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Shepherd.JPGTeaching Gero Videos

Faculty participants in the CSWE Gero-Ed Center initiatives often ask for more attention to pedagogical issues. The five teaching vignettes below are intended to assist you in teaching about gerontological issues within required social work courses. As occurs in most classroom situations, the vignettes exemplify both positive and negative teaching behaviors. Our hope is that these teaching illustrations serve as a catalyst for discussion among you and your colleagues about how to handle these and other instructional challenges. 

Descriptions of each video, with related Points to Ponder, are listed below (click on video titles to view each video).

Video 1: Conveying Course Objectives

Clarifying mutual expectations for the learning that occurs—what is the responsibility of the instructor vs. the students—is a critical skill, particularly given the current emphases on outcome measures of competencies.

Points to Ponder

  • What techniques did the instructor use to convey his goals for the class session?
  • How did he relate the course content to discussions that would engage students?
  • Is there anything that you would have done differently?

Video 2: Encouraging Student Autonomy

Students tend to learn best when they take responsibility for their own learning, and not expect “cookbook” content from the instructor. Fostering students’ autonomy, motivation, and curiosity to use a range of learning resources is essential in professional education where students must develop critical thinking skills.

Points to Ponder

  • What techniques did the instructor use to encourage students to assume responsibility for their own learning in that specific classroom situation?
  • How did she utilize field experiences to motivate students to promote learning autonomy outside the classroom?
  • Do you think her comments about APA style would promote students to take more responsibility in their current and future writing?
  • Is there anything you would have done differently?

Video 3: Facilitating the Learning Environment

An instructor must find a balance between controlling the classroom and allowing spontaneous discussion and unexpected learning opportunities. High levels of stress and anxiety can interfere with an instructor’s capacity to deliver the planned content and, most importantly, with the students’ ability to learn. A challenge for the instructor is to turn such stress about a course into lessons learned.

Points to Ponder

In this vignette, the students’ anxiety about the exam interfered with their ability to focus on the planned content.

  • What did the instructor do to deal with their anxiety?
  • To what extent did he illustrate skills in managing the learning climate?
  • Did his nonverbal behavior support his verbal actions?
  • Is there anything that you would have done differently?

Video 4: Providing Student Feedback

Effective feedback promotes students’ deeper understanding of the content—not just receiving a grade or complying with criteria. It creates a two-way learning process to motivate students to improve their performance. To be effective, an instructor needs to be engaged with the feedback—to have genuinely thought about it and spent time giving it. When a student is able to conduct a self-assessment and “own” the instructor’s evaluation, they are likely to internalize the feedback and really learn from it. 

Points to Ponder

  • In this vignette, how did the instructor ensure fairness in evaluating students’ work?
  • In what way did he show his concern with ensuring students’ learning, not just giving them an exam score?
  • What were the positive components of the feedback?
  • What did he do to communicate that he had really thought about and engaged with the feedback?
  • How did he try to convey the importance of understanding research?
  • Is there anything that you would have done differently?

Video 5: Supporting Diversity

Instructors have a responsibility to manage the dynamics, including conflict and misunderstanding, that can arise from the richness of diverse classrooms – and thus to model non-oppressive behavior to students. It is human nature to try to avoid conflicts based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Addressing such differences directly in a way that enhances all students’ learning is challenging for even highly experienced faculty.

Points to Ponder

  • How does the instructor address the different viewpoints regarding the situation on the city council?
  • Do you think the students’ felt that their concerns about race and institutionalized racism were heard?
  • How did the instructor handle the intersections of class and race?
  • How well did she respond to students’ non-verbal behaviors?
  • Is there anything you would have done differently?