Instructional strategies provide a plan for assisting the learners with their efforts for each performance objective. Instructional strategies take the form of a lesson plan or a set of production specifications. The purpose is to outline how instructional activities will relate to, and assist the learner with meeting, the performance objectives.
Audio visual instructional media can play a vital role in enhancing the learning environment. The use of audio/visual media can lengthen the average adult’s attention span by strategically refocusing attention. The combination of audio and visual media is more effective than either medium used alone, with learner retention significantly increased over a longer period of time. The classes of media range from handouts to videos to models to computer software.
Demonstration is the basic method for teaching psychomotor skills. The method begins with a practical step-by-step performance by the instructor of a procedure, with a detailed explanation accompanying each step. A demonstration should be accompanied or immediately followed by having learners practice the activity or skill being demonstrated for reinforcement and retention.
Discussions typically begin with the instructor describing the goal or purpose of the discussion. Sometimes discussions may be initiated by the posing of an open-ended question. Instructors can employ a number of techniques to encourage learners to participate in discussions, including calling on specific people, or assigning learners to be an “expert” or leader for various parts of the discussion. Many cooperative activities include a “small group” discussion as teams work together.
Guided Observation is an interactive process of meeting performance objectives by having learners share information and experiences in the classroom. During a guided observation, the instructor asks focused questions and periodically summarizes concepts and principles but does not attempt to dominate the discussion. Learners are active participants and are asked to explore a subject by actively offering knowledge, ideas, opinions, and experiences.
Lecture refers to a formal presentation of information, concepts or principles by an individual. A lecture can be modified to include discussion, demonstration and application.
Practice and Feedback
Practice and feedback increases the probability the learner will remember the concept or skills and also conditions the learner to be better able to perform the skill. Practice and feedback is an important component of learning. If learners are provided with an opportunity to practice what they should be able to do to achieve the learning goal, feedback is elicited as well. Learners will gain a better understanding of what is expected of them to achieve the learning goal, and learning is enhanced. Feedback offers an opportunity to guide the learners into learning. Incorrect answers or demonstration of skills is an opportunity to “teach”. It should never be assumed that just because you have explained to the learners what they should be able to do, that they will actually know how to do it. Practice and feedback allows the learner to gain a better understanding of the content by trying it out themselves. A component of practice and feedback should be built into each training module to allow the learners to try each learning goal for themselves. It is important to have this opportunity during each module rather than waiting until all modules have been presented to allow the learners to feel confident and satisfied before introducing new content.
Question and Answer Periods
Question and answer periods allow learners to ask questions after each module as a method of reinforcing your message and selling your ideas. In addition, because learners can ask for clarification, they are less likely to leave the training with misconceptions about the concepts you delivered.
Reading allows learners to construct meaning from a text. Reflection encourages learners to think and talk about what they have observed, heard or read. The instructor or student initiates the discussion by asking a question that requires learners to reflect upon and interpret experiences, read or recorded stories, or illustrations. As learners question and recreate information and events, they clarify their thoughts and feelings.
Role-Playing offers learners an opportunity to act out a situation based on simulated work situations and provides a more valid experience than merely talking about a topic. Learners role-play the attitudes and behaviors involved in carrying out a task or job responsibility.
Simulated Job Settings
Simulated job settings are used to put the learner in a “real” workplace situation so that learners are able to experience consequences of their behavior and decisions.
Instructor-led instructional strategies produce a guide to help implement the goal of the lesson plan without necessarily conveying its exact content to the learners. The instructor gives directions, refers learners to appropriate materials, directs the class activities, and supplements existing materials with direct instruction.
Learner-centered strategies present a learning objective, an activity guide, the material to be viewed or read, practice exercises, and a self-check testing system for the learner.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M. A. Human Resource Development