my teaching philosophy? (Do my methods of teaching and my teaching philosophy match?)
    • How do I believe learning happens and what methods will I use to support what I believe?
    • What learning activities seem appropriate given the assessment and evaluation methods I plan to use?
    • What methods will help students learn particularly difficult concepts?
    • How will I know my teaching methods and delivery strategies are effective?

Lessons: Index, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, References

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