Applying the Principles of Teaching and Learning

Article excerpt

WITHIN CAREER, TECHNICAL AND AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION a number of guiding principles exist relative to effective teaching and learning. These teaching and learning principles can be tied to a specific discipline or even an individual institution. They may even be specific to an individual educator. Whatever the case, for teachers to meet the educational needs of students and for students to be challenged to learn, all teachers should operate from a core set of principles for effective teaching and learning. Principles of teaching and learning provide a basis for all aspects of the instructional process (Newcomb, McCracken, Warmbrod and Wittington, 2004). However, these principles are only meaningful once they are put into practice. At present this article is meant by no means to be a complete discussion of the aforementioned topic. More expressly, this article is to be a succinct and useful discussion of some of the most essential components involved in the teaching and learning conversation.

Applying Teaching and Learning Principles

As the principles of a quality teaching and learning experience are discussed, it is important to remember that if the learning experience is going to be beneficial it must be applied correctly and appropriately. As society changes with the increased use of educational technologies, so does the way teachers need to teach and learners need to learn. It is with this thought in mind that the following methods of applying the principles of teaching and learning need to be examined by each teacher.

First, it is important to acknowledge that successful teaching relies on the teacher and learner working together for success. Learning cannot be a "me against you" process. The teacher must have a desire to educate and the learner must have a desire to learn. The greater this commitment by each individual, the more successful the learning experience will be. In order for this relationship to flourish it is necessary for the teacher and learner to have contact with each other. Even with the use of computers and distance education courses, a relationship can be formed between the teacher and learner (Chickering and Ehrmann, 1996). By developing a relationship between the teacher and learner, motivation and involvement is increased.

Next, when applying the basic principles of teaching and learning, learning is best accomplished when students work cooperatively and as a team. It has been shown that learning is "interactive" (School Communities That Work, 2002). When students work together, they have conversations between each other and expand upon their own knowledge through the knowledge of others. They participate in activities and learn from each others' mistakes and successes. Working together in groups and teams allow students to examine and develop insights into the question at hand and into their own thought processes. Realizing that learning is an active process, good teaching techniques make certain that the learners are involved in their own learning and that they are involved in the creation of their learning experiences.

Learning experiences need to assist students in developing themselves both cognitively and behaviorally. The learning process should assist the learner in developing insight into their own learning. The use of hands-on and interactive lessons helps the learner accomplish this. In order for students to learn, they must be engaged in the learning process. According to Chickering and Ehrmann, "Time plus energy equals learning" (p. 5). A teacher needs to focus and direct learning to maximize the educational experience. Pascarella and Terenzini (1998) found in their analysis that learning is maximized when students are engaged and involved in their own learning.

Setting and requiring high expectations is also important to the teaching and learning process. Teachers who set high expectations of their students see higher gains in student accomplishment and success (Candy, Crebert and O'Leary, 1994). …