Teaching involves an opened-minded plan for helping students meet and exceed educational goals. Teaching styles may differ from teacher to teacher, class to class and school to school. Yet every teaching objective must include a structured but flexible process for student advancement.
Interactive teaching styles incorporate a multitude of goals beneath a single roof. Interactive classes are designed around a simple principle: Without practical application, students often fail to comprehend the depths of the study material. Interactive training styles provide four basic forms of feedback:
- Measurable student accomplishments — Teachers making use of interactive teaching styles are better equipped to access how well students master a given subject material.
- Flexibility in teaching — Applying training methods that involve two-way communications enable the teacher to make quick adjustments in processes and approaches.
- Practice makes perfect — Interactive instruction enhances the learning process.
- Student motivation — Two-way teaching dispels student passivity.
Applying interactive education
Whereas students often lose interest during lecture-style teaching, interactive teaching styles promote an atmosphere of attention and participation. Make it interesting. Make it exciting. Make it fun. Telling is not teaching and listening is not learning.
The ARMA International Center for Education offers the following guidelines to express the focus of interactive educational teaching styles:
- Encourage student participation.
- Use questions that stimulate response, discussion and a hands-on experience.
- Use teaching aids that press for answers, and capture and hold the student’s attention.
- Set up a work group environment.
- Involve yourself as well as the student.
5 interactive teaching styles that make a difference
Now is the time to start bringing life into your teaching styles.
1. Brainstorming — various techniques
Interactive brainstorming is typically performed in group sessions. The process is useful for generating creative thoughts and ideas. Brainstorming helps students learn to pull together. Types of interactive brainstorming include:
- Structured and unstructured
- Reverse or negative thinking
- Nominal group relationships
- Online interaction such as chat, forums and email
- Team-idea mapping
- Group passing
- Individual brainstorming
2. Think, pair and share
Establish a problem or a question. Pair the students. Give each pair sufficient time to form a conclusion. Permit each participant to define the conclusion in his or her personal voice. You can also request that one student explain a concept while the other student evaluates what is being learned. Apply different variations of the process.
3. Buzz session
Participants come together in session groups that focus on a single topic. Within each group, every student contributes thoughts and ideas. Encourage discussion and collaboration among the students within each group. Everyone should learn from one another’s input and experiences.
4. Incident process
This teaching style involves a case study format, but the process is not so rigid as a full case study training session. The focus is on learning how to solve real problems that involve real people. Small groups of participants are provided details from actual incidents and then asked to develop a workable solution.
5. Q&A sessions
On the heels of every topic introduction, but prior to formal lecturing, the teacher requires students to jot down questions pertaining to the subject matter on 3×5 index cards. The lecture begins after the cards are collected. Along the route, the teacher reads and answers the student-generated questions. Some tips for a good session are as follows:
- Randomize — Rather than following the order of collection or some alphabetical name list, establish some system that evokes student guesswork concerning the order of student involvement.
- Keep it open-ended — If necessary, rephrase student questions so that participants must analyze, evaluate and then justify the answers.
- Hop it up — Gradually increase the speed of the Q & A. At some point, you should limit the responses to a single answer, moving faster and faster from question to question.
The options for interactive training styles number into the dozens. In a brief PowerPoint presentation on interactive teaching techniques, Kevin Yee from the University of Central Florida provides concise descriptions of 186 different approaches to interactive educational formats. Click here to see the compilation.