Strategic teaching is a complex activity that involves decision-making procedures about a particular class, a course or a whole curriculum, starting by analyzing key variables in the teaching situation (variables of instruction). These key variables consist of the learning objectives, the learner’s characteristics and the teacher’s instructional preferences. After analyzing these variables, the instructor can now make decisions about the content of the course, structure, assessment methods, and other vital components.
The process involved in planning a course is challenging. (Although ‘the course’ refers to the unit of analysis under discussion, the method of developing an instructional strategy works effectively for an entire curriculum or an individual class).
As a tutor, you have to decide on topics to add or leave out; order of presentation of those topics; pedagogical procedures to employ (for example, discussion, lecture, hands-on experiments); suitable means of evaluating students; materials & technology to use; how to obtain feedback; and so on.
Most times, we make such decisions are made based on what was done by another faculty when they taught the class, or perhaps what your teacher did when you were a student. It is not certain those models can help accomplish the primary aim of teaching: assisting students to understand important ideas and skills relevant to your discipline.
Reason for Strategic Teaching Analysis
Carrying out a strategic teaching analysis – that is to analyze different key variables related to the course and the decision-making process using that analysis – will increase the possibility of achieving the course objectives. Have in mind that this only increases the likelihood of achieving course objectives, it does not guarantee that the objectives of the course will be met.
Undertaking strategic analysis before planning a course has another advantage: It makes work very easy. By consciously detecting the unique features of the course, you create criteria that serve as a guide in deciding how the class should be taught and organized.
The Elements of a Strategic Teaching Analysis
A teaching strategy consists of five steps: variables, constraints, decisions, assessment, and refinement. And the first step has to deal with analyzing 3 key elements in the environment learning takes place: the student’s characteristics, the course objective, and instructors style and characteristics. These three key elements are connected, thus, are more likely to influence one another.
For instance, you want your students to develop the skill to join effort with others in solving a difficult problem (objective of the course). On the other hand, if your student lacks fundamental teamwork skills (student’s characteristic), they need to be trained in that field to be able to accomplish the task you set for them. Or you might be uncomfortable teaching your student teamwork skills because you are not conversant with the active learning approach required to teach this skill (instructor’s qualities). These 3 factors will make you decide on devoting some classes to a professional in that field to train the student on teamwork skills.
You should have it in mind that when analyzing the primary component of the course that any of the key elements could be affected by any number of constraints. E.g., you may have to abandon your objectives of helping the students develop teamwork skills if you cannot find someone to train them. Or, you can tell that the best way to evaluate a student is through an oral examination, but the time required to effect this makes this choice impossible.
The solutions to questions about the students, objectives, and instructor tempered by realities enforced due to constraints will create a series of key decisions about the content and organization of the course, type of assessment you create, the combination of pedagogical techniques to employ as well as the materials and technologies to use. This decision-making process is much easier since there are made from the analysis you carried out.
Identifying the assessment process is the final step in the strategic analysis, you use this to obtain feedback on the course progress. You can achieve this by asking these questions: How do you gather feedback on your instruction? On organization and course content? Above all, how can you tell your learners are acquiring the knowledge or skill you expect them to have?
Finally, how can you refine and improve the course from the different kinds of feedback you gathered?
Strategic Teaching in Context
It’s vital you know that every course is designed based on Constellation of social systems – the discipline, the departments, the university, the academic society, industries, and the community as a whole – capable of influencing what to teach, how to teach, and when to teach. Recall the example of helping the student develop teamwork skills; you might have decided on this objective because industry representatives mentioned that your graduates lacked sufficient teamwork skills.
Apparently, there is no perfect course. Rather, it will only involve successions of good compromises dependent on specific factors. When you set priorities and seek the best likely outcome. It will result in a good decision-making process.