Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lecturing: Trying to give up a bad habit

There's a lot of talk, discussion, and research, that basically says that lecture-format teaching is not very effective. Indeed, if it's primary goal is information-transferal, it is quite ineffective. However tertiary education is dominated by them. And because it's dominated by lectures, students get inculcated into a system where this is what tertiary education is. Which has the detrimental effect that those who succeed best at the academic game continue teaching how they were taught, which simply perpetuates lecturing.

I lecture too much. It's what I'm used to, I feel comfortable speaking, and in a context with so few native-language resources I struggle to come up with other ways to engage students. I also replicate my classics classes too much with one student, one verse, read translate, discuss, repeat.

So I'm trying to come up with ways to give up these bad habits. Here are some of my thoughts:

Model - Trial - Critique

Model: I need to keep modelling how to do exegesis, but I also need to improve how I show this and explicitly teach this. One prong is that I will have a student translate some material over summer explaining clearly this process as well as how to write exegetical papers for my class. A second element is that through classes I will explicitly work through a text showing both exegesis and the method of exegesis.

Trial: The second element is making them do the work. I want to set passages for each student to prepare an exegetical treatment of, and then lead the rest of the class through their work. I think this will also help engage the fact that my students are often better speakers than they are writers.

Critique: The third element is to include more peer-interaction in two forms. Firstly, to assign half their marks from the written component to 2 other students involved in peer marking an feedback. Secondly, to encourage more class participation and discussion during the students' teaching sessions.

I am trying to work out if I can do something similar with Thematic material. I think it is possible but that students will need more guidance on specific themes and more engagement from me as their instructor during the class.

Discussion and free-flowing conversation is difficult for me to manage well in a 2nd language context. One approach I might take is to cordon off the last 20mins of each 2hr block and give some set questions for discussion each week and assign a discussion leader for the week.


kristan said...

The process you describe as "Trial" was what made Bill Salier's NT classes some of the best in my memory of Moore. This is exactly what he had us do - I guess it was the teacher in him making sure we learned by doing.
Good on you for working on your lecturing methods - praying it benefits your students and that you can keep up the energy to reform.

Seumas Macdonald said...

Thanks for your comment Kristan.

I think it's much clearer for me to see how to do this in a Biblical studies/exegesis class.

Much harder to see how to apply it to a topical class like doctrine or church history, especially when I have no readings to assign and so cannot turn classes into discussions about readings.