What factors affect your instruction?

Last night in class, we had a discussion about the factors necessary to take into consideration when planning a lesson. These factors affect how you will deliver a presentation and the type of strategies that you will use in the lesson.

Number of participants

What are possibilities when the number of participants changes? What strategies can you use based on number of learners? It only makes sense that the number of learners present will affect how you deliver your lesson. Working with an intimate group of learners allows for different strategies compared to presenting to a stadium crowd. Smaller groups will strengthen specific strategies, and larger groups will make different strategies more useful.

Amount of time

How does the lesson change when the amount of time changes? How long will you spend on specific topics? What strategies can you use within the time alloted? Referencing the strategies in Wlodkwoski’s book, Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults, some strategies can not be used if there is not enough time. Some strategies need a lot of time to develop and add meaning to learning, while others can be accomplished successfully in minimal time.

Location

What can you do with the space you have? How is the instructional environment set up, and can you change it? While not impossible, it is more challenging to gather in groups if they are sitting in theater seating. Thinking about Extension, if you are talking about ranch operations, bringing learners outside makes learning more realistic and relevant than sitting indoors watching a PowerPoint presentation.

Resources available

What resources can you bring to bear? Do you have enough resources for each learner, or do you have to split them into groups? Are the resources as realistic as possible to the actual environment? Prior to World War II, the military was training warfare tactics using sticks as guns because there were not enough guns. Do you think this negatively affected learning? Rather than show a slideshow about a new piece of equipment, actually show the equipment, and letg users work with it in a hands-on activity.

Prior experience

What experience does your audience bring to the session? Is the lesson an introduction or another in a series? What is the make up of the group? Polling your learners in terms of experience is a great way to start so that you can adjust your lesson. You do not teach down to your learners, and you do not want to present material that is too far over their heads. The examples you use in the lesson also have to be relevant to learners in terms of age, race, gender, economic status, etc.  An example in class referred to the television show called “The Waltons.” Would today’s generation be able to related to the example? Also, can you leverage the experience of the learners to lead a discussion. What a learner already knows and what experience they bring to the session will affect the lesson.

Relationship with audience

Will you see the audience again? What you present to an audience you will never see again may be different to a group you work with on a weekly basis. With a regular audience, you can better tailor your lessons to fit their needs. It is a lot harder to do when you have no idea who will attend and what experience they have.

Putting together a lesson that leads to true learning when just focusing on the objectives is challenging enough. By adding these factors, the possibilities and challenges increase exponentially. Each factor provides educators with options, options that must be taken into consideration for the best learning environment.