Methodology is the way(s) in which teachers share information with students. The information itself is known as the content; how that content is shared in a classroom is dependent on the teaching methods.
The following chart lists a wide variety of lesson methodologies appropriate for the presentation of material, which I will discuss here. Notice how these teaching methods move from Least Impact and Involvement (for students) to Greatest Impact and Involvement.
As you look at the chart, you'll notice that lecture, for example, is a way of providing students with basic knowledge. You'll also note that lecture has the least impact on students as well as the lowest level of student involvement. As you move up the scale (from left to right), you'll note how each successive method increases the level of impact and involvement for students. At the top, reflective inquiry has the highest level of student involvement. It also has the greatest impact of all the methods listed.
Knowledge is the basic information of a subject; the facts and data of a topic. Synthesis is the combination of knowledge elements that form a new whole. Performance refers to the ability to effectively use new information in a productive manner.
Across the bottom of the chart are three categories: knowledge, synthesis, and performance. These refer to the impact of each method in terms of how well students will utilize it. For example, lecture is simply designed to provide students with basic knowledge about a topic. Reflective inquiry, on the other hand, offers opportunities for students to use knowledge in a productive and meaningful way.
Now let's take a look at each of those three major categories and the methodologies that are part of each one.
How do you present basic information to your students? It makes no difference whether you're sharing consonant digraphs with your first-grade students or differential calculus with your twelfth-grade students; you must teach them some basic information. You have several options for sharing that information.
Lecture is an arrangement in which teachers share information directly with students, with roots going back to the ancient Greeks. Lecture is a familiar form of information-sharing, but it is not without its drawbacks. It has been overused and abused, and it is often the method used when teachers don't know or aren't familiar with other avenues of presentation. Also, many lecturers might not have been the best teacher role models in school.
Often, teachers assume that lecturing is nothing more than speaking to a group of students. Wrong! Good lecturing also demonstrates a respect for the learner, a knowledge of the content, and an awareness of the context in which the material is presented.
Good lectures must be built on three basic principles:
Knowing and responding to the background knowledge of the learner is necessary for an effective lecture.
Having a clear understanding of the material is valuable in being able to explain it to others.
The physical design of the room and the placement of students impact the effectiveness of a lecture.
Lecture is often the method of choice when introducing and explaining new concepts. It can also be used to add insight and expand on previously presented material. Teachers recommend that the number of concepts (within a single lesson) be limited to one or two at the elementary level and three to five at the secondary level.
It's important to keep in mind that lecture need not be a long and drawn-out affair. For example, the 10-2 strategy is an easily used, amazingly effective tool for all grade levels. In this strategy, no more than 10 minutes of lecture should occur before students are allowed 2 minutes for processing. This is also supportive of how the brain learns (see Effective Learning and How Students Learn). When 10-2 is used in both elementary and secondary classrooms, the rate of both comprehension and retention of information increases dramatically.
During the 2-minute break, you can ask students several open-ended questions, such as the following:
“What have you learned so far in this lesson?”
“Why is this information important?”
“How does this information relate to any information we have learned previously?”
“How do you feel about your progress so far?”
“How does this data apply to other situations?”
These questions can be answered individually, in small group discussions, or as part of whole class interactions.
The value of the 10-2 strategy is that it can be used with all types of content. Equally important, it has a positive effect on brain growth.
Lectures are information-sharing tools for any classroom teacher. However, it's critically important that you not use lecture as your one and only tool. You must supplement it with other instructional methods to achieve the highest levels of comprehension and utility for your students.
With this method, you assign material from the textbook for students to read independently. You may also choose to have your students read other supplemental materials in addition to the textbook. These may include, but are not limited to children's or adolescent literature, brochures, flyers, pamphlets, and information read directly from a selected website.