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Instructional Strategies

(Based on Carnegie Mellon’s Instructional Strategies webpage.)

How can we use class time effectively to promote student learning? In addition to lectures, there are many other instructional strategies that can help facilitate class room learning as well.
(Click the links below for more information on each instructional strategy)
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  • Lectures: Traditional lectures are one of the most common instructional strategies that are utilized in the classroom. It is important to plan the structure of your lecture ahead of time to maximize effectiveness and increase student learning.  The following tips can help planning a lecture:
  1. Start with an introduction, outline, agenda or visual representation of the lecture.
  2. Include signposts and transitions.
  3. Employ a variety of examples.
  4. Include periodic summaries.
  5. Bring the lecture to a close.
  • Discussions: Discussions can be a great tool to allow students to formulate and defend arguments, consider and evaluate other points of view, and encourage interactions between peers.  To have a successful discussion, start by communicating the goals of your discussion with the students, and make a strategy to accomplish these goals. Choosing good questions is also very important. Some important types of questions to consider are :
  1.  Exploratory questions: probe facts and basic knowledge
  2. Challenge questions: interrogate assumptions, conclusions or interpretations
  3. Relational questions: ask for comparisons of themes, ideas, or issues
  4. Diagnostic questions: probe motives or causes
  5. Action questions: call for a conclusion or action
  6. Cause-and-effect questions: ask for causal relationships between ideas, actions, or events
  7. Extension questions: expand the discussion
  8. Hypothetical questions: pose a change in the facts or issues
  9. Priority questions: seek to identify the most important issue(s)
  10. Summary questions: elicit synthesis
  • Labs/Studios: Whether you are teaching a class in the arts or sciences, using class time for hands on activities can provide a powerful learning experience for students. When planning a lab, consider the following tips:
  1. Determine and share learning objectives
  2. Provide safety instruction
  3. Do a dry run
  4. Situate particular exercises
  5. Distribute attention and provide feedback
  6. Use questions to encourage critical thinking
  7. Stress the importance of clear communication
  8. Bring closure
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