This TIP will help you to understand the importance of relating learning content to real-life situations where possible.
Theory is perceived by some teachers as difficult for students to comprehend. Equally, many students perceive theory as hard to follow and dull.
Make theory real through examples:
- Remember the emotional element. Make theory real, using examples that mean something to your students.
- The trick is to tap into students' prior knowledge. Find something that is relevant to them, that engages them.
- Theory is often presented before the examples, but try it the other way. Theory can be effectively built up, after the examples.
- Deconstruct theoretical concepts and 'keep it simple'. Use repetition. Reinforce in different ways to ground the theory. Keep to three concepts per lecture if possible.
- Simplify complex ideas initially. You can build in complexity later, through empirical research.
Engage students in theoretical thinking
Think about using:
- Reflective journal (or log) assignment
- Shared journal
- Case writing
- Contrasting case studies
- Newspaper clippings
- Use of hypothetical examples
- Use of video recording/video clips
- Use of popular media/TV ads
- Guest lecturers
- Public seminars on topical issues
- Panel discussions
- Modular course with all day sessions for post-experience/MBA students
NOTE: Adapted from the Faculty of Commerce and Administration, Victoria University of Wellington
Whilst you watch the video, consider the following questions:
- Discuss the following statement: “The question is not whether knowledge and learning are situated, but in what contexts they are situated” (Putnam and Borko, 2000).
- Provide perceived advantages of using real-life situations in teaching and learning.
- There might be limits on the degree to which one could emphasise real-life application over theory building. What might these limits be?