Ten strategies VET teachers can adapt for their learning environments

A recent VDC newsletter article, ‘A toolkit of teaching strategies that power up learning’ (23 May), introduced the Evidence for Learning Toolkit published by Social Ventures Australia. This article introduces another valuable resource on teaching practice recently published by the Victorian Department of Education and Training.

High impact teaching strategies: Excellence in teaching and learning (32 pages) surveys ten teaching strategies that evidence indicates have a substantial influence on student learning. Like the Evidence for Learning Toolkit, this new booklet is produced with school education in mind. But as we observed in the May article, the principles of good learning and teaching that apply at age 8, 28 or 68 don’t vary much, even taking account of variations in learner readiness and learning environments.

The ten high impact teaching strategies (or HITS) include:

  • Setting goals
  • Worked examples
  • Collaborative learning
  • Questioning

The booklet provides an overview of the evidence for each practice, describes what the practice looks like when it’s effective, and offers examples of the practice at work (two examples for each strategy).

Questioning as an example

In the case of good questioning practice, the booklet offers a series of dot points for teachers to be conscious of, indicating that the strategy is effective when the teacher:

  • models acceptance and valuing of unusual ideas
  • provides stimulus materials that challenge students’ ideas and encourage discussion
  • asks questions that probe student thinking and prompt them to justify their responses
  • provides feedback and structures opportunities for students to give feedback to one another.

The booklet notes that how questioning is used depends on the learning goals and that good teacher questioning is planned and intentional. The HITS booklet poses this question for teachers about questions:

Is the purpose to engage, revise, challenge, encourage reflection and deep understanding, or provide the teacher with feedback?

Focusing on ‘learning styles’ is a poor use of teacher and learner time

The idea that individuals have preferred ‘learning styles’ is a persistent myth as noted in the newsletter on 23 May. There is no strong evidence that each learner has their own distinctive learning preferences. The Teacher magazine, published by the Australian Council for Educational Research, recently pulled apart the ‘learning styles’ myth and pointed to its dangers.

Recent articles that may interest VET teachers include: