In the first two parts of our strategy-based instruction blog series, we explained the basis of this teaching method and explored how to verify the job skills that students need before entering the workforce.
Once you’ve determined what skills and behaviors your students need to learn based on what employers need, it’s time to figure out the best way to teach them. This is where both new and experienced instructors encounter a common problem. How do you cover all the material students should learn with limited time and resources?
In strategy-based diagnostics, the next step for technicians would be to list possible causes and then narrow down that list to find the problem. Similarly, instructors using strategy-based instruction should follow this approach and list ways to teach. This means inspecting all your available resources before narrowing down your potential teaching methods.
Consider Your Resources and Limitations
In an ideal classroom, all students would be able to practice in an environment that resembles a real work scenario, equipped with the proper tools and enough time to learn. The more you can make the learning environment mirror situations students will see as employees, the easier it will be for students to replicate the required behaviors when the time comes to perform the real skills, such as replacing a wheel bearing or filling out a repair order.
Unfortunately, every automotive class has limitations on what students can accomplish during class time, which means instructors must make concessions. For instance, how do you make sure students have enough time to practice in the shop? How do you teach students about tools that you have limited or no access to?
Seek Alternatives and Creative Solutions
Finding creative solutions to get students learning is the best way to maximize the time you have in the shop. As you create lesson plans and explore various teaching methods, consider the extent to which you can rely on both comprehensive content and virtual resources to help you make up for those limitations.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What skills must my students walk away with?
- Can some of the learning be done elsewhere?
- Is there a different way I can teach?
What Skills Must My Student Walk Away With?
Your teaching strategy should allow you to teach more effectively and give your students more real-life, hands-on practice. Whether you want your students to know how to inspect a vehicle, how to diagnose and fix a complex electrical system, or simply how to work safely, asking yourself this question will help you understand
- What skills your students already have or need to review
- The most effective way to build on existing skills or review and reinforce necessary fundamentals (online resources outside the classroom can help tremendously in this area)
- What steps they need to progress
Can Some of the Learning Be Done Elsewhere?
Creative solutions can be as simple as having students watch a video or identify safety hazards from a picture online.
You also might find it better to adopt a flipped classroom model. A flipped classroom uses technology like videos and recorded lessons to “flip” the traditional classroom model by providing lecture materials online to students outside class time. Then, it focuses the face-to-face class time on activities and practical application of those lectures. In other words, students complete their homework before class and work on hands-on assignments during class.
Is There a Different Way I Can Teach?
Introducing new and relevant content can be supported by both virtual resources and student collaboration, especially once students begin to practice new skills in the shop.
Be open to new methods, training materials, and input from students or other instructors, especially if you think students are having trouble learning.
Build Up to Change
Overhauling your entire teaching plan for the next term isn’t realistic. Fortunately, doing a little bit of change at a time, one course at a time, can add up over several years to form a completely updated program. To keep yourself up-to-date on new ideas and teaching techniques, try attending local or national conferences.
Maximizing the usefulness of your available time and resources is only part of the process. No matter what skill you want students to learn, practice is essential.
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