Students from passive receptors to dancers?!!!
As an instructor, crafting your teaching philosophy that you believe is the most effective for your students is not an easy task. As Sarah Deel mentioned, you probably as a new instructor will try to imitate the way your professors used to teach you when you were in school. However, everyone has his own personality and not all instructors can do the same thing and be effective for students. In addition, students are different from each other and accordingly, one method of instruction is not effective for all students. So, how to figure out a method of instruction that suits your personality and is effective for your students is really a challenging task.
According to me I believe in active learning as a good way of conveying knowledge to students. It was mentioned in several educational research papers that engagement is a key factor in student understanding. Active learning turns the student from a passive receptor of knowledge (less engagement) to an active generator of knowledge (high engagement). So how can this be achieved?
I will take an example from a computer science course named “Data Structures and Algorithms” which is a critical course in any computer science curriculum and contains a lot of abstract concepts with no physical manifestation. This makes it really hard for students to easily grasp these concepts. The old traditional way of teaching this course is to present the idea behind a particular algorithm and show its pseudo code and try to discuss what this code is doing. For example here is the pseudo code for one of the most important sorting algorithms named Insertionsort.
As you see this code describes the dynamic process of sorting a list of numbers. It is really hard to make your students understand this mechanical process using static pseudo code representation. I bet the students will not be engaged to this method of presentation.
Another method of presenting this is to provide a visual animated depiction to this dynamic sorting process. I believe this to be a large leap from the traditional pseudo code approach, but still the students are passive in that they are just viewing what is going on in the animation without being actually active. Here is an example of an animation for Insertionsort from the OpenDSA project at Virginia Tech.
What about making students learn this sorting algorithm with dancing? Believe me we can do that. Look at this Video.
If we can make our students learn this hard and abstract concepts by performing a joyful engaging act like dancing, then we have turned our students from passive receivers to active generators of knowledge. The only drawback of this method is that it is embarrassing to most of the students. But I totally agree with Sarah Deel when she mentioned that if you as an instructor described the reason of doing this type of activities to your students as to make them learn better, I believe they will like to participate.