Recommendations for interactive teaching methods
November 14, 2013 6:06 AM   Subscribe

I am working on compiling a list of interactive activities for my faculty colleagues. Our department is trying to move away from heavy lecture-based teaching, and my goal is to compile a resource guide of ways to involve students in the learning process so that the department can provide support to faculty who have less experience with this approach to teaching. Can MeFi recommend resources to me that I can add to our resource guide?

The kinds of things I am looking for are resources that explain or give examples of doing a group brainstorm, small group discussions, role playing, activities, etc. I am trying to leave this broad so I don't close off any good suggestions. The more specific the advice is, the better--many of these instructors think all group discussions are the same and don't know how to change the way the discussion is directed/set up/facilitated in order to achieve different objectives.

Our student base is primarily adult learners and working professionals.
posted by philosophygeek to Education (6 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
One method is to assign a portion of the lesson to each student, then they create the lesson and teach it to the group.

Sort of the med school, "watch one, do one, teach one."

By teaching the material it really sticks with you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:13 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing your discipline may be philosophy, based on your user name. There are lots of great active-learning discipline-specific resources out there. Check your professional societies webpages. One of my favorites in science is The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. There are several history/philosophy of science and bioethics case studies that could be interesting to you.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:26 AM on November 14, 2013

When I was in graduate school, I taught undergraduate anthropology courses. Some of my best lessons started with what I called "workshops." Instead of teaching certain material outright, I gave groups of 3-4 students a several page handout with 15-25 questions and space to write their collective thoughts/answers. One of the units this was most effective with was gender, sex, and marriage. The first questions were something like "what is a real man" and "how many genders are there" etc. Almost all of the students started the assignment/workshop saying that there are two genders and two sexes. By the end... They ALL would say there are infinite genders! It was fantastic for me, because even though I went around talking to each group, they came to their conclusions on their own- and it made the material that much more meaningful! Paired with appropriate material, workshops are a great way to break up the monotony of standard lectures.
posted by maya at 6:31 AM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I recommend these often when people ask about teaching, but they've got really good ideas, and the format of the books are really easy to follow too:
Barkley - Student Engagement Techniques
Angelo & Cross - Classroom Assessment Techniques

I'd also suggest going and checking out the resources available through the Interactivity Foundation's section on Classroom Discussion. My college currently collaborates with them on our first-year experience classes, and the techniques have worked really well for us.
posted by bizzyb at 6:35 AM on November 14, 2013

When I taught college students, I did some googling on this topic. These were a few of the sites I bookmarked that I think could be helpful. (And all the [large research] universities I've been at have some sort of teaching center on campus designed to help faculty with this. You might check out your university's site.)

UNC Charlotte has some short summaries of specific practices

and Missouri State describes best practices (though doesn't provide as many examples)
posted by kochenta at 11:13 AM on November 14, 2013

posted by lalochezia at 8:22 PM on November 14, 2013

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