Effective Teaching & Learning Strategies

Traditional classrooms can be enhanced with some teaching creativity.

To become a good teacher, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your students and attempt to understand their learning styles. Incorporating various methods of teaching in your classroom can stimulate learning for many different students who may benefit from a variety of instructional methods.

1 Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is one method that works well in today's diverse classrooms. With the advent of online distance education, collaborative learning has become more common. Collaborative learning uses group projects that allow more than one person to have input on the final product. If completed properly, a collaborative learning project can be an excellent way to supplement regular class material and get students to work together outside of the classroom. Allowing students free rein to determine how much each person in the group will contribute to the project gives the class ownership of the project. Students should also be able to evaluate the efforts of each member of the group and, as a group, have some input in what grade each student gets. This will keep each student honest and active in the execution of the group project.

2 Multimedia Teaching and Learning

Students can be bored by the traditional lecture format, especially in classes that meet only one day per week for longer periods of time. One effective way to teach such courses is to use various multimedia formats to stimulate interest in the lecture material. This works especially well in history and humanities courses where students hear lectures about people and cultures in the distant past. Students find it easier to understand these when they have heard and seen the places, people and events they hear about in the lecture. Using various documentary DVDs and other material which you are allowed to show in the classroom can provide reinforcement of the content students are supposed to learn.

3 From Theory to Practice

Students often learn theory in many of their college classes, regardless of the discipline. The University of Wisconsin Madison's College of Engineering notes that the use of practical examples in relation to engineering theory provides a resource for teachers to reinforce the theory. In a manual provided for teaching assistants, the department emphasizes keeping examples as simple as possible. Much like showing students a video or using some other type of multimedia presentation, simple and straightforward examples help illustrate the point you are making. This works well in nontechnical fields as well. For example, students of religion and philosophy benefit from the use of analogies expressed in terms that the students use everyday and can understand.

Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.