The lecture is still the most frequently used method of instruction. However, presenting a lecture without pausing for interaction with trainees can be ineffective regardless of your skill as a speaker. The use of pauses during the lecture for direct oral questioning creates interaction between instructor and trainee.
Unfortunately, when classes are large, the instructor cannot possibly interact with all trainees on each point. The learning effectiveness of the lecture method has been questioned because of the lack of interaction; but it continues as a means of reaching a large group at one time with a condensed, organized body of information. Providing trainees with lesson objectives before the lecture will enable them to listen more effectively. It will help them to take concise, brief notes concerning the objectives rather than writing feverishly through- out the lecture. We discuss the lecture method first because the techniques involved serve as the basis for other methods of training. Those techniques apply not only to lectures, but to many other kinds of presentations in which oral explanations play a secondary, but important, role. Every method depends on oral instruction to give information, to arouse attention and interest, and to develop receptive attitudes on the part of the trainees.
Therefore, as an instructor, organize your oral presentations with the following techniques in mind:
1. Maintain good eye contact. As you speak, shift your gaze about the class, pausing momentarily to meet the gaze of each trainee. Make the trainees feel what you have to say is directed to each one personally. Your eyes as well as your voice communicate to them; and their eyes, facial expressions, and reactions communicate to you. Watch for indications of doubt, misunderstanding, a desire to participate, fatigue, or a lack of interest. If you are dealing with young trainees, you may sometimes need to remind them that they must give undivided attention to the instruction.
2. Maintain a high degree of enthusiasm.
3. Speak in a natural, conversational voice.’ Enunciate your words clearly. Make certain the trainees can hear every spoken word.
4. Emphasize important points by the use of gestures, repetition, and variation in voice inflection.
5. Check trainee comprehension carefully throughout the presentation by watching the faces of the trainees and by questioning. Observing facial expressions as an indication of doubt or misunderstanding is not a sure way of checking on trainee comprehension. Some trainees may appear to be comprehending the subject matter when, in reality, they are completely confused. Trainees who are in doubt often hesitate to make their difficulty known. They may hesitate because of natural timidity, fear of being classified as stupid, or failure to understand the subject matter well enough to explain where their difficulty lies. Frequently ask if the class has any questions, thus giving the trainees an opportunity to express any doubts or misunderstandings on their part. Based on your personal knowledge and past experiences, ask specific questions about those areas which might give trainees the most trouble. Some instructors make the mistake of waiting until the end of the presentation to ask questions. The best time to clear away mental fog is when the fog develops. Mental fog tends to create a mental block that prevents the trainee from concentrating on the subject matter being presented.
6. Instruct on the class level. Use words, explanations, visual illustrations, questions, and the like, directed to the needs of the average trainee in the class.
7. Stimulate trainees to think. Think, as used here, refers to creative thinking rather than to a mere recall of facts previously learned. Use a number of instructional devices for stimulating trainee thinking. Among those devices are thought-provoking questions, class discussions, problem situations, challenging statements, and rhetorical questions (a question to which no answer is expected). Another device is the use of suggestions, such as “I want you to think along with me,” and “Consider your reaction to this situation.”
DISCUSSION METHOD Discussion methods are effective in getting the trainees to think constructively while interacting with the rest of the group. Conduct discussions with large or small groups; however, small groups are more desirable. You can control and direct a small group more easily than you can larger groups of 10 or more trainees. If a group is extremely large, break it into smaller groups or teams with a discussion leader for each team. The use of the terms class discussion and directed discussion in this text refer to a method in which you direct and control the verbal exchange of the class. To use this method, first lay a suitable foundation for the discussion by asking one or more challenging questions. Then stimulate the trainees to discuss the basic questions; finally, guide the discussion to a logical conclusion. In the directed discussion, you act as the chairman or moderator. As a result of your questions, suggestions, and redirection of ideas, the trainees in the class become genuinely in- terested in exploiting all angles of the central problem. They forget the normal classroom re- straints and begin to talk to each other as they would when carrying on an ordinary conversation. A true class discussion requires a trainee-to-trainee interchange of ideas. An instructor-to-trainee interchange of ideas during a typical question-and- answer period is not a class discussion. To conduct a class discussion, you must make more extensive and more thorough preparations than you would for a lecture. Although the trainees supply the ideas, you must have a thorough knowledge of the subject matter to be able to sift out pertinent ideas. Be aware of ideas that may lead the trainees off on a tangent; steer the discussion away from these ideas. Guide the trainees away from irrelevant ideas and toward the desired goals without dominating the discussion. You can adapt certain ideas to discussions more easily than others. The most easily adaptable require trainees to compare, contrast, and weigh facts, concepts, and ideas. They also require trainees to solve problems, particularly those dealing with human relations, and to glean hidden or obscure information from scattered sources. To receive full benefit from the discussion, the trainees should have some previous familiarity with the subject matter. They could be familiar with the subject matter as a result of outside reading, prior Navy training and experience, or civilian training and experience. To help make the class discussion a success, arrange the classroom in such a manner that you are a part of the group. If possible, arrange for the group to sit around a table so that all of the trainees can see each other and you. Use the discussion method only when classes are small enough to allow everyone a chance to take part. Use the following techniques in conducting a classroom discussion: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Build a background for the discussion. The development of an appropriate background tends to focus the trainees’ attention upon the central problem. An appropriate back- ground also limits the problem to an area that can be covered in a reasonable length of time and creates interest in the solution of the problem. Ask thought-provoking discussion ques- tions. Ask questions to keep the discussion in bounds, to bring out the desired aspects of the main problem, and to guide the discussion toward the desired conclusion. Encourage the timid, restrain the talkative, and maintain a standard of discipline in keeping with the maturity level of the trainees. Be willing to accept, temporarily, an incorrect idea. A hasty “No!” or’ ‘You’re wrong!” can bring sudden death to any dis- cussion. Avoid expressing your own ideas until the trainees have had ample opportunity to express theirs. Summarize the discussion at intervals. Use the chalkboard for this purpose. Give due credit to the trainees for their contribu- tions. Clear up misunderstandings and emphasize correct ideas. DEMONSTRATION METHOD Use the demonstration or “doing” method to teach skills. Demonstrate step-by-step the procedures in a job task, using the exact physical procedures if possible.
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