A good speaker can cover the subject in the given amount of time, but to do so, there can be no questions from the audience and no deviating from the script. That is instructor-driven, requiring all participants to follow in step. Some will become frustrated at the pace they can't keep up with. Others become bored at the slow pace. Everyone must be in step with the instructor. That's okay when you have to get a lot of information out quickly to the group and you only have one chance to do it. That is not acceptable in the automotive classroom.
Rather than repeating everything in the textbook, class discussion revolves around reviewing the subject matter and expanding on the important and hard-to-understand concepts. A book just makes information available with no regard to whether it was understood. The same thing happens during a lecture over interactive tv. Most of us understand we can't see facial expressions, sighs, or fidgeting in their seat when a student is hearing but not understanding. The teacher becomes a book, not a facilitator of learning. This fad would be more effective if the presentation was a recording that could be paused and replayed as necessary.
After presenting the same "lecture" more than a dozen times, the routine flowed pretty easily. I had the luxury of a 4 1/2 hour class period every day. Typically, on two days per week, we'd meet in the classroom for only an hour, starting with questions to individuals about how their shop projects were coming along and how they solved any problems. Usually that led into a discussion that appeared to be unplanned but that was when I had their attention and interest. By letting the students direct the discussion, the atmosphere was one of friends interacting with friends where they felt safe asking questions. The other instructor liked to lecture two days per week, according to a strict schedule for the entire four hours, with a break in the middle, and it was understood there was not enough time to allow students to ask questions. It was the students' responsibility to keep up. That could have been handled with a videotape of himself. By only keeping them in the classroom for an hour or less, we still had plenty of time to drive or push cars into the shop and accomplish something of value in the remainder of the day. The other instructor had the perfect, rigid personality for a high school setting where the teacher sees a different group of students every hour. In a community college, an effective instructor keeps pace with the students, not the other way around.
While the students will have a lot of involvement in a lively classroom, it is still your job to insure the required material gets covered. If not today, so what? There's always tomorrow. On many occasions when students expected to go straight to work in the shop, I asked them to please join me in the classroom for just a few minutes because we didn't get to some important topic that is going to be relevant in their shop project. The atmosphere was still one of student led discussion, but it was my responsibility to steer that discussion back to the topic we needed to cover. The scheduled class times are the best times to hand out Notes Pages, but they are just as effective the next day after a short review.
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