By John Focht
The planning and development of a pedagogical strategy should be considered pivotal by the instructor to the overall success of the course. The importance of the teaching strategy provides the instructor with a sound strategy and approach to the course. A pedagogical strategy for invention and research should foster best practice strategies and continuous learning and improvement for the students of the class. Through planning, ongoing development, and best practices, a teaching strategy enables continuous learning for the students throughout the session of the course. The pedagogical strategy for invention and research employed in this paper is a strategy that will enable a path of written instructions, brainstorming, peer review, draft submissions, and revisions. This type of pedagogical strategy will enable a continuous learning process as well as continuous improvements for students throughout the course.
An effective strategy includes clear, concise direction and description from the instructor to the class. To avoid ambiguity in course assignments and research, a best practice method is for the instructor to employ a method of not only verbalizing the assignment, but to also distribute written instructions on the assignment to the class (White). Written, implicit instructions on the assignment to the class avoids possible confusion from the class or from a student regarding the assignment. Discussing the assignment with the class further reinforces the research assignment required. Written instructions on the assignment will also follow an overall strategy as provided with the syllabus where requirements around citation and sourcing, along with plagiarism policies and guidelines have also been articulated to the class.
There are many effective invention strategies that exist for writing which include forms of free writing, listing, as well as the six journalistic questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how) for defining a research topic (Invention Strategies). The invention strategy to be discussed as part of this pedagogical strategy is brainstorming. Brainstorming is an effective form of an invention strategy that enables students the ability to gather ideas, sources, and starting points for as many ideas as they can (Introduction to Pre-Writing [Invention]). A brainstorming strategy enables students to interact with other students and effectively provide ideas to one another in the development of the assignment. The instructor can help move brainstorm sessions forward by creating workshops in the classroom for the students. Creating a workshop provides the students an environment whereby they break into small sessions to discuss ideas; this allows students to analyze many different subjects amongst each other. The instructor’s involvement in the brainstorming is not necessarily from a teaching role, but from the perspective of a facilitator role. The workshop should be designed in a way to allow students to brainstorm topics, and not for the instructor to give topics. From a facilitator’s role in the workshop, the instructor will be providing the students guidance and assistance in the brainstorming sessions.
There are important points of note, however, with following a brainstorming approach to ensure its effectiveness. Depending on the assignment, an open topic of brainstorming may prove deficient in the student’s ability to learn some important aspects to writing (White). Edward M. White notes in Assigning, Responding, Evaluating. A Teacher’s Guide that with undefined topics, or open topics, the student’s may spend as much, or more, energy into selecting, defining and redefining a topic (White). An instructor providing a topic for the students to focus their writing on, may provide the student more of an opportunity to focus on their aspects of writing, and less on the attention of defining a topic. There is distinction, though, between instructors giving the students a writing topic vs. telling the students what to write about. Through workshop and brainstorming sessions, the students can discuss writing assignment possibilities based on the topic provided by the instructor. Through classroom teaching, the instructor can provide the student’s examples to help get them started in their development of a writing assignment.
Drafts, source review, peer review, and revisions are all best practice steps within a pedagogical strategy that ensures assignments are on track and ensures the students understand the research and writing assignment. Through draft submissions, the instructor is placing emphasis on the students to ensure research assignments are properly and thoroughly developed. Through draft submissions, continuous feedback is provided to the student not only on development of the research assignment, but on the writing aspects of the assignment as well. The draft submission provides the instructor the opportunity for source and citation review. If there are concerns on sources or citation, this enables the instructor to re-review with the student, or the class as a whole, proper sourcing that would also have been discussed as part of a syllabus review.
Peer review helps promote strong and effective communication within the class. The review allows peers to review others work and help provide suggestions and recommendations on improvement with their peers. But peer review also provides the reviewer with possible recommendations on their own paper, whether it be format, style, citation, or any number of examples. Peer review provides an opportunity to facilitate discussion amongst students on challenges and successes with their research assignment to date. Through draft submission, source review, and peer review, students have more of an opportunity to gather feedback provided and make the necessaries revisions to their individual assignments.
A strong pedagogical strategy is important to the overall success of the course. Having an effective strategy in place provides the instructor with multiple checkpoints to help ensure the students success. Through written instructions, brainstorming, peer review, draft submissions, and revisions, the pedagogical strategy in invention and research employed here enables a continuous feedback and learning loop between instructor-student as well as through student-student. Emphasis on best practices, in addition to continuous learning and development, gives the instructor more opportunity to review areas of difficulty with students or with the class as a whole. Peer review provides students an avenue to not only assist fellow students, but also provide themselves areas of improvement in their own work.
Brizee, Allen. Introduction to Prewriting (Invention). Purdue OWL. 8 June 2011. Web. owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/673/01/. The Purdue Online Writing Lab provides online writing and research services to instructors, trainers, and students. According to Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_Writing_Lab), the Purdue Online Writing Lab was founded in 1976 on request of the Department of English at Purdue to establish its writing lab. Dr. Muriel Harris designed the campus-based service to assist learners with rhetorical writing. Today, the Purdue OWL is available via the internet and is open to users worldwide.
The Hanover Research Council. Best Practices in Online Teaching Strategies. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. July 2009. Web. uwec.edu/AcadAff/resources/edtech/upload/Best-Practice-in-Online-Teaching-Strategies-Membership.pdf. The Hanover Research Council conducted a study to review best practice teaching strategies in online education. Their research and study provided an overview of principles, guidelines and benchmarks for online education; best practices in online teaching strategies; and an exemplary program and examples of effective practices. In part, the study stressed the importance of instructional and teaching strategies to an online education environment.
“Invention Strategies”. Illinois Wesleyan University. Web. sun.iwu.edu/~writcent/invention_strategies.htm
White, Edward W. Assigning, Responding, Evaluating. A Writing Teacher’s Guide. Fourth Edition. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2007. Print. Assigning, Responding, Evaluating. A Wring Teacher’s Guide provides instructors a guide in developing and designing writing assignments and evaluating student writing. Chapter 1: The Writing Assignments and Essay Topics provides instructors with guidance in designing the writing assignments and instructions on clear paths of communication, teaching, and evaluation on the students’ progress through the writing assignment.