Today’s instructor can choose from a wealth of ways to present instructional material: lecture, discussion, guided discussion, problem based, group learning, demonstration-performance, or e-learning. It is important to remember that a training delivery method is rarely used by itself. In a typical lesson, an effective instructor normally uses a combination of methods. For example, Bob lectures in the opening scenario, but after giving the students knowledge of how to compute weight and balance, he uses group learning to reinforce the lecture. To be an effective instructor, it is important to determine which teaching methods best convey the information being taught.
In the lecture method, the instructor delivers his knowledge via lectures to students who are more or less silent participants. Lectures are best used when an instructor wishes to convey a general understanding of a subject that students lack. While this is the most widely used form of presentation and instructors should know how to develop and present a lecture, they also should understand the advantages and limitations of this method.
Lectures are used for introduction of new subjects, summarizing ideas, showing relationships between theory and practice, and reemphasizing main points. The lecture method is adaptable to many different settings, including small or large groups. Lectures also may be used to introduce a unit of instruction or a complete training program. Finally, lectures may be combined with other teaching methods to give added meaning and direction.
The lecture method of teaching needs to be very flexible since it may be used in different ways. For example, there are several types of lectures, such as the illustrated talk where the speaker relies heavily on visual aids to convey ideas to the listeners. With a briefing, the speaker presents a concise array of facts to the listeners who normally do not expect elaboration of supporting material. During a formal lecture, the speaker’s purpose is to inform, to persuade, or to entertain with little or no verbal participation by the students. When using a teaching lecture, the instructor plans and delivers an oral presentation in a manner that allows some participation by the students and helps direct them toward the desired learning outcomes.
In general lectures, begin with an introduction of the topic to be discussed. It is also a good idea at this time to let students know whether or not questions during the lecture are welcomed. The body of the lecture follows with a summary of the lecture’s main points at the end.
The teaching lecture is favored by aviation instructors because it allows some active participation by the students. The instructor must determine the method to be used in developing the subject matter. The instructor also should carefully consider the class size and the depth of the presentation. As mentioned in the Effective Communication category, covering a subject in too much detail is as bad or worse than sketchy coverage. Regardless of the method of development or depth of coverage, the success of the teaching lecture depends upon the instructor’s ability to communicate effectively with the class.
In other methods of teaching such as demonstration-performance or guided discussion, the instructor receives direct reaction from the students, either verbally or by some form of body language. However in the teaching lecture, the feedback is not nearly as obvious and is much harder to interpret. In the teaching lecture, the instructor must develop a keen perception for subtle responses from the class—facial expressions, manner of taking notes, and apparent interest or disinterest in the lesson. The effective instructor is able to interpret the meaning of these reactions and adjust the lesson accordingly.
Preparing the Teaching Lecture
Careful preparation is one key to successful performance as a classroom lecturer. This preparation should start well in advance of the presentation. The following four steps should be followed in the planning phase of preparation:
- Establishing the objective and desired outcomes
- Researching the subject
- Organizing the material
- Planning productive classroom activities
In all stages of preparing for the teaching lecture, the instructor should support any point to be covered with meaningful examples, comparisons, statistics, or testimony. The instructor should consider that the student may neither believe nor understand any point without the use of testimony from SMEs or without meaningful examples, statistics, or comparisons. While developing the lesson, the instructor also should strongly consider the use of examples and personal experiences related to the subject of the lesson.
After completing the preliminary planning and writing of the lesson plan, the instructor should rehearse the lecture to build self-confidence. Rehearsals, or dry runs, help smooth out the mechanics of using notes, visual aids, and other instructional devices. If possible, the instructor should have another knowledgeable person, preferably another instructor, observe the practice sessions and act as a critic. This critique helps the instructor judge the adequacy of supporting materials and visual aids, as well as the presentation. [Figure 4-8]
In the teaching lecture, simple rather than complex words should be used whenever possible. Good newspapers offer examples of the effective use of simple words. Picturesque slang and free-and-easy colloquialisms, if they suit the subject, can add variety and vividness to a teaching lecture. The instructor should not, however, use substandard English. Errors in grammar and vulgarisms detract from an instructor’s dignity and insult the intelligence of the students.
If the subject matter includes technical terms, the instructor should clearly define each one so that no student is in doubt about its meaning. Whenever possible, the instructor should use specific rather than general words. For example, the specific words, “a leak in the fuel line” tell more than the general term “mechanical defect.”
Another way the instructor can add life to the lecture is to vary his or her tone of voice and pace of speaking. In addition, using sentences of different length helps, since consistent use of short sentences results in a choppy style. On the other hand, poorly constructed long sentences are difficult to follow and can easily become tangled. To ensure clarity and variety, the instructor should normally use sentences of short and medium length.