For ages now, some of the brightest minds in science have been trying to pinpoint what it is exactly that makes learning more effective. Different tutors have employed various techniques with great success, but are there some common denominators that can make a learning classroom reach its full potential. Due to the fact that the learning process itself is something quite subjective, there might not be a definitive answer to this question. Still, here are five elements that most would agree belong in an effective learning classroom.
1. Students are asking questions
An ancient Chinese proverb claims that he who asks a question remains a fool for five minutes, while he who doesn’t ask remains a fool forever. As harsh as this may sound, one of the first indicators that something is off in the classroom is that students are too afraid to ask questions. This happens for several reasons, two most important ones being that A) they are afraid that they will look foolish in the eyes of their tutors and B) they are afraid that they will look foolish in the eyes of their peers. Needless to say, a great teacher has the means to deal with both of these issues by creating an environment that invites questions.
2. An outlined course
One should never downplay the power of intrinsic motivation; however, knowing their end-goal is hardly enough to keep students interested for the whole duration of the course. Therefore, an efficient teacher starts the course by stating its goals and briefly mentioning the methods that will be used in order to achieve them. Aside from this, those who are interested in providing a slightly more detailed run-down might want to look into the idea of booklet printing and distribute hard copies to their students. This way, they can even track the progress of the course and use this material as a great aid during their study.
3. A variety of learning models
Another key feature to remember is that while some learning models may be considered a bit more traditional, none of them ever become completely obsolete. You see, different models are great for teaching different subjects and even different topics. Knowing how to use several different models efficiently, within the duration of the same course is not an easy task, but it might be vital in helping students adopt new knowledge with great success.
4. Including all learning styles
Generally speaking, there are three major learning styles that are determined by the dominant sense in a particular learning process. The basic division of these models is the so-called VAK (Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic) system. Unlike learning models, the success rate of including different learning styles mostly depends on the personality and predisposition of the learner. While it is true that most people are visual learners, an effective learning classroom leaves no one behind, which is why an effective teacher tries to employ all of these tactics at once. In addition to these three, there is also a fourth modality – tactile learning style, although it is significantly less present in a lot of subjects, due to its somewhat impractical nature.
5. Keeping the class interesting
This last part is definitely the most abstract of the five, yet it plays a vital role in the overall success of the course. In the past, a lot of teachers believed that the inability of students to follow the subject matter was due to their lack of interest in the topic at hand. Nonetheless, one’s inability to focus on the topic currently discussed isn’t necessarily determined by their lack of interest, but may be influenced by other factors.
It is the teacher’s job to make the topic interesting and relevant through interesting anecdotes, real-life examples and even jokes. This, of course, doesn’t mean that one should turn their lecture into a stand-up comedy routine, but speaking for an hour and a half in a monotonous voice while standing motionless in front of the class is the worse alternative.
As the end of the day, some of the above-listed elements were discovered by careful decade-long studies, while others are quite intuitive and obvious to anyone who has ever attended a lecture. One thing they have in common, though, is that they are all vital to creating the ultimate learning environment, which is the end goal of every conscientious teacher.