To direct or to indirect, that is the question.

How direct can you be with your online students, especially from a virtual space? What is the best way to get your students to stay focused in your online classes? Is there a correct strategy for online students to learn course material?

Epository instruction, aka a direct teaching strategy, is a style of instruction that may be right for your students, and your course.

What exactly is expository instruction?

Yes, it’s direct instruction, but it’s beyond giving students the facts. According to this article by Dr. V.K. Maheshwari, expository instruction involves presenting clear and concise information in a purposeful way that allows students to easily make connections from one concept to the next.  Overall, this instruction basically asks this question: Do students learn new concepts and ideas better if all of the information they need to know is laid out before them?

What are the benefits of this type of teaching strategy?

  • It presents a rich body of highly related facts, concepts, and principles which the students can learn and transfer.
  • The structure of an expository lesson helps students to stay focused on the topic.
    • Aka, students do not have to make an effort to look for similar information because it eliminates this step for them.
  • Students get to obtain an organized view of the disciplines that they are studying.

At the very least, this strategy is more efficient for students (well, versus discovery learning). For example, it eliminates confusion, and distraction that may come from when students are discovering information, and determining which information is more important.

So how can you adopt it into your online class?

  • Start your lessons an with introduction and overview of the topic.
    • Provide a statement in advance of the instruction.
  • Arrange the content to be presented in hierarchically arranged sequence.
  • Be in control aka be the “expert” of presenting the subject matter.
  • Focus the students attention on key points of the subject
    • The use graphics, and diagrams is perfect for this.
  • Request students to read or watch a video pertaining to the material.
  • Provide students with concepts or principles, illustrate them, and provide insight to their conclusions.

In conclusion, incorporating expository teaching strategies is appropriate for online classes, especially, when cooperative learning is limited or isn’t available, and a teacher needs to maintain students interests and attention. Do you incorporate expository teaching or direct teaching in your classes?