12 Educational Philosophy, Concepts, Methods, and Skills in Teaching important content. This cannot happen without the teacher’s guidance of the discussion. Productive class discussion has movement it is not free-flowing self-expression or a “bull session.” It possesses a unity because the teacher is keeping it related to the learning goals that give it direction. Instructors often invite students to discuss their cases in class as a way of bringing the material alive and helping them integrate and apply their class- room learning to their practice in the field. When we introduce the course to our students (all of whom are also in the field), we remind them that we will be teaching a class, not facilitating a field seminar. This means that students’ introduction of cases must be related to and reflect the course content. If stu- dents bring up a case that is not relevant, instructors can acknowledge their sense of urgency and the legitimacy of their concerns, but then suggest that the class return to the topic at a later point have students take up the issue with their field instructor or in their field seminar and/or meet outside of class for continued discussion. Using small groups. The class can be divided into small subgroups (three to six students) to work on a common learning issue or task. This may include tracing historical themes, understanding and applying complex concepts, discussing a prepared case, developing a program proposal, or preparing a class presentation on an assigned subject. If a formal presentation is required, students may need to meet outside of class, pooling their knowledge and mastering the content. They will also have to develop a method for pre- sentation that engages their peers in the learning process. To ensure qual- ity presentations, the teacher can meet with each group to provide needed resources and suggestions. For briefer, more informal work, the teacher can create subgroups, provide them with a focus and instructions, and allow them a specified period of time to complete an assignment. Each group selects a note-taker to pull together the discussion and present the material. At the end of the allotted time, the teacher invites each group to share its report and pulls together core concepts and iden- tifiable trends in thought. Lecture Method While discussion may be the most used teaching:learning method in practice courses, lectures increase the clarity of the subject and students’ appreciation for what they are learning. They may be planned or spontaneous. Lectures have the obvious advantage of saving time. For that very reason, however, lectures need to be used selectively so that any material that would be best developed by students working collectively with their instructor is reserved for discussion. The lecture serves three important purposes, described next.
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