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PLATO Program

The University of Mississippi

Adaptive Teaching Best Practices

Posted on: March 1st, 2017 by Patricia O'Sullivan
  • Flipped Classroom – This pedagogical model requires students to initially learn content on their own and then arrive in class ready to discuss it more deeply, ask questions to fill in the blanks where they struggled, and to apply the knowledge they’ve learned in learning activities in class. The rationale behind this model is that during class time, the instructor can teach at a deeper level or target content difficulties students have rather than teaching basic content students can learn on their own.Some students resist this model as it requires them to be active learners on their own time. The traditional lecture tends toward passive student learning in class. The flipped classroom is not a new idea, and evidence shows that when it is combined with active learning in the classroom in which student must apply or practice learning, it allows students to learn at the top of Bloom’s taxonomy, which leads to deeper learning and more retention of knowledge.
  • Completion of module before face-to-face session – Related to the flipped classroom, students should be completing the online components of the module before they meet in f2f sessions. In this way, they come prepared for the flipped classroom experience, but also, completion of the module ahead of a f2f class allows the instructor to view student data to see which learning objectives in the module gave the students the most trouble and which students may need extra attention during application and practice of learning concepts in the f2f session.
  • Flexible due dates – Giving students a range of dates to hand in assignments allows them more autonomy over their schedules than a system in which assignments are due at the same time on the same day. When students are submitting assignments to an online LMS, a due by date is a better practice than a due date.
  • Smaller class sizes – Classes with fewer than 25 students are ideal for a range of teaching styles, but they are essential to classes that employ active learning techniques and higher-level assessment of learning on Bloom’s taxonomy. High enrollment classes with a blended format can be divided into smaller groupings during f2f class times. For example, a lecture class of 100 students that usually meets 3 hours per week can be divided into 3 groups of 33 students that meet with the instructor one hour per week.
  • Reflective teaching and learning – Reflective teaching and learning are based on a similar concept of using courseware data to consider which techniques are working and which ones need to be reworked for better effectiveness. Teachers should always be willing to adjust to the changing needs of their learners in order to maximize learning and success. Some concepts are best taught through practice while others can be conveyed through a lecture. Reflection on the data helps instructors identify which teaching methods work best for each learning concept in the course. For learners, the meta-cognitive activity of reflecting on how they learn best can empower them to take more ownership of their learning and it can help them make adjustments in how they manage their time, study, and engage in class activities.