Thursday, June 22, 2023

How to make Teaching Effective? Revisit Learning Process Through Student’s Perspective: Techniques of Teaching

As a teacher, have you ever thought about this: from the perspective of your students, how do they learn? Why do they learn what they do? What kind of learning process is involved in those especially memorable moments of learning?

Surely, if we were talking about traditional teaching methods, the simplest inference would be: the teacher "teaches">the student "learns", and voila, learning happens! But dig a bit deeper: how should the teacher "teach" to facilitate the student to "learn"? It's with this line of thinking that I wrote "The Art of Teaching", and further created the online course on the same topic, sharing effective teaching methods from our perspective as professional lecturers with all teachers. I'm glad that many teachers have transformed their classrooms after applying these methods, finding them truly effective. Here are some excerpts from the online course reviews:

"The teaching techniques employed really did get the students involved. Previously they were just looking down at their phones or napping, but with the gamified process and the teaching techniques, every student is now eager to participate."... Teacher Wu

"A-fu is a real guide to 'how to teach'! I highly recommend this to anyone doubting their teaching skills (like me) ... it can bring about enormous changes!"... TeacherLiu

"I use 福哥's methods introduced in the videos for my classes, and I can sense the noticeable progress in student learning every time. This course has truly benefited me a lot"... Teacher Chang

However, while I know that these teaching methods are effective, what I'm even more curious about is: from the perspective of the student's learning, how do these 'effective' teaching methods help students learn? What are they thinking during the process of absorbing knowledge and learning skills? How do they perceive the teaching of the teacher?


With these questions in mind, I conducted some follow-up research and interviews with students after several courses. Surprisingly, many students were particularly impressed by certain teaching sections in the day-long professional presentation course, such as the "Opening Techniques". Students said:

"This is quite special. Because few people systematically talk about this." (I-C4-P2-t2)

"It's more organized. The organized way of expressing it, so it's good at first listen, and it sticks in my mind." (I-C2-P2-t2)

"Actually, it can be applied through a formula, it won't make people feel that this is actually well packaged, I find this very useful." (c1-p1)

From the students' feedback, in addition to feeling "special", "useful", and "good", did you notice the keywords such as "systematic", "organized", and "formula"? This is because when we teach presentation openings, we use the Opening 123 formula, which includes self-questioning, self-selection, and 3P - purpose, process, benefits... etc., a combination of methods (seeTechniques on Stage).

These structured methods and formulas are the foundation for students to have a deep impression. For example, students also responded:

"The three paragraphs, the part of 3P, I think that's a very good way, purpose, process, and benefits." (C3-P1)

"Using such a theme, we use the structure of 3P for explanation." (C3-P1)

"Present some of the most important relevant data, or some suitable cases as stories, and finally bring out the Agenda smoothly." (I-C2-P2-t2)

Video or Live Demonstration

Of course, if it's only rigid formulas, they may not have much impact after listening. Therefore, using cases and videos to concretely illustrate is also an extremely important technique. For example:

"Showing a video for everyone to pay attention to the content, the instructor would analyze from the video and say 'I'll tell you what...'." (I-C4-P3-t2)

"First, show a video to everyone, and then after the explanation, you realize, oh, it's really all there." (c1-p1)

In skill-based teaching, videos are excellent teaching materials. If there's a demonstration video, students will have a further understanding of the skill the teacher wants to convey. Of course, if there's no video, the teacher's own demonstration is another approach, such as:

"I felt from the beginning that the opening was a bit different from the usual lecturers, so that's it, it turns out these methods were used." (c1-p1)

"The instructor uses a combination of the latest current affairs, in fact, it's quite eye-catching from the beginning." (C3-P1)

In short, whether it's through videos or the teacher's own presentation, it's crucial to let students see these skills truly demonstrated. This way, they can internalize the framework and formulas, which becomes key to their application afterwards. And from these responses, in addition to seeing the importance of teachers demonstrating and applying their own skills, we can also see what was previously mentioned in "The Technique of Teaching": the importance of a strong opening! Students are paying attention!


So, is that it? Of course not! Whether it's explaining formulas, teaching via videos, or the teacher presenting these techniques in the course, students' understanding might still be hazy. They can't yet fully connect these newly learned techniques and knowledge structure. Therefore, a demonstration by the teacher is needed.

"It's a live demonstration. In addition to the presentation, a live demonstration is done." (C3-P1)

"Throughout the process, he (the instructor) is continuously demonstrating, making it easier to understand where exactly the differences lie." (I-C4-P2-t2)

"In terms of my field, I feel the result of the demonstration is very precise." (I-C4-P2-t2)

A clear and accurate demonstration is also a crucial part of skill-based teaching. Only after a demonstration can you see some subtle differences, and only then can the knowledge framework and techniques be combined. Of course, demonstrating "on point," even when we use topics from students present in the class (which means there's no preparation time), highly depends on the teacher's teaching experience and proficiency!


In the online course "Techniques of Teaching," do you remember the three steps of the teaching method of practice: "I tell you," "I show you," and "You do it"? You'll find that after completing the demonstration, it's time for the students to try it themselves! That is, the step of practice:

"Let each small group represent and practice." (C3-P1)

"Practice deepens our impression." (I-C4-P3-t2)

Through practice, impressions are deepened, and it is a key to internalizing all learned skills. Of course, practice will cause some stress, but stress also accelerates students' learning. The process of practice usually involves small groups and is combined with gamification, that is, scoring and team competition mechanisms, to energize the entire course participation.

"Give us chips, it motivates us to earn them." (I-C4-P3-t2)

"I want to earn some points for our group, so there's a process of participation." (I-C4-P2-t2)


The conversations above were spoken by the students after the end of the course. Students' learning of opening techniques is not only impressive at the end of the course but also remains clear even one month, two months after the course... Of course, we analyze these points one by one according to the learning sequence. However, when we look at the big picture, for technical teaching to be truly effective, we can summarize it from the students' perspective into the following key points:

"I tell you": It's crucial to speak clearly, structure and systematize knowledge content, and pair it with videos or specific demonstrations by the teacher.

"I show you": Live demonstrations allow students to see subtle differences and better understand how to apply them. Of course, the precision and relevance of the demonstration depend on the teacher's skills.

"You do it": Allowing students to practice in small groups helps to internalize knowledge and skills through the process of implementation. Naturally, the discussion, competition, and gamification arrangements within the group are also key to making the course more engaging.

In "Techniques t of Teaching," we look at teaching from the teacher's perspective. Then, to go a step further, we shift to the learners' perspective to review what kind of teaching methods are enabling them to learn. These different angles of observation may provoke new thoughts and reflections about teaching!


If you're interested in "Teaching Techniques" and related courses offered by SFCLASS LTD, you can fill out the course priority notification form below to stay updated on the latest course openings (so you won't miss out when courses are already full!). And don't worry, we won't spam you with advertisements when there's nothing happening XD

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