Teaching-Learning Strategies

1. Foundation

At Advanced Program – DUT, a set of related beliefs that influences organizing a program as well as teaching and learning methodologies: Purpose? Centroid? Environment ?

1.1. Purpose:  For each program or course, teaching purpose needs to be considered as learning materials are : i) introduced to learners ? ii) or taught to learners ? iii) or used by learners ?. Following Bloom’s taxonomy, introduction of a topic provides fundamental knowledge, while teaching a topic aims to help the learners to understand and apply the studied knowledge, even for supporting higher cognitive levels such as analysis, evaluation and creativeness.

1.2. Centroid: The Kolb learning cycle plays a leading role in integrating insights for planning teaching and learning activities throughout the whole program, through course, and through teaching hour.

KolbLearningCyle

This experiential learning cycle is entered at different points. Lecture-based courses that incorporate active learning begin with reflective observation to stimulate learning because students have a common base of experience. Lecture may start with abstract generalization and conclude with active experimentation, for example, problem sets or exercises. The capstone project provides the integrated concrete experiences and skills in engineering, creating the cognitive framework for subsequent learning of theory, experiencing real-world problems and solutions.

1.3. Environment: The design-implement experiences provide learning environment for teaching program in this cycling model: concrete experiences are the entry point to the experiential learning cycle. Students engage in tasks similar to real engineering practice, reflect on what they have learned from these experiences, generalize their learning to develop abstract ideas and principles, and test their new ideas with active experimentation and applications to other problems.

2. Preparation prior to Teaching

Instructors at the Advanced Program, DUT may need to prepare for a variety of teaching experiences. Not only does this process include designing or revising course and syllabus, it also involves:  i) knowing the type of class that instructors are teaching (e.g., large foundation class or small seminar, lecturing class or hand-on practicing class, core course or specialized course or capstone design project), ii) knowing type of teaching format (onsite teaching or online teaching or hybrid teaching), iii) understanding who your students are (freshman or sophomore or junior or senior), iv) understanding academic integrity policies and practices, v) mastering learning outcomes of the program and of the specific courses, and vi) developing productive working relationships among faculty – teaching assistant – lab assistant.

2.1. Designing Your Course and Syllabus: An effective course design begins with understanding your students; deciding what you want them to learn; determining how you will measure student learning performance; and planning activities, assignments, and materials that support student learning.

2.2. Teaching Different Types of Classes: Classes differ by size and format (e.g., discussion, lecture, practice, online, or hybrid) and are divided along disciplinary lines.  It is important for you to consider the unique characteristics of your class composition and to tailor the course structure, assignments, and activities to best support student learning. Paying attention to these details will create a learning environment in which students can successfully meet learning objectives.

2.3. Cultivating Lecturer and Teaching Assistant, Lab Assistant working relationships: Coordination and collaboration are the corner stones of a successful faculty/teaching assistant team. Setting appropriate expectations, delegating work, and establishing effective modes of communication early will increase the chances of success. This is especially true as the team negotiates course-related issues such as grading, office hours, section content, and student relations.

3. Engaging Students in Learning

Engaging students in the student-centered learning process increases their attention and focus, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills, and promotes meaningful learning experiences. When integrating various learning strategies into course, instructors need to consider ways to set clear expectations, design effective evaluation strategies, and provide helpful feedback mechanism from students for further improvement.

3.1. Flipping the Classroom: Flipping the classroom is a “pedagogy-first” approach to teaching. In this approach in-class time is “re-purposed” for inquiry, application, and assessment in order to better meet the needs of the individual learners.

3.2. Active Learning: Active learning requires students to participate in class, as opposed to sitting and listening quietly. Strategies include, but are not limited to, brief question-and-answer sessions, discussion integrated into the lecture, impromptu writing assignments, hands-on activities, and experiential learning events.

3.3. Leading Dynamic Discussions: While “good” discussions can be a powerful tool for encouraging student learning, successful discussions rarely happen spontaneously. Preparing ahead of time will help you delineate a clear focus for the discussion and set well-defined objectives and assessment parameters. This will enable the class to address important topics from multiple perspectives, thus increasing students’ curiosity for, and engagement with, course content.

3.4. Large Lecture Instruction: Large classes (60+ students) should not be limited exclusively to lecture-based teaching. In a large class participation can be designed to get students actively solving problems, interacting with one another and the instructor, and processing course material.

3.5. Teaching with Technology: In-classroom technologies podium-based computers, wifi, web-based tools (e.g., blogs, online forums, wikis, podcasts, etc.), and distance learning studio (e.g. project-based station, shared screen, remoted lecture, recorded lecturing video), continue to adapt into Advanced Program teaching activities. These tools have a high potential for supporting student learning in creative and innovative ways when properly aligned with the instructor’s learning objectives and course content.

3.6. Service Learning: Service-learning refers to learning that actively involves students in a wide range of experiences, which often benefit others and the community, while also advancing the goals of a given curriculum.

3.7. Office Hours: Office hours give students the opportunity to ask in-depth questions and to explore points of confusion or interest that cannot be fully addressed in class.  It is important for Advanced Program’s instructors to encourage their students to come to office hours and to use that time effectively.

4. Assessing and Improving Teaching

Assessing and improving teaching is best accomplished when multiple sources of evidence (self-reflection, student feedback, and peer observation) are well understood. At Advanced Program, DUT, we propose making use of these multiple source of evidence to obtain a holistic picture of an instructors approach and effectiveness.

4.1. Self-reflection on Teaching performance: It is key to engage systematic reflection on instructor’s  own teaching. Some easy yet consistent strategies for keeping track of instructors’s teaching are to annotate assignments, tests and class plans on an ongoing basis. This will help instructors keep track of things to keep and/or eliminate when instructors teach the class again. End-of-term summaries also help instructors reflect on their teaching and provide excellent fodder for the development of new classes and or improved versions of the same class.

4.2. Gathering Student Feedback: Gathering information from instructors’s students about their experience as learners in your class is a valuable way to assess instructors’s teaching. There are many ways of collecting feedback from students: offline and online surveys, contributed emails, open discussion, and open-ended feedback forms. Which method is best, depends on instructors’s assessment objectives and the kind of information instructors need.

4.3. Collaborating with Colleagues: Instructors may find colleague “peer reviews” a valuable way to gain multiple perspectives on teaching and learning as well as a welcome addition to tenure files. Observations are most effective when approached as a collaboration meant to benefit all involved.

4.4. Practicing the Workshops of Teaching and Learning: The workshop, conference of Teaching and Learning is a systematic study of instructional practice using disciplinary-specific perspectives. On the DUT campus, there are such kinds of workshops organized through projects such as HEEAP, VULII, Capstone Projects, CDIO … that instructors are engaging as a way to address questions they might have about a particular method, approach, or strategy related to student learning.

4.5. Assessing Student Learning: Practices related to Grading – both as an assessment of student performance and as a feedback mechanism through which students receive feedback on their work – vary widely across disciplines, course levels, departments and instructors. However, there are several strategies that most instructors agree contribute to successful grading: creating clear grading criteria, communicating these criteria to students, giving constructive feedback, and employing time management strategies when grading large amounts of student work. (details will be presented in Student Assessment)