How Am I Doing?

By Kathy Maxwell posted 11-20-2014 16:52

  
How did your class go? Ever have someone ask you that? It's a meaningful question whether you were in the class as the instructor, or as a student. Sometimes it is hard to answer from an instructor viewpoint. If the class was short in length like a workshop or many of the classes we have at our convention institutes, regional conferences, or even at the chapter level, you haven't had time to work in a formal student assessment activity.

Below are a couple of ideas you can easily incorporate into your next teaching opportunity. They not only give you a chance to see how well students are processing the information you are presenting, but also help you see how effective your content and presentation methods are in helping students learn. As you are organizing your presentation, remember that we all learn better when information is presented in small pieces. Just enough to chew on, but not too big to swallow!

1) Case Studies - Approach this like solving a mystery. Studies show that game-playing is very successful in helping people understand, apply and retain information and skills. We did it as kids (Scrabble for spelling, Yahtzee for math, etc.) Don't over explain the problem. Instead, encourage students to ask questions to gain more information. Unfold the case as if you were telling a story. Your audience becomes involved in the story and students become active in the learning process as they try to diagnose and solve the mystery. Present your basic content, then use the case study to apply the information, or work through the case study scenario while interjecting information that can help students solve the problem. Use visuals as much as you can, like photos, videos, models, or samples. Always practice with any props you are going to use. Be sure to include the solution to the mystery at the end of class. You want students to remember the correct answer.

2) What's Wrong With This Picture - There are lots of variations of this type of activity (What's Missing, Find the Differences, etc.) This is a visual activity that asks students to identify something that is wrong or missing in a picture (or it could be a real piano.) Again, this could be done as a final "quiz" or tied in with the content presentation by offering short bits of information followed by a slide to reinforce the concept just covered. This is another game-like activity, so it is also a way to engage our students in active learning. This is one of my favorite ways to help people apply knowledge and skills to situations where you can't physically touch or see the actual item in the visual. Always practice ahead of time with any props you choose to use. And last, but not least, be sure you provide correct answers for each of your scenarios. This is what students should take away from the class, plus they like to know whether or not they are right.
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11-22-2014 07:24

Hi Kathy,
Great post, but I have found the other approach also works with certain learners. Some just like to be told the facts and find the Socratic process frustrating. Also, it slows down the class. It depends on the class. I always have to be ready to change my style.