Investigating a Classroom

Introduction

I have chosen to investigate literature course for this assignment. I believe in the power of narratives. It is such as amazing experience to critically analyze characters, sentences, words, plotlines among others. This is the experience I get while undertaking literature class. Literature brings a new reality in every situation. Now, this is the joy of studying literature. Even with this amazing experience, I have realized that students either abandon the course or perform poorly. For this reason, I have decided to investigate the course. By the time I am investigating the course forty students had attended the class. The class is dominated by lecture method. The students in the class are sited facing the teacher. Majority of the students had writing materials and the majority were busy taking notes while the teacher was explaining the points. Five students had their writing materials but did not note down any points although they were recording the lecture using their phones. The professor seemed comfortable with this and did not question the students. Three students asked questions and the professor answered them immediately without discussion. For the first 25 minutes, the students were alert and those taking notes looked very busy. However, the rest of the minutes, the students seemed to have less interest in the lecture. In fact, five minutes to the end of the session, more than half the class had packed their bags ready to leave. During the lesson, the teacher gave out four interesting examples that I found very interesting especially in enhancing understanding of the topic.

Teaching Style

The topic of the day was genres of literature. Upon arrival in class, the teacher wrote down the topic on the whiteboard ready to teach. She greeted the students and they responded with a lot of enthusiasm. All students had arrived in class on time. According to the look in their eyes, they were all ready to learn. The teacher asked the students if they knew any type of genres. None responded. She proceeded to tell them that there are two main groups of literature genres, nonfiction and fiction. Majority of the students wrote down this. Although the teacher tried to encourage comments from the students, she did not give it too much attention. Whenever students took time to respond she went ahead to answer the questions she asked them. She started teaching students on nonfiction genres. Her notes were saved in her laptop and through a projection, she taught the students about essays, speech, and biographies. During this session, the lesson was purely lecture. The teacher spoke while the students took notes. After a five minutes break, the session continued on fiction genres. The first genre was drama. After teaching about drama, the teacher encouraged students to take two minutes to present a short drama. Two students presented a very interesting short drama and the class was all alert. The second genre was poetry. The teacher read an example of a poem to the students. Although the poem was interesting, it seems as of a majority of the students did not get its meaning and therefore did not find interesting. Those who seemed to understand it were excited. Other genres that the teacher introduced were short stories, fairy tales, fantasy, and horror.

While explaining about fantasy genres students asked two questions and the teacher answered them. While teaching, the instructor stood in front of the class because she needed to use the projector while giving the instructions which was strategically positioned in the classroom. Whenever there was a new word which was note projected, she used the whiteboard to ensure that the students get the spelling of the word. At the end of every sub-topic, there were three questions that the students were to attempt in order to gauge their understanding of the concepts. At the end of the topic, the instructor had five questions. She asked them randomly. Two students were unable to answer the questions which were derived from the topic studied on this day. The questions were directed to other students who tried to attempt but were not able to give the exact answers although they had the right idea. After the questions, the instructors divided the class into five groups each group with a membership of eight students. Each group was a given a question to handle which focused on one genre. The groups would then present the assignment to the teacher for marking. Some students walked out of the class discussing the content of the lesson while a majority walked out with the headphones on. This suggests that the approach used by the teacher, that is lecture method with few questions and takeaway assignment, was partially effective.

Student’s perspective

At the beginning of the session, the students seemed to pay attention. This was possible to detect from their eyes and ears that seemed alert. The fact that some were smiling and nodding their heads in responding to the teacher showed that the students were paying attention. However half of the session the students were not very attentive which even drove the instructor to give them a five minutes break. There was a two minutes discussion on discussion drama for a short presentation. However, a good number of students just faced each other taking that moment to stretch. There were three students seated strategically who seemed to very interested in the topic compared to others. I felt that the reason some students were more attentive is that they are probably very interested in the topic that no matter what approach is taken they would still afford to be attentive. For the others, could be they are just beginning to grow interested in the topic and they need a more effective approach that would help them be more attentive and enhance their understanding which triggers interest.

Personal perspective

I personally like the idea of participating in class. Listening to a lecture is very interesting. However, when learning new concepts, I get find to understand without participating by either asking questions or answering them. a love literature and when it comes to literature genres I have a lot of interest. There is so much to learn when it comes to all the genres. Some are confusing especially when it comes to categorizing them as fiction and nonfiction. This is what interests me a lot on the topic. Failure to understand the genres would make it challenging to be a good writer in future. This is why I interact with the professors as well as with other students to ensure that I fully grasp what is being taught in class. Apart from answering and asking questions in class, I would want to participate in class discussions, presentations, and demonstrations with a purpose of enhancing understanding. I feel that the instructor in this particular session was partly effective. If the lecture approach was effective, then all students would pay attention throughout the lesson. Again, the students would not be in a hurry to leave the class minutes before the session was to end. Just as (Bajak 4) argues, “teaching approaches that turned students into active participants reduce failure rates”. “Change it up every 10 minutes with more active teaching techniques and more students will succeed” (Bajak 1). It means the lecture approach.

Conclusion

Literature is very interesting. Literature is part of human life. With a great understanding of literature, it is possible to explain and understand humanity that comes with complicated issues. By understanding literature genres, it is possible to not only analyze but also write professionally. However, in order to understand concepts, it is important for instructors to use approached that are effective. In the class I investigated, the lecture method used in educating learners was ineffective. It is important that instructor uses more active learning approaches to ensure that learners grasp all content taught (Bajak 9). This approach includes the use of involving students in clarifying concepts to their colleagues, encouraging students to argue out a point and reach a concept, encouraging questions and answers, and assigning individuals and group questions to tackle randomly (Bajak 10). However, it is improper to replace lecture method fully with the active learning approaches. According to Tokumitsu (6), “lectures are not designed to transmit knowledge directly from lecturers’ lips to students’ brains,” Lecture method also has its advantages. For instance, an instructor is able to read the facial expression of students. With this, an instructor would be able to change an approach to keep the learners interested and focused. This is unlike some active learning approaches like group discussions where a lecturer would be unable to read every student’s reaction. In addition, “giving a lecture forces an instructor to communicate their knowledge in real time” (Tokumitsu 7). It is thus recommended that instructors use a combination of lecture and active learning approach for effectiveness.

Work Cited

Bajak, Aleszu, ‘Lectures aren’t just boring, they are ineffective too, study finds’ American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2014.

Tokumitsu, Miya, ‘In Defense of the Lecture’ Catalyst Journal, 2017.