International Conference on Science and Technology Education





Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen!
The environment is changing very fast, it is reshaping at a rapid pace specifically because the
emergence of new technologies is changing the society, changing the way we live, the way we
communicate and do business and also the way we learn. Consequently, our educational systems are
facing significant pressure to change the way we educate our children too in order to adequately
prepare them to live, learn, and work in a global, digital age. Education is all about change and
creativity, therefore there should be creative models for engagement in learning in a shifting
educational landscape. Education in the 21st century is different from what it used to be in the 17th
or 18th century because of the changes overtime and subsequently the variations in the learners’
needs particularly in this world of technological advancement. In this setting, new information is
worth more than old information and learning never stops. For Nigeria to be economically buoyant,
technologically advanced, intellectually skilled, politically stable and morally upright and move up the
ladder from developing to developed cadre there is need to make a change in the educational system.
Teaching and learning process should be more effective by constant renewal in the knowledge
impacted and shared with the students all the time. The mode of instruction delivery needs to
change from traditional teacher-centred to new learning that is learner-centred and globally
acceptable as is the case with the USA and other countries where education is undergoing a major
paradigm shift (change) from traditional learning environments focused on the teacher as the
“deliverer” of knowledge to new open learning environments focused on the learner as information
seeker. Although the movement in the USA and other developed countries took root first at the
primary and secondary levels of education, it has had an impact on tertiary education as well.
Likewise, there should be turn of the tide in the Nigerian Educational System.
In this paper therefore, the following will be addressed:
 The Concept of Education;
 The Nigerian System of Education and the Challenges;
 Active Learning and its Constituents.
 Importance of Active Learning.
 Examples of Active Learning Strategies Incorporated into the classroom to create
Excitement and Promote Learning;
 Some of my Research findings on Active Learning Strategies;
 Barriers to Active Learning and Overcoming them;
 Recommendations and conclusions.
Education controls the development of any nation because no nation can rise above the products of
its educational system (Ikoro 2005). The essence of education at any level is to produce
knowledgeable, skilled and productive individual with a sound mind. The knowledge gained through
education should be lasting, it should be utilised by the students throughout the lifetime. Orr (1991)
asserts that:
“The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s
person. Subject matter is simply the tool. Much as one would use a
hammer and chisel to carve a block of marble, one uses ideas and
knowledge to forge one’s own personhood. For the most part we
labour under a confusion of ends and means, thinking that the goal
of education is to stuff all kinds of arts, techniques, methods, and
information into the student’s mind, regardless of how and with what
effect it will be used”.
Likewise, Newman (2008) affirms that “any kind of knowledge, if it be really such, is its own reward.
So, the pursuit of knowledge should not be looked at in terms of what it is going to do for you in
the future. It should be looked at as beneficial in itself. Knowledge is something that you gain that
cannot be taken away from you”.
This is clearly indicated in the Nigeria Philosophy of Education (2004) which is based on the
integration of the individual into a sound and effective citizenry and equal educational opportunities
for all citizens of the nation at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels – a meaningful and
achievable philosophy of education which is geared toward learning in a changing environment and
suitable for the progress of the country. A pertinent question here is “How far has the Nigerian
educational system implemented this omnibus philosophy of education to ensure that students are
learning in a changing environment?
Nigeria, a developing country for the past 52 years after her inderpendence has been facing
economic, social, political and educational challenges (Adegoke, 1998; Adomi 2005a; Buaari 2002;
Okwudishu 2005; Plante and Beattie 2004). The educational challenges led to the introduction of
different reforms in the educational system and switching from the 6-5-2 3 to 6-3-3-4 to 9-3-4. The
reforms were designed to bring about developments in areas of needs through infusion of modern
methods of teaching and curriculum implementation as indicated by the Federal Government of
Nigeria, in the National Policy on Education (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). Infact, the
Nigerian government recognizes the prominent role of ICTs (Information and Communication
Technologies) in the modern world and tries to integrate it into educational system. To actualize this
goal, the document states that government will provide basic infrastructure and training at the
primary school. The Federal Ministry of Education launched an ICT-driven project known as
School Net ( ) (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2006; Adomi 2005; Okebukola, 2004),
which was intended to equip all schools in Nigeria with computers and communication
However, this seems to be an illusion as indicated in the reports by many investigators that this was
never implemented. For intance Adomi and Kpangban (2010) in their investigation of the causes of
low level of ICT application in Nigerian high schools found that “Limited/poor informa tion
infrastructure” ranks first; “Lack of/inadequate ICT facilities in schools” ranks second as earlier
found by Okwudishu (2005); Plante and Beattie (2004) “Frequent electricity interruption” ranks
third as reported earlier by Adomi, (2005a); Adomi, Omodeko, and Otole, (2004); Adomi, Okiy, and
Ruteyan, (2003). This makes the few schools with ICT facilities unable to use them regularly. “Poor
ICT policy/project implementation strategy” was also indicated as a factor. Additionally, a growing
body of ERNWACA (Educational Research For West and Central Africa) researchers also reported
that the quality of basic education in Nigeria is still threatened because of failure to plan, under
funding or mismanagement of funds, poor maintenance culture and politicisation of educational
policies and programmes (Adegoke 1998). Similarly, Busari (2002) observed that the present
situation in the classrooms is not tailored to laying a sound basis for scientific and reflective thinking
which is one of the aims of primary education. It was suggested that science teacher education
programme should be restructured to accommodate integrative learning strategies. Specifically,
education constitutes of a major focus because it is believed that education is an instrument of
national development and thus, it could be employed to achieve political, economic and social
developments. The development of any nation requires the collective efforts of its citizens and all
The formal education system in Nigeria includes:
 6 years of primary schooling
 3 years of junior secondary schooling
 3 years of senior secondary schooling, and
 4 years of university education, finally directing toward a bachelor’s level degree in the
majority of the courses.
The primary, secondary and post secondary levels had witnessed dramatic growth and tremendous
changes. Today, at the university level, what used to be five universities between 1948 and 1965 had
increased rapidly to 107 universities in 2012 (2012 University Web Ranking) catering for millons of
students. Such growth was impossible without incurring a host of problems, several of which were
so severe as to endanger the entire system of education as outlined in the Section 1 sub-section 4 of
the Nigeria’s Philosophy of Education (2004) that:
a) Education is an instrument for national development; in this end, the formulation of ideas, their
integration for national development and the interaction of persons and ideas are all aspects of
b) Education fosters the worth and development of the individual, for each individual’s sake,
and for the general development of the society;
c) Every Nigerian child shall have the right to equal educational opportunities irrespective of any real
or imagined disabilities, each according to his or her ability;
d) There is need for functional education for the promotion of a progressive, united Nigeria; to this
end, school programmes need to be relevant, practical, and comprehensive, while interest and ability
should determine the individual’s direction in education.(FRN, 2004).
Ubong (2011) analysed these omnibus provisions of what should be the country’s philosophy of
education stated above and their corresponding philosophical concepts thus:
 Dewey’s multiple approaches to education delivery in a);
 Humanism in b);
 Egalitarianism in c);
 Progressivism, pragmatism, and individualism cum humanism in d).
Similarly, the Section 1 sub-section 5 of the Nigeria’s National Philosophy of Education, is based on:
a) the development of the individual into a sound and effective citizen;
b) the full integration of the individual into the community, and
c) the provision of equal access to educational opportunities for all citizens of the country at the
primary, secondary, and tertiary levels both inside and outside the formal school system.
Similar to Ubong’s (2011) observation, these philosophical statements also have theoretical links to
the different learning/developmental theories by Skinner, Thorndike, Piaget, Vygotsky, Pavlov,
Watson and Information Processing Model which addressed the various strategies of actively
engaging and conditioning learners to learn and develop in a changing environment.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is still faced with economic hardship which increased the engagement in
nonacademic moonlighting activities among the teaching staff. Added to these difficulties were such
factors as the lack of books and materials, no incentive for research and writing, the use of outdated
notes and materials, and the deficiency of replacement of laboratory equipment especially with the
remarkable growth from the five universities in 1965 to over 1000 universities in 2012 . The
graduates produced and the quality of the certificate cannot withstand the changing environment. It
is no wonder that the number one university in Nigeria is ranked as the 1639th university among the
universities in the world (Ranking Web of World Universities, 2012). The few good students
produced continued to search for greener pastures and by 1990 the crisis in Nigerian education was
such that it was predicted that by the end of the decade, there would be insufficient personnel to run
essential services of the country!
Thus, the theme of this conference is timely; it is time to change from traditional method of
lecturing in our tertiary institutions and other levels of education to active learning in order to
improve the quality of learning that theis exposed to the learner. It is time to invest in children’s
education because “Today Youths; Tomorrow’s Leaders”- Kennedy (2012).
Investigators refer to active learning as anything that students do in a classroom other than merely
passively listening to an instructor’s lecture. This includes everything apart from listening practices
which help the students to absorb what they hear, to short writing exercises in which students react
to lecture material, to complex group exercises in which students apply course material to “real life”
situations and/or to new problems (Paulson and Faust 2010). Additionally, Chickering and Gamson
(1987) further suggested that for students to be actively engaged, they must do more than just listen:
they must read, write, discuss, or be engaged in problem solving. Most importantly, to be actively
involved, students must engage in such higher-order thinking tasks as analysis, synthesis, and
evaluation.. Paulson and Faust (2010) further distinguished cooperative learning from active learning
as covering the subset of active learning activities which students do as groups of three or more,
rather than alone or in pairs; generally, cooperative learning techniques employ more formally
structured groups of students assigned complex tasks, such as multiple-step exercises, research
projects or presentations. They also distinguished cooperative learning from collaborative learning
which refers to those classroom strategies when the instructor and the students work together in
designing assignments, choosing texts, and presenting material to the class. Clearly, collaborative
learning is a more radical departure from tradition of merely utilizing techniques aimed at enhancing
student’s retention of material presented by the instructor.
A close examination of the description of active learning shows the theoretical links to some
learning and developmental theories: Skinner’s Operant Conditioning Theory where the learner is
active, functional and operates on the environment before being rewarded; Pavlov’s Classical
conditioning where the learner is conditioned to learn and rewarded, Vygotsky’s Zoneof Proximal
Development and Social Cultural Perspective where the learner learns through the interaction with
the social environment and so many others.
Considering the components of active learning strategies, (Mantyla, 1999) posits that good active
learning activities are the same, whether presented in traditional or in online environments and
activities should:
1) have a definite beginning and ending;
2) have a clear purpose or objective;
3) contain complete and understandable directions;
4) have a feedback mechanism; and
5)include a description of the technology or tool being used in the exercise
He further suggests that when using active learning strategies, instructors/designers will want to
consider the following:
1) Can learners complete the activity independently?
2) Will they need specific guidance before or during the activity?
3) Will visuals or other materials be needed?
4) Will they need to collaborate with other learners?
5) How do the learners ask questions?
6) Will there be formative or summative evaluation?
7) What tools will be available to support the activity, including technology, resources, and
8) Should different strategies and tools provide multiple ways of experiencing learning?
(Mantyla, 1999.)
For the past decades, the majority of college faculties still teach their classes in the traditional lecture
mode in which professors talk and students listen, dominate college and university classrooms.Some
scholars have criticized traditional method of teaching and argued that it is boring and found that it
is one of the factors responsible for absenteeism among the tertiary education students around the
globe. For instance, in their cross institutional study of the factors responsible for absenteeism from
lectures among the 500 Nigerian and 500 Caribbean tertiary education students, Fayombo, Babalola
and Olaleye (2012) found that academic or school-related reasons such as “The poor teaching skills
of lecturers leading to boring lectures” top the list while personal, home and society related reasons
were also identified. Similarly, in an earlier study at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand,
Hunter and Tetley (1999) interviewed 168 full-time students about not only their reasons for not
attending lectures but also their reasons for attending and found that tertiary education students will
not miss lectures that were interesting and those considered important to their degree, those in
which there was a lot of material given out, those where they liked the subject content or in which
the lecturer was good, while those that they will not attend according to Gump, (2006) and Nicholl
& Timmins,( 2005) also, were perceived as academy-centred such as: failure to connect the content
of the lecture to assessment or the ‘real world’, unexciting and unchallenging lecturers. Thus, the
students are likely to miss lectures because they are not actively involved in the classroom activities
and the content of the lecture did not match the changing environment which are characteristics of
traditional lecture method.
Some investigators also reported that active learning is important because: the amount of
information retained by students declines substantially after ten minutes (Thomas, 1972); in those
experiments involving measures of retention of information after the end of a course, measures of
problem solving, thinking, attitude change, or motivation for further learning, the results tend to
show differences favouring discussion methods over lecture method ( McKeachie, Pintrich, Lin, &
Smith, 1987). Numerous researchers and national reports also discussed the use of active learning
strategies in the classroom as indicated in the following statements:
 all genuine learning is active, not passive; it is a process of discovery in which the student is
the main agent, not the teacher (Adler, 1982);
 students learn what they care about and remember what they understand (Ericksen, 1984);
 learning is not a spectator sport, students do not learn much just by sitting in class listening
to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers, they must talk
about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, apply it to their
daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves. (Chickering and Gamson,
 The sort of teaching we propose requires that we encourage active learning and that we
become knowledgeable about the ways in which our students hear, understand, interpret,
and integrate ideas. (AAC Task Group on General Education, 1988, p. 25).
 “One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it you have not
certainty until you try”.(Sophocles, 5th c. B.C.)
Regarding the need for active learning, some investigators also pointed out the limitations of
traditional method of teacing. Turner (nd) in her presentation on “Learning in a Digital World: The
Role of Technology as a Catalyst for Change in the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana”,
claims that traditional method has some characteristics/limitations because:
1) it does not meet the diverse needs of many learners with different learning styles and
capabilities as we have in schools today;
2) it does not cater for problem solving skills needed by students in the real world which
requires the ability to see a problem from multiple points of view by the students;
3) there is no flexibility in traditional method, therefore learnres are not encouraged to reach
their full potentials;
4) of rigid assessment, relying on written tests that cannot assess the full range of one’s
achievements and potentials.
Contrarily, Bonwell (1996) summarised the major characteristics/advantages associated with active
learning strategies thus:
1) Students are involved in more than passive listening;
2) Students are engaged in activities (e.g., reading, discussing, writing)
3) There is less emphasis placed on information transmission and greater emphasis placed on
developing student skills;
4)There is greater emphasis placed on the exploration of attitudes and values
5) Students’ motivation is increased (especially for adult learners)
6) Students can receive immediate feedback from their instructor
7) Students are involved in higher order thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation)
Hence the need for active learning, a learner centred method in the changing environment.
The techniques of active learning are those activities which an instructor incorporates into the
classroom to foster active learning (Paulson & Faust 2010). It is proposed that strategies promoting
active learning be defined as instructional activities involving students in doing things and thinking
about what they are doing (Chickering & Gamson 1987).
In The University of the West Indies, CaveHill Campus, the University authority recognised the
need for learners to be active in the classroom and be actively engaged therefore, lecturers have been
encouraged to undergo the Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (CUTL) Training to
improve their teaching skills so that they can use the active learning techniques and consequently be
more effective in classroom teaching. I incorporated some of these techniques into the classroom
activities during the Developmental Psychology II (97 students) and Learning Theory and Practice
lecture (178 students) lectures to make my psychology students active in the class, to create
excitement and also promote learning. These various techniques of active learning have been
described and categoriosed in different ways by the researchers. Below are some examples of active
learning strategies that I incorporated into my lectures to make learning fun and at the same time
promote it.The examples of active learning strategies that can be adapted in the classroom included
those categorised by Paulson and Faust (2010)but not limited to:
1) Cooperative Learning Exercises: For more complex projects, where many heads are better
than one or two, students may work in groups of three or more. As the term “cooperative learning”
suggests, students working in groups will help each other to learn. Generally, it is better to form
heterogeneous groups (with regard to gender, ethnicity, and academic performance), particularly
when the groups will be working together over time or on complex projects; however, some of these
techniques work well with spontaneously formed groups. Cooperative groups encourage discussion
of problem solving techniques (“Should we try this?” etc.), and avoid the embarrassment of students
who have not yet mastered all of the skills required.
 Role Playing- Here students are asked to “act out” a part. In doing so, they get a better
idea of the concepts and theories being discussed. Role-playing exercises can range from
simple distinguishing concepts such as “positive reinforcement”, “negative reinforcement”,
“punishment” etc as done in my Learning Theory and Practice class to the complex role
plays of different parental styles of childrearing and their contributions to the social
development during the childhood stage as role-played in my Developmental Psychology
 Game Show- Many will discard the idea that one would literally play games in a university
setting, but occasionally there is no better instructional tool. This strategy is good for late
lectures, for young and old students in full time or part time programmes. My courses were
usually between 7pm and 9pm when many students will be very tired and even hungry, but
when it’s game time they wake up and participate in the lecture. The game show helps to
stimulate their sensory abilities, make them to be actively engaged and at the same time learn.
In particular, there are some concepts or theories which are more easily illustrated than
discussed and in these cases, a well-conceived game may convey the idea more readily. For
example, students may be introduced to new concepts or facts that are hard to convey
through lectures.
 Cooperative Groups in Class/ Group Discussions – The instructor may pose a question
to be worked on in each cooperative group and then circulate around the room answering
questions, asking further questions, keeping the groups on task, and so forth. After an
appropriate time for group discussion, students are asked to share their discussion points
with the rest of the class. The ensuing discussion can be guided according to the “Questions
and answers” techniques. This strategy was used effectively especially during the tutorial
 Panel Discussions- Panel discussions are especially useful when students are asked to give
class presentations or reports as a way of including the entire class in the presentation.
Student groups are assigned a topic to research and asked to prepare presentations. Each
panelist is then expected to make a very short presentation, before the floor is opened to
questions from the audience. The key to success is to choose topics carefully and to give
students sufficient direction to ensure that they are well-prepared for their presentations.
 Debates – provide an efficient structure for class presentations when the subject matter
easily divides into opposing views or ‘Pro’/‘Con’ considerations. Students are assigned to
debate teams, given a position to defend, and then asked to present arguments in support of
their position on the presentation day on topic like “Is learning incremental or insightful?”
The opposing team should be given an opportunity to rebut the argument(s) and, time
permitting, the original presenters asked to respond to the rebuttal. This format is
particularly useful in developing argumentation skills (in addition to teaching content).
2)Exercises for Individual Students:These techniques according to Paulson and Faust (2010) are
aimed at individual students and therefore can very easily be used without interrupting the flow of
the class. These exercises are particularly useful in providing the instructor with feedback concerning
student’s understanding and retention of the material. They are especially designed to encourage
students’ exploration of their own attitudes and values and to increase retention of material
presented in lectures and texts. Here are some examples:
 The “One Minute Paper” – This is a highly effective technique utilised frequently when
teaching to check students’ progress, both in understanding the material and in reacting to
course material. I asked students to take a blank sheet of paper, then posed a question either
specific or open-ended, and gave them one or perhaps two or 5 minute(s) to respond by
writing it down. Some sample questions for Developmental Psychology course include:
“What are Chromosomal abnormalities?” and for Learning Theory and Practice course;
“What is the difference between positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement?” and so
on. Another good use of the minute paper is to ask questions like “What was the main point
of today’s class material?” This tells you whether or not the students are viewing the material
in the way you envisioned. Additionally, the one or five minute paper helps to find out
whether the active learning techniques used during the lecture were effective or not.
 Muddiest (or Clearest) Point – This is a variation on the one-minute paper, when the
instructor wishes to give students a slightly longer time period to answer the questions at the
end of a class period or at a natural break in the presentation; e.g “What was the “muddiest
point” in today’s lecture?” or, perhaps, you might be more specific, asking, for example in
Developmental Psychology Lecture on “Biological beginnings”: “What (if anything) do you
find unclear about the concept of ‘Chromosomal Abnormalities/Genetic Influences’ (‘Traits’
‘Genes’, ‘Alleles’, ‘Chromosomes’ ‘Deoxyribonucleic Acid’ ‘Sex Determination’ ‘etc.)?”, or in
Learning Theory and Practice class, “What (if anything) do you find unclear about
“Information Processing Model Theory?”
 Affective Response – Again, this is similar to the above exercises when students are asked to
report their reactions to some facet of the course material – i.e., to provide an emotional or
evaluative response to the material. Obviously, this approach is limited to those subject areas
in which such questions are appropriate. However, it can be quite a useful starting point for
courses in social sciences and education, particularly as a precursor to theoretical analysis.
This is very useful because many students don’t like theories. For example, students in
Learning Theory class were asked of their feelings about Thorndike’s Theory or Gestalt
Psychology, before presenting what other theorists think of the concepts of the theory or its
applicability to learning situations. By having several views “on the table” before the theories
were presented, students can be helped to see the material in context and to explore their
own beliefs.
 Reading Quiz – Clearly, this is one way to coerce students to read assigned material! Active
learning depends upon students coming to class prepared. The reading quiz can also be used
as an effective measure of students’ comprehension of the readings to gauge their level of
sophistication as readers. Further, by asking the same sorts of questions on several reading
quizzes, students will be guided as to what to look for when reading assigned text. If you ask
questions like “What are the basic concepts in Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory?” (As
I asked my Psychology students in Learning Theory and Practice Class), you are telling the
students that it is the details that count, whereas questions like “What reason did Piaget give
for a child’s inability to conserve at the preoperational stage?” highlights issues of
 Clarification Pauses – This is a simple technique aimed at fostering “active listening”.
Throughout a lecture, particularly after stating an important point or defining a key concept,
stop, let it sink in, and then (after waiting a bit!) ask if anyone needs to have it clarified. You
can also circulate around the room during these pauses to look at student notes, answer
questions, etc. Students who would never ask a question in front of the whole class will ask
questions during a clarification pause as you move about the room.
3) Share/Pair: Grouping students in pairs allows many of the advantages of group work students
have the opportunity to state their own views, to hear from others, to hone their argumentative
skills, and so forth without the administrative “costs” of group work (time spent assigning people to
groups, class time used just for “getting in groups”, and so on). Further, pairs make it virtually
impossible for students to avoid participating thus making each person accountable.
 Discussion- Students are asked to pair up and to respond to a question either in turn or as
a pair. This can easily be combined with other techniques such as those under “Questions
and Answers” or “Critical Thinking Motivators”. For example, after students have
responded to statements, such as ” Learning is not mediated by ideas” with ‘true’ or ‘false’,
they can be asked to compare answers to a limited number of questions and to discuss the
statements on which they differed. In science classes, students can be asked to explain some
experimental data that supports a theory just discussed by the lecturer. Generally, this works
best when students are given explicit directions, such as “Tell each other why you chose the
answer you did”.
4) Questions and Answers: While most of us use questions as a way of prodding students and
instantly testing comprehension, there are simple ways of tweaking our questioning techniques
which increase student involvement and comprehension. Though some of the techniques listed here
are “obvious”, we will proceed on the principle that sometimes bears repeating (a useful pedagogical
principle, to be sure!).
 The Socratic Method: The instructor tests student’s knowledge (of reading assignments,
videos, lectures, or perhaps applications of course material to a wider context) by asking
questions during the course of a lecture. Typically, the instructor chooses a particular
student, presents her with a question, and expects an answer forthwith; if the “chosen”
student cannot answer the question presented, the instructor chooses another (and another)
until the desired answer is received. This method has come under criticism, based on claims
that it singles out students (potentially embarrassing them), and/or that it favours only a
small segment of the class (i.e., that small percentage of the class who can answer any
question thrown at them). In addition, once a student has answered a question they may not
pay much attention as it will be a long time before the teacher returns to them for a second
question. In spite of these criticisms, we feel that the Socratic method is an important and
useful one; the following techniques suggest variations which enhance this method, avoiding
some of these pitfalls.
 Wait Time – Rather than choosing the student who will answer the question presented, this
variation has the instructor waiting before calling on someone to answer it. The wait time
will generally be short (15 seconds or so) – but it may seem interminable in the classroom. It
is important to insist that no one raise his hand (or shout out the answer) before you give the
OK, in order to discourage the typical scenario in which the five students in the front row all
immediately volunteer to answer the question, and everyone else sighs in relief. Waiting
forces every student to think about the question, rather than passively relying on those
students who are fastest out of the gate to answer every question. When the wait time is up,
the instructor asks for volunteers or randomly picks a student to answer the question. On ce
students are in the habit of waiting after questions are asked, more will get involved in the
 Demonstrations with questioning (video clips). A video could be shown to the class to
illustrate some theories (Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive development) or abstract concepts
(hereditary transmission). This will concretize the theories or the concepts or the topic being
discussed and make it clearer. For instance, I showed videos during the Learning Theory and
Practice lectures to demonstrate in concrete terms the concepts of the different learning
theories and also the different stages of human development from conception to
adolescence during the Developmental Psychology lectures. In the absence of a psychology
laboratory, showing videos can help the students to have a practical experience that will aid
their understanding of the topics discussed.
 Student Summary of another Student’s Answer – In order to promote active listening, after
one student has volunteered an answer to your question, ask another student to summarize
the first student’s response. Many students hear little of what their classmates have to say,
waiting instead for the instructor to either correct or repeat the answer. Having students
summarize or repeat each others’ contributions to the course both fosters active
participation by all students and promotes the idea that learning is a shared enterprise. Given
the possibility of being asked to repeat classmates’ comments, most students will listen more
attentively to each other.
 Quiz/Test Questions – Here students are asked to become actively involved in creating
quizzes and tests by constructing some (or all) of the questions for the exams. This exercise
may be assigned for homework and then evaluated (perhaps for extra credit points). In
asking students to think up exam questions, we encourage them to think more deeply about
the course material and to explore major themes, comparison of views presented,
applications, and other higher-order thinking skills. Once suggested questions are collected,
the instructor may use them as the basis of review sessions, and/or to model the most
effective questions. Further, you may ask students to discuss the merits of a sample of
questions submitted; in discussing questions, they will significantly increase their engagement
of the material to supply answers. Students might be asked to discuss several aspects of two
different questions on the same material including degree of difficulty, effectiveness in
assessing their learning, proper scope of questions, and so forth as done for Gestalt
Psychology and they came up with these two different questions on the same topic; “With
reference to Gestalt theory of learning, justify the view that ‘the whole is more than the sum
of its part” or “With reference to Gestalt theory of learning, justify the view that ‘learning is
5) Immediate Feedback: These techniques are also designed to give the instructor some indication of
students’ understanding of the material presented during the lecture. These activities provide
formative assessment rather than summative assessment of student understanding, Formative
assessment is evaluation of the class as a whole in order to provide information for the benefit of
the students and the instructor, but the information is not used as part of the course grade;
summative assessment is any evaluation of student performance which becomes part of the course
grade. For each feedback method, the instructor stops at appropriate points to give quick tests of the
material; in this way, she can adjust the lecture mid-course, slowing down to spend more time on the
concepts students are having difficulty with or moving more quickly to applications of concepts of
which students have a good understanding.
 Finger Signals – This method provides instructors with a means of testing student
comprehension without the waiting period or the grading time required for written quizzes.
Students are asked questions and instructed to signal their answers by holding up the
appropriate number of fingers immediately in front of their torsos (this makes it impossible
for students to “copy”, thus committing them to answer each question on their own). For
example, the instructor might say “one finger for ‘yes’, two for ‘no'”, and then ask questions
such as “Is learning easily observable?”. Or, the instructor might have multiple choice
questions prepared for the overhead projector and have the answers numbered (1) through
(5), asking students to answer with finger signals. In very large classes like mine, the students
can use a set of large cardboard signs with numbers written on them. This method allows
instructors to assess student knowledge literally at a glance.
 Quotations – This is a particularly useful method of testing student understanding when they
are learning to read texts and identify an author’s viewpoint and arguments. After students
have read a representative advocate of each of several opposing theories or schools of
thought, and the relevant concepts have been defined and discussed in class, put on the
overhead projector a quotation by an author or a theorist whom they have not read in the
assigned materials, and ask them to figure out what position that person advocates. In
addition to testing comprehension of the material presented in lecture, this exercise develops
critical thinking and analysis skills. This would be very useful, for example, in discussing the
various types of learning theories.