Enhancing Large Classes With Active Learning Pedagogical Skills

Enhancing Large Classes With Active Learning Pedagogical Skills

Angelina Popyeni Amushigamo (University of Namibia, Namibia), Moses Huudulu Hidengwa (University of Namibia, Namibia) and Susanna Namutenya Herman (University of Namibia, Namibia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3949-0.ch018
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Abstract

This chapter is an account of personal experiences of lecturers teaching large classes at an institution of higher learning where a lack of active learning skills among students was observed. A number of challenges for active learning were identified including lack of facilities and large classes. The lecture method was identified as the main delivery method at the institution that led to students becoming passive listeners and not active constructors of knowledge. Additionally, higher-order thinking skills were not evident during lectures in large classes as most of the tasks required low-level thinking skills. There was a rush to finish the course outlines and to make sure that the number of prescribed tasks was given to students, which compromised not only active learning but also the overall quality of teaching.
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Background

Reform After Independence

After Namibia’s independence in 1990, the education system was reformed with the main purpose of improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment in Namibian schools. Learner-centred education was therefore introduced in the Namibian education curriculum in 1991 as “a foundation policy for the new educational system of Namibia” (National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), 2003, p. 1). Within the principles of learner-centred education, students are expected to actively participate and take more responsibility of their own learning. They need to learn in an environment full of democracy, so that what they learn should be from their effort of exploring, making some judgment, being innovative and taking initiatives on the subject matter (Ministry of Education and Culture, 1993, p. 42) by using available facilities such as technology.

The Ministry of Education and Culture’s development brief, “Towards Education for All”, was developed in 1993 to guide the stakeholders in education. Four major goals were set in “Towards Education for All”. Among these goals is “democracy” - that is, education should be democratically structured, which includes the democratic structuring of teaching and learning processes by the educator. The other goal is “quality”, which means that the relevance, meaningfulness and reasonableness of the teaching and learning processes, including the assessment of students are in the foreground. The curriculum, the teacher, the materials and the learning environment should all be of high standard and accord students to actively participate in the teaching and learning processes.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Assessment: An evaluation of the student learning.

Portfolio: An assessment tool through which a student provides evidence of his or her learning.

Active Learning: Learning where the student is actively engaged in constructing his or her own learning.

Core Skills: Essential skills that students should acquire and demonstrate.

Lecture Method: Teaching method where the lecturer does most of the talking during the teaching and learning process.

Undergraduate: Students at first degree level.

ICT Knowledge: The ability to work with technology.

Assignments: Tasks and responsibilities a student does in order to demonstrate what he or she can or cannot do.

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