I think many of the popular pedagogical approaches (problem-based learning, active learning, case-based pedagogies) have expanded to various learning environments and disciplines. This is a good thing, do not get me wrong, but I also tend to stumble upon conversations that talk about how some instructors struggle with implementing those in their classrooms, and some tend to give up saying that “it’s not for me” after several difficult experiences.
I admit personally that many of these approaches can be daunting, and I have not figured out how I would implement them in my future classrooms, nor have I implemented them before. However, I do want to point out that context matters. Before anyone starts jumping onto the bandwagon of “PBL is good” or “we should do this because it is the right thing to do”, instructors should reflect first on the contexts they are going to be facilitating learning in. Class size, students’ backgrounds, assessment and evaluation requirements, classroom furniture arrangement, course contexts, and even departmental cultures. Not to mention the pandemic we are currently experiencing. Considering all these factors may make implementing these pedagogies less overwhelming and more adaptable. As one of my peers always says: “Start small and short, and evaluate how to move forward.”
Although I have not been an instructor of record, here are some of the strategies I may employ while implementing some of these pedagogical approaches.
- Reflect on the different contextual factors about the classroom and document all these factors so that I can visualize it.
- Review some articles and research on the approaches, especially those that document implementations of said approaches.
- Plan out the structure. Starting small is important, since this will be my first time. This means I may use it for one of the modules in the course, for example, instead of implementing it for the whole course.
- Using “backward” design, which suggests setting up the learning outcomes, then assessments, and finally, the pedagogical approaches, I can lay the overall structure of the implementation and module.
- Continuously assess in formative manners to gauge students’ experiences during implementation for immediate and future improvements.
- Improvise! A friend tells me: “Planning can only do so much. In teaching, you have to improvise sometimes because you cannot anticipate every possible scenario.”
These are some of the strategies I can use in the future, and I definitely am excited about it.