I have been going to physical therapy for a bum knee. At a recent session, I overheard another patient telling the therapist that she had switched majors at a local college. When the therapist asked why, the patient said that all her classes were lecture. “I can’t stand it another minute! I need classes where I have labs…where I am doing something.” Wow! The path of this young woman’s life changed because her professors used only one learning strategy (lecture). Although I understand that there is controversy in education circles about learning “styles,” I don’t think there is any controversy about the importance of including a variety of teaching strategies in your classes. Interactive strategies take more work on the part of students and teachers, but increase retention of the material.
To prepare for a recent childbirth educator update workshop for over 70 participants, I struggled with how to present an update on cesarean surgery. I finally settled on a mini-lecture with PowerPoint slides followed by a game of Jeopardy to review the material. My PowerPoint slides are now mostly graphics. The “lecture content” is in the notes for the slides that the participants don’t see. To create the Jeopardy game, I googled “Jeopardy for PowerPoint.” It took some time to format the game, but it worked perfectly. I found song buzzers at the Trainers Warehouse that played the Jeopardy theme and the theme from Superman. I asked for volunteers to keep score and to determine which buzzer sounded first. I was amazed at how the participants got “into” the game. Not only did the game provide an effective, fun way to review the material, but when the participants struggled with a few of the answers, I had feedback on what I hadn’t presented very effectively.
For childbirth classes, I think a Jeopardy game on interventions would be fun (and effective). I’ll work on it and let you know. In the meantime, I’d love to know what creative strategies you have used – successfully or unsuccessfully – in your classes.