This article describes innovative practices in teaching and learning. Innovative practices in teaching and learning have a positive impact on the performance of students’ diversity. The main aim of this article is to discuss various practices in teaching and learning which are considered innovative.
Keywords – innovative practices, learning, teaching.
Classrooms nowadays are exemplified by student diversity. The students in universities are diverse in different aspects such as culture, religion, family background, region, and schools where they have been studying (this is very important in the Indian scenario). Due to such diversities, students’ learning needs are also becoming increasingly diverse. A new challenge is to look for teaching ways that can address their needs. To respond to such diverse needs of the students at higher educational levels, different innovative teaching and learning strategies and methods are being used by the teachers in their classes. Since the last three decades, innovative teaching methods to deal with the diversity of today’s students are widely being used worldwide.
In recent decades, global trends in cultural and economic development have also brought forth reforms in educational paradigms. These reforms have been accompanied by changes in the ways educational practitioners or educators design the curriculum. Compared with subject-centered approaches, learner-centered and problem-centered designs are often described as having greater potential to impart to the next generation. Over the years, there has been a big change in the thinking process of educational theorists. Major policies are more concerned about equality of opportunity for education and employment opportunities for graduates (Teichler, 2004).
In all spheres of human life and society general civilizational trends of development, typical for the XXI century, strengthen themselves increasingly. First of all, this is a trend of convergence of nations, people state through the creation of common economic, information space, and considering the demands of the globalized world.
Worldwide government and private education institutions are focusing on the need of meeting the diverse needs of students, and they are more focused on learner-centered teaching. Teaching methods and strategies are more flexible now. There seems to be a close interrelation between the diversification and flexibility patterns of higher education. The more diversified and flexible the higher education systems are, the more they will exercise a universal access policy to meet the diverse needs of the students.
Characteristics of innovative education models.
To keep students from various sufferings a teacher should have a flexible and creative mind. Students increasingly demand flexibility from their institutions (McDonald & Reushle, 2002). Flexibility is a key factor in effectively catering to the learning needs of diverse student cohorts (Yorke & Thomas, 2003). In terms of how flexibility, variety, and choice might be achieved while maintaining appropriate standards, the use of technology, and a variety of teaching strategies, and choice and flexibility in the assessment are required.
Torres (2001) and King (2011) emphasize the need for better teacher training, in-service training, and preservice training worldwide, which has been reflected in conferences of “education for all” background documentation. It is very important to have trained teachers at higher educational levels who can use different innovative teaching methods by using their skills to make students get ready for future challenges.
The use of innovative teaching and learning strategies has been a hot topic for the last decade. Creative and skilled teachers are being found using different innovative teaching methods at higher education levels. Many studies consider creativity as a personal trait and intellectual ability of different individuals, associating creativity with genius and intelligence (Albert & Runco, 1999).
The focus of innovation in teaching and learning is based on the trust that every student has the capacity to learn and be successful in life. A teacher should perceive each student as possessing unique personality characteristics that can be more polished by using creative and innovative teaching methods. Having an awareness of the process of learning is very helpful for teachers to identify the problems students are facing in some of the subjects (Westwood, 2013).
Innovative teaching involves using innovative methods and teaching-learning materials for the benefit of students (Mandula, Meda, & Jain, 2012). According to Anderson and Neri (2012), innovative teaching and learning can involve virtual labs: learning activities based on real-life problems; learning environments with equipment, furnishings, materials, and audio-visual resources; and learning guides for students and the teacher. All of these are combined with methodologies that promote the use of active teaching techniques that help teachers develop their students’ learning abilities. The key advice to teachers and students from diverse backgrounds are to know and respect their students; offer students flexibility, variety, and choice; make expectations clear; use accessible language; scaffold students learning; be available and approachable to guide student learning; and be a reflective practitioner (www.lowses.edu.au).
There are many strategies, such as personalization, small learning communities, student advisories, multidisciplinary curricula, peer tutoring, peer instruction, and team teaching, which are used by teachers at different higher levels of education. They may be personalization, small learning communities, student advisories, multidisciplinary curricula, peer tutoring, peer instruction, team teaching, and so on. The rapid growth of availability and competence of emergent technologies have provided many ways and methods of making the classroom teaching the innovative one (Hussain, Niwaz, Zaman, Dahar, & Akhtar, 2010).
Runco and Albert (1990) say that the thinking of the children at all levels of ability is significantly influenced by the type of opportunities they are given. Offering learners the right chances to develop their cognitive and creative potential should be a priority in the design of curricula. A curriculum is a way in which domains of knowledge are made available to students (Craft, 2005), and it establishes a vision of the kind of society which policymakers want and envisage for the future (Williamson & Payton, 2009). To foster innovative teaching, curricula need to undergo a skillful and thorough development, where teachers can adopt different innovative teaching strategies according to the diverse needs of the students.
Students vary in their financial status, social class, family circumstances, and age; their previous educational experience, reasons for attending higher education, and aspirations and ambition; their religion, ethnicity, and nationality; and their abilities, disabilities, and special needs. The innovative strategies need to be implemented and should be modified according to the students’ needs.
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