How to improve teaching quality

Dr. Raghvendra Kumar has more than 27 years of teaching experience. He has a MSc. Ph.D., M.Phil. (Physics) and M.Ed. He has many awards to his credit, which include ‘Best Performance in Academics CBSE Principal Award’ by the Ministry of HRD, New Delhi in 2015 and ‘Top 100 Highly Effective Principal Award 2018’ by AKS New Delhi.

Dr. Raghvendra is currently the Principal of Dalmia Vidya Mandir, Rajgangpur in Odisha


Good teaching is defi­ned as an instruction that leads to effective learning. Which means, thorough and a lasting acquisition of the knowledge, skills and values the instructor.

Well formulated instructional objectives can help instructors prepare lecture and assignment schedules and facilitate construction in – class activities, out-of-class assignment and tests.

Write instruction objectives

Instructional objectives are statements of speci­fic observable action that student should be able to perform if they have mastered the content and skills the instructor has to attempt to teach.

Following are illustrative phrases that might be attached to the stem of an instructional objectives, grouped in six categories according to the level of thinking they require -

1. Knowledge (repeating verbatim)

2. Comprehension (demonstrating and understanding of terms and concepts)

3. Application (solving problems)

4. Analysis (breaking things into their elements, formulating theoretical explanations or mathematical or logical models for observed phenomena)

5. Synthesis (creating something, combining elements in novel ways)

6. Evaluation (choosing from among alternatives)

The six given categories are the cognitive domain levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives (Bloom 1954). The last three categories – synthesis, analysis and evaluation – are often referred to as the higher level thinking skills.

Perhaps the greatest benefi­t comes when the objectives cover all of the content and skills the instructor wishes to teach and they are handed out as study guided prior to examination.

Use active learning in class

Most students cannot stay focused throughout the class. After about 10 minutes, their attention begins to drift, ­first for a brief moment then for a longer interval. A classroom research study showed that immediately after the teaching session, students recalled only 70% in ­first ten minutes and only 20% of that from the last ten minutes (McKeachie-1999).

Students’ attention can be maintained throughout a class session by periodically giving them something to do. Many different activities can serve this purpose. (Bonwell and Eison 1991).

At some point during a class, the teacher can tell the students to get into groups of two or three. One group can be asked to question, while the other group can answer the questions. The teacher can later randomly call one or more students to present their solutions. Calling on students rather than asking for volunteers is essential.

Active learning exercises may address a variety of objectives. Some examples follow -

A) Recalling prior material - The students may be given one minute to list as many points they can recall about the previous lesson or topic covered in an assigned reading.

B) Responding to the questions - Any question asked in the class can be directed to group. Very few students will be willing to answers the questions even if they know the answers.

C) Problem solving - A large problem can always be broken into a series of steps such as paraphrasing the problem statements, sketching or ‑ow chart, predicting the answer or a solution, solving them or outlining a solution procedure.

D) Explaining written material (TAPPS- Thinking –Aloud Pair Problem Solving) - This is a powerful activity for helping students understand a body of material. The students are put in pairs and given a text passage or a worked-out derivation or problem solution. After 5- 6 minutes, the teacher can call on one or two pairs to summarise their explanations up to point in the text and the students reverse roles within their pairs and continue from the point.

E) Analytical, critical and creative thinking - The students can be asked to list assumptions, problems, errors or ethical dilemmas in a case study or design, explain technical concept in jargon- free terms, ­find the logical ‑ow in an argument, predict the outcome of an experiment or explain an observed outcome in term of course concepts.

F) Generating questions and summarizing - The students may be given a minute to come up with two good questions about the preceding lecture segment or to summarise the major points in the lecture just concluded.

Use cooperative learning

Cooperative Learning (CL) is an instruction that involves students working in teams to accomplish an assigned task and produce a fi­nal product (e.g. a problem solution, critical analysis, laboratory report or process) under conditions that include the following elements (Johnson etail 1998) -

1. Positive interdependence - Team members are obliged to rely on one another to achieve the goal. If the team members fail to do their part, everyone on the team suffers consequences.

2. Individual accountability - All team members are held accountable, both for doing their shared work and for understanding everything in the fi­nal product.

3. Face to face promotive interaction - Although some of the group work may be done individually with team members providing mutual feedback and guidance, challenging one another and working towards consensus is important.

4. Appropriate use of teamwork - Students are encouraged to develop and exercise leadership, communication, conflict management and decision-making skills. (This is very important and is a part of CCE).

5. Regular self-assessment of team functioning - Team member set goals, periodically assess how well they are working together and identify changes they will make to function more effectively in the future.

Some suggested guidelines to realise the bene­ts and avoids the pitfalls of cooperative learning are:

a) Proceed gradually when using cooperative learning for the ­first time.

b) Form teams of 3-4 students for ‘out of class’ assignments.

c) Give more challenging assignments to teams than to individuals.

d) Help students how to work effectively in teams.

e) Take measures to provide positive interdependence.

f) Impose individual accountability in as many ways as possible.

Cooperative learning is most likely to succeed if the instructor anticipates and understands student resistance and its origins, the forms it might take and, ways to defuse and eventually overcome it.

This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine December 2020 edition.