A teacher has the role of ensuring that all learners in an inclusive setting acquire information or content knowledge. This is because an inclusive is whereat all students attend and learn together despite their languages, disabilities race and gender. Therefore it I incumbent upon all the teachers or educators in general to not only know their teaching styles so that their teaching has a two fold purposes where teachers teach and learners learn. Knowing how the students in a class learn and what strategies best fit the class can help in improving content knowledge of the students. To do this the following strategies can be used.
Cooperative learning or collaborative learning is one of the strategies that a teacher can employ to improve content knowledge. This is a strategy in which learners will be given a common task to work on in small groups. This strategy is vital because it allows students to think critically without relying on the information given by the teacher. The task can be as simple as solving a mathematics problem. Researchers reported that cooperation typically results in higher group and individual achievement, healthier relationships with peers, more metacognition and greater psychological health and self-esteem (Johnson and Johnson 1989)
Cooperative learning comes in two folds; which are formal and informal cooperative learning. Formal cooperative learning is structured, facilitated by the teacher over time. Examples of formal cooperative learning are; jigsaw technique, assignment that involves group problem solving. Informal cooperative learning is the one which subsume group learning with passive teaching by drawing attention to material throughout the lesson and it mainly involves pairs.
When well employed by the teacher the strategy encourages achievement, student discussion, active learning, student confidence and motivation, cooperation learning is cheap and relatively easy to implement.
Secondly, a strategy called inquiry based learning can also be incorporated in the teaching and learning process as a way of enhancing content knowledge of learners. When defined from a student’s point of view, inquiry based learning focuses on investigating and open question or a problem. Student will be expected to use evidence based reasoning to reach a conclusion which they must defend or present. From a teacher’s perspective, inquiry based teaching focuses on moving learners’ general curiosity into the real realms of critical thinking. The teacher encourages learners to ask questions and support them through the investigation process.
Examples of enquiry based learning can be ; case studies, group projects like in Design and Technology where by students are grouped and asked to come up with a group project and research project like in Social Studies where students are asked to come up with a research project.
Inquiry based learning strategy can be beneficial because it can be used to reinforce relevant content and improves understanding of core concepts. This is said to due to curiosities effect on the brain. When curiosity is sparked by a concept there is increased activity in the hippocampus. When students show more curiosity than normal a specific topic satiate it by using their questions to introduce an inquiry activity. In doing so the learners will effectively remember important information gleaned during the exercise, according to a study from association of psychological science. The inquiry based learning also promotes deeper understanding of content. When content is delivered to students through inquiry based method, learners should see it as more than a simple rule, idea or a formula. Many of them will understand how the idea was developed and why the formula or rule. This is because the process of asking questions, solving them through original strategies empowers learners to own their learning.
Lastly, the strategy that the teacher can employ in a inclusive setting is a hands-on learning. This is a strategy that directly involves the learners by encouraging them to do something in order to learn about it. It is also called learning by doing. In this method or strategy students practically do a task instead of being theoretically taught about it. For example in Design and Technology subject, instead of teaching students how to weld metals inside a classroom, students should be given pieces of metal to practically weld them as many people argue that doing something is the best way to learn about it rather than attempting to learn about it from the book. Furthermore hands on learning method allows learners to observe and understand what is happening. It is often not easy for learners to comprehend a concept they have never directly seen or experienced. For example, in a Social Studies subject, when teaching topic of mining, students will not easily understand how diamonds re mined so they can be taken to the mine to actually experience the mining of diamonds, instead of reading about it in books.
There are however some disadvantage to this strategy being that learners will feel that after learning the basics, they do not need to do anymore reading from books which will adversely affect their performance. However this strategy must be combined with theory for it to be more effective.
In conclusion it is clear that there are limited methods that teachers can employ in order to enhance content knowledge of students especially in an inclusive setting. It is not about the quality of the students in the class but about the way in which the information is relayed to them. If implemented well the strategy can be very vital in the teaching and learning process.
Centre for teaching Excellence “inclusive teaching strategies”, Cornell University, retrieved from:http://www.cte.cornell.edu/teaching-ideas/building-inclusive-classrooms/inclusive-teaching-strategies.html
Colorado, C(2015)Cooperative learning strategies. Retrieved from: http://colorin Colorado.org/article/cooperative learning-learning strategies
BOTSWANA OPEN UNIVERSITY
APPROACHES TO TEACHING AND LEARNING (AT 211)
STUDENT NUMBER: 201801135