Teaching in time of corona

Prof. Dr. Thamar Voss and Prof. Dr. Jörg Wittwer of the University of Freiburg’s Department of Educational Science recommend formulating learning objectives, establishing lesson relevance to pupils’ lives, and encouraging engagement in the learning process to promote successful learning. They formulated these and other suggestions based on their teaching and instructional research findings on the question of how to teach effectively in conditions set due to the pandemic. The researchers have published their results in the educational journal “Unterrichtswissenschaft.”

Voss and Wittwer explain that teachers can make a significant contribution to their pupils’ learning efficacy in a home environment. Clear learning objectives that define what pupils should be able to do after completing the lesson have an important role to play. Learning materials and assigned exercises should be tailored to achieving these goals. Having assignments and worksheets presented so the content to be mastered has evident relevance and benefit to the personal environments in which the pupils live is an additional motivating factor. Providing examples in explanations can improve understanding of abstract concepts. Active engagement with content can, for example, take place by pupils visualizing it, keeping a learning diary, or explaining the content to each other, with types of group work simultaneously giving learners added incentive.

Beyond that, it is important that teachers constructively support pupils as they learn. Other helpful aspects are well-structured daily and weekly plans, or even direct feedback on learning performance in the form of sample solutions or individual assessment. The researchers recommend that teachers inform parents of their roles as well. Parents should be available to discuss problems, but not interfere too much or hover excessively.

The call for more digitization alone is meanwhile unhelpful, as Voss and Wittwer explain. Teachers can use digital learning tools, such as creating multimedia explanations or to give feedback. They can also open pupils to new ways to deepen engagement with the content to be mastered. Yet what remains decisive, say the researchers, is that even these tools must be used didactically in a way that best supports individual learning processes.

Original publication:

Voss, T., & Wittwer, J. (2020): “Unterricht in Zeiten von Corona: Ein Blick auf die Herausforderungen aus der Sicht von Unterrichts- und Instruktionsforschung.” (“Teaching in the Time of Corona: A Look at the Challenges from the Viewpoint of Teaching and Instructional Research”) In: “Unterrichtswissenschaft.”

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