Theory is perceived by some teachers as difficult for students to comprehend. Equally, many students perceive theory as hard to follow and dull.
Remember the emotional element. Make theory real, using examples that mean something to your students. The trick is to tap into students’ prior knowledge. Find something that is relevant to them, that engages them. Theory is often presented before the examples, but try it the other way. Theory can be effectively built up, after the examples. Deconstruct theoretical concepts and ‘keep it simple’. Use repetition. Reinforce in different ways to ground the theory. Keep to three concepts per lecture if possible. Simplify complex ideas initially. You can build in complexity later, through empirical research.
An all-encompassing theory of teaching can be conceived only as a hierarchy of interrelated theories. Six higher-order subtheories are distinguished corresponding to the type of study needed (descriptive, prescriptive, normative) and the type of question to be answered (what vs how to teach). A prescriptive theory of teaching is outlined. Based upon an information-processing approach, the theory deals with the question of how to teach in some detail. The conception of functions of teaching gives rise to a general teaching algorithm that seems to be useful both in instructional research and in the designing of instruction.
Previous article in issue
Next article in issue