The recent posts on “Devcompage’s new look” and “How readable are food recipes?” elicited scintillating comments from readers. A reader’s comment on the usefulness of running readability tests on VSU’s instructional materials was followed by an account of a devcom alumnus about his experiences in our classrooms. The chain of comments is worth reading as it brings to the fore some key issues about instruction — the readability of instructional materials, page design elements that contribute to reading ease, the need to ensure accuracy in textbook content, relevance or timeliness of content, etc. Equally important in classroom learning is the “feel good” factor which can be the sum of all these parts.

Interesting comments have continued to be posted or sent to me by email to build on the earlier comments in “Devcompage’s new look” which deserve attention. I’d like to invite the readers to post their comments on what they have done or what can be done to improve the quality of instructional materials.

Best practices

Through your comments, I hope we can pull together a compilation of “best practices” in developing instructional materials (IMs) and distill what works best in the classroom, training center or field. Results will be synthesized and presented in this blog. We can then share the results with university administrators, teachers, parents, students, future teachers, and others who care about the quality of instruction. Here are tentative guide questions. Tackle any of these in which you have an unforgettable experience or that which you are passionate about.

Students/alumni

  • From what type of instructional materials do you learn the most?
  • From which medium or media mix do you retain information more – paper handouts or PowerPoint presentations, a website? Why?
  • In this age of competing new media (cell phones, email, weblogs, podcasts, videocasts, etc.) how can those be tapped for instruction?
  • What has been your best classroom experience?
  • What classroom activities made you learn more?
  • What were the qualities of the teachers who engaged your attention and participation?

Teachers/trainers/resource persons

  • What sort of instructional materials do you give your students? Are these free or paid for?
  • How did you design your instructional materials to ensure that they are read by your training participants or students?
  • How do you make training or classroom instruction a worthwhile experience?
  • If your university is resource-handicapped, how did you circumvent that to “satisfice” and manage to improve the quality of instruction?
  • If you are not using information and communication technology or online resources in your classroom instruction, why not? What are the constraints in using a website or a weblog for instruction?

Extension specialists

  • What types of extension materials do you use to reach your intended beneficiaries?
  • Have you tried using ICTs to reach, motivate and teach farmers?
  • What are your experiences in the use of cell phones to provide agricultural advice to farmers?
  • What has been farmers’ response to ICTs?
  • What is the current state of ICT access among farmers in your area?
  • What are your difficulties when it comes to preparing instructional materials for extension?

Your comments will help enlighten everyone who is concerned about teaching and learning. Please post your comments.

38 Responses to How can we improve the quality of instructional materials?

  1. Monina Escalada says:

    Here’s an email from Carmille from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A:

    I really find your page interesting and helpful to a lot of your students. As a grad student here in the US, a lot of my professors have instructional materials posted on the web so students have 24/7 access. Aside from that, it also encourages students to utilize and take advantage of the internet for enhancement of their knowledge. We even have this site hosted by the school website where almost all professors upload their materials. That is one thing that should be considered for the VSU website — a tool not only for alumni and prospective students but also for current students and faculty. As far as I know, only a few of the VSU students get to visit the site as compared to Friendster, Multiply, mIRC, etc = ( I can’t even access it now when I googled it from here.

    Also, I would like to address some limitations: a) not all have internet access; b) internet access not only means access to computers with internet but also access to materials in the internet — a personal experience I had before during the conduct of my thesis and write-up of manuscript is that there are limited research articles that we can download from the net. This is a major limitation to me as far as related literature is concerned. I even proposed to some librarians if they could set up an account in ScienceDirect, Blackwell Synergy, etc that will enable students to have full access on journals (of course, financially it is improbable–but not impossible!).

    I had an online course last semester and basically all the materials are posted in my professor’s page. We get to download papers through his links, review class policies and be on track based on our online class calendar. We get to print handouts anywhere as long as we have internet access ….

    I honor you for initiating such useful tool for instruction. I hope professors in VSU would be like you, utilizing the internet for effective instruction. But of course, basic webpage design and sending emails (for the “not so young”) has to be taught first ;-) In the coming future, I know these will all be possible. The question is — when?

    Carmille

  2. Monina Escalada says:

    From Jill Almendras, sent by email, printed here with permission…

    Can we have a university seminar regarding the use of internet in enhancing instruction where you cite your success stories? Graduate Faculty who are handling extramural courses should be encouraged to attend.

    I take advantage of the internet in sharing articles that could reinforce their understanding of the topics discussed in class. Occasionally, I send my lecture notes through email particularly to my high school and undergraduate students. However, there were instances that they could not download the materials because they have limited access to the internet. They have to go to private-owned internet cafes. Unfortunately, there are only few internet cafes located near the campus. I hope that the University can provide students greater access to the internet.

  3. Carmille Bales says:

    As an undergrad student once, I have greater enthusiasm attending to classes with professors that are dynamic and open-minded. Most of my undergrad courses had either paper handouts or OHP lectures. During my last year, some professors started using Powerpoint presentations but only for those that have access to a computer hooked to a TV. Unfortunately, not all departments have that (including mine).
    Powerpoint presentation lectures indeed helped me retain most of the lectures (and saved me a lot of embarrassing yawns!). Handouts were used as a supplement for review during exams. When the school started having internet access, powerpoint slides started to have some color in it since the usual text + clipart are now incorporated with actual photos (e.g. actual chromosomes, DNA) which appealed more to my imagination and understanding about the subject matter. When animations and videos were presented, everything seems so interesting and sort of opens my mind to think way beyond the box.
    During my instructor days after college, I learned to improvise despite the old “yellowish” handouts that we have (which I have no idea how to improve at all!). I wanted to present a powerpoint lecture to a bunch of majors but I was limited to an OHP and a blackboard. But at least, we’ve got a TV in the room. That did not keep me from doing what I intend to do. I started thinking, “How can I use the TV for my lecture? Surely, I don’t have the time and technical expertise to create a video about our topic. Oh, I can create a powerpoint presentation but… how can I hook it to the TV when what we have are only 2 computers – the clerk’s pc and the one at the lab. Dragging them every day is way too much of a hassle!” So, here was how I improvised – I converted my presentation into individual jpeg files, uploaded them to my digital camera, hooked the cam to the TV… and presto! Powerpoint presentation ala camera effect! I even learned to create animations with that!
    I guess teaching is a dynamic profession, not only do we upgrade the course content but also the way that they should be delivered in the classroom (the actual plus the virtual one). My question is – can VSU professors upgrade?

  4. Derek Alviola says:

    On Adult Learning and Converging New and Traditional Media

    I just would like to share my research experience which tackled how to effectively use the Internet as an information resource for farmers. Feel free to send me your comments about my research findings. Just last year, I did research on ICT (limited to cell phones and computers only) use in Borongan, Eastern Samar for my thesis. I did a purely qualitative research using phenomenology and grounded theory as my means of analysis, on how people in my research community viewed ICT and on how applicable the new media were to both farmers and extension workers for agriculture and education.

    As I conversed with my respondents, especially farmers whose ages ranged from 40 onwards, they shared with me their hesitance to use the new media (high end cell phones and computers) for they found it not user-friendly and costly. They would rather stick to using the conventional types of media such as reading materials, radio, and television to seek pertinent information regarding agriculture. Most of my respondents even revealed that their children were the ones they asked to assist them in operating these ICT tools.

    However, as I persistently pushed to enrich my data, I came to talk with an extension worker, who also serves as a local farmcaster in the area, whose work is on popularizing technical information for the local farmers. I found out that most of his target clientèle were either having a hard time in utilizing ICT tools or were non-users of ICTs. The situation shoved him to devise a means to put across some important agricultural information found in the Internet to the farmers through his radio program aired early morning from Mondays thru Fridays. He even spilled to me that he continuously uses the Internet to answer some of the queries raised by his farmer-listeners.

    This unique case of utilizing ICT tools in Borongan puts forward the effectiveness of converging new media with the traditional yet commonly used ones. While the computer and the Internet are used by the farmcaster as an updated information resource, the cell phone, on the other hand, is used in facilitating two-way communication process especially in gathering feedback from his radio listeners.

    It is difficult to persuade farmers to immediately make use of the emerging media for this will require extra investment and proper training as well. But if extension workers are resourceful and innovative enough in reaching their audience, then there will be less problem in educating the masses.

  5. Eva Lapasanda says:

    Maam Moni, thank for the opportunity to share my experience.
    I frequently use PowerPoint presentations. An LCD projector and computer unit can be reserved in advance, but I usually use my personal computer unit. I provide handouts which my students could photocopy. Request for risograph in the admin is not always granted. Because of my experience that I learn more and enjoy group discussions/activities and demonstrations, I also apply it in my classes. I have not yet used a websit e or a weblog for instruction, but because of this brilliant idea from you Maam Moni, I will be trying it out. Thank you so much. God bless u!

    Eva Lapasanda – Leyte Normal University, Philippines

  6. Eva Lapasanda says:

    Another thing Maam that I remembered, I also show videos and films that relate to our class discussions.

  7. Cata says:

    As I see it, the characteristics of teachers affect students’ eagerness to attend and participate in class. I’m fond of attending classes with teachers who are competent and expert on the subject matter they are teaching, encourage their students, require analytical thinking, makes classroom discussion interesting, and open to any relevant ideas or suggestions.
    I learn most and retain more information from paper hand-outs because it does not contain elements that would divert my attention. On the other hand, I don’t retain much from lectures presented in PowerPoint (though more interesting) because it has certain elements that distract me. Instead of focusing on the topic being discussed, I am enticed to focus my attention on the visual graphics, clip-arts, colors, and photos it contains.

    Since there are students who prefer hand-outs over other media or mixed media, the quality of these hand-outs should also be considered (the material it utilizes in printing), and not just its content. Why use an old, brown or yellowish paper? As to my experience, these are heavy on the eyes and psychologically make me lazy to scan and read it. Why not use a Substance 20 instead? It is clearer, more understandable, and presentable.

    Catalino Hermosilla – BSDevcom III, VSU

  8. Rotacio Gravoso says:

    My use of instructional materials is based on my view of learning. I look at learning as a process of meaning construction, something that arises from context, and an activity pursued in cooperation with co-learners and even with the teacher.

    We implemented a project on hygiene in some communities in Southern Leyte. Among our outputs is a teaching guide aimed to integrate hygiene into the classes. For example, in collaboration with the teachers, we developed an activity for Grade 3 English and Science classes. This activity involves letting students arrange a set of illustrations on the possible effects of not washing hands before eating. In the class, the teacher will divide the students into smaller groups. Each group will be given with a set of illustrations. The class will be told that the illustrations tell a story. Students’ task, therefore, is to sequence the illustration to tell the story.

    After the groups have presented the story, the teacher will now present his/her version and highlight the need to wash hands before eating. He/she may clarify some concepts.

    We designed this and other learning activities based on our FGDs. We pretested these with the teachers and the response was encouraging.

    We can also make the class or training engaging and stimulating even without the use of illustrations, PowerPoint, video, etc. I use games. Based on research, it’s not the type of instructional materials or technology that spells the difference in learning; it’s the pedagogy that we apply that matters.

    For instance, to highlight the effects of population explosion on the sustainability of our food resources to school children, I employed a game called Pop Corn culture, I got from a curriculum guide, Project Learning Tree. Briefly, in this game, the class will be divided into generations (e.g., First generation, 2 members; Second generation — 5; Third generation — 10 ; Fourth generation — 15), depending on the class size. With a PopCorn (or Chippy in a plate), you ask each generation telling the members, “Get PopCorn as much as you can.” As expected, the last generation will be left with nothing! To process the experience, you may say that this is what is bound to happen if we will not plan our families.

    Inspired by these experiences, we attempted to develop learning activities for the science reporting class. We are still finalizing the activity guides.

    There are other examples that we can mention here. But the point of these is that, making learning fun and meaningful to students depends to a large extent on the creativity of the teacher.

  9. monina escalada says:

    Rotach, thanks for sharing your education expertise in this blog. Your comment has certainly expanded our mind set about the scientific approach to developing instructional materials. Games are fine but how do we teach a university course that requires changes in the cognitive and behavioral domains within a fixed semester’s time? Perhaps you can share with us some simple rules on what teaching materials/strategies will work with what learners under what conditions. What you wrote could be intimidating to those who are just guided by a few common sense rules and blind faith. We look forward to your seminars.

  10. Raquel Serohijos says:

    Maam Moni,

    Thanks a lot for initiating this very interesting topic on how we can improve teaching/teaching materials. I would like to suggest to expand the readers of your blog……..if possible, to include all faculty in the university. Just like the lsu alumniyahoo group. Is this possible? In this way, more, more and more will benefit and this will serve as an eye opener for the faculty (I hope ALL) to think ways and means to improve teaching styles and develop good instructional materials. I missed teaching a lot and how I wish I could be one of the participants in your future seminar to develop UPDATED instructional materials.

    MORE POWER.

    Raquel Serojihos – Iowa State University, U.S.A.

  11. monina escalada says:

    Gingging, thanks for the tip. However, I don’t have access to the lsu alumniyahoo group. Could you help me by sending them an email about Devcompage? Or you can email me their email addresses and I will contact them.

  12. Carmille Bales says:

    My comment regarding Dr. Gravoso’s entry:

    I appreciate the participatory approach of learning. Based on experience, I learn a lot from games and output-based processing of activities. But in a broader perspective, is this possible if you are teaching a class of 50-100 students? How about those GE courses like Biology, Chemistry, Ecology, Physics, Genetics…. and Math?! If we are talking about improving the university’s IMs, what approaches are applicable for these kind of courses?

  13. Efren B. Saz says:

    My take: we should also consider that our clients at VSU are tertiary level learners who are presumed to have the skills and maturity for independent learning. In other words, a teacher may not meet his/her class everytime, therefore, the issue of class methodology in a contact setting deminishes in importance. Also, in a situation where the learners are handicapped by language, the methodology calls for more than the conventional that works with native speakers. Maybe we (teachers) should also learn something on teaching “handicapped” learners, or teaching using a second language. It seems to me that we have presumed too much about our learners and about us teachers. With an open admission policy and a faculty mostly untrained on the art/science of teaching the results for both can be disheartening–high failure rates of students and high frustration rates of teachers. One practical step that the university can do is perhaps to seriously require an admission test for freshmen (This flies against our present problem of reduced applicants for admission); reduce the section sizes to allow teachers to more time to focus on individual learners; reduce teaching loads to allow teachers time to innovate and provide enough equipment in lecture halls and laboratories not to mention constant retooling of teachers. I agree with Rotach, the best teachers are not those who are using new gadgets per se. Its those who are creative even under the worst circumstances and lets face it, the most committed to teaching

  14. Marlon says:

    As much as we want know the problems of the IMs in the University, it still boils down on how the teachers uses them. I think, no matter how we strengthen these instructional materials, if the users itself doesn’t know how to properly use them, or take advantage on them, everything might be useless.
    Charged from my experiences, I had several teachers who actually make use of the facilities of their departments in teaching ( overhead projectors, televisions, computers, etc.). Their acts of keeping up on the fast pace development on instruction is commendable. However, I think some of them are too overwhelmed by the idea of these practices. They don’t consider how could they take advantage on them and put across the information, they want their students to grasp, in the easiest way possible.
    Take the use of power point as an example.
    Some teachers might be thinking that having PowerPoint presentations will be enough to make us students be wowed, interested and listen to the discussion. But it is not. The content of the presentation and how they organize the facts, incorporate images, videos or music , use of colors and how they present it, play an important role to keep us students listening and be interested on the topic. What I observed in most PowerPoint presentations of my teachers before, is that it comes in paragraphs instead of points. It was as if you’re reading from a book but was just presented in another medium. One of the things that I learned from my DC124 last school year is the proper way of doing PowerPoint presentations and other mediums; and putting everything on screen is definitely a no-no. I hope the teachers who do this will realize that they are actually pushing their students away from listening and being interested.
    My point here is, with our aim to improve the IMs, the University should aid the ignorance of these teachers on the proper way of using them as well. The university should do seminars or anything that could help them be more efficient teachers by knowing the do’s and don’ts in using specific IMs…

  15. Jojo Agot says:

    This is my answer to the original question posed above:

    1. PowerPoint keeps the audience awake but a printed version should be distributed so the students will have something to take home with them after the lecture.

    2. Handouts should have blank spaces to be filled out during the course of the lecture. If you give everything away at once, students won’t look at their handouts anymore. Filling up blank spaces will keep them busy and attentive. My experience tells me that I tend to remember ideas after I wrote them down even if I lost the notes. I’m not sure if it works with other people but I suspect there’s some connection between your mind remembering what your body did. If I’m not mistaken, this has something to do with the cognitive and psychomotor domains of learning- or something along those lines.

    3. Group dynamics, although widely popular due to the recent rise of constructivism theorists, are perhaps the most time-consuming activity in the classroom. This might be good for grade school level and extension classes but for college students, I would like to defer a little bit. As has been pointed out above, college students are presumed to have the skills and maturity for independent learning. Besides, psychomotor skills are covered in our laboratory classes so that particular area of learning is currently being addressed already.

    Personally, I don’t want to sit around people who are either clueless about the lesson and are just waiting for others to lead the discussion, or those who are too eager to let the world know how much they know. I once supervised a group where a man seemed to make it his personal mission to contradict everything the other person was saying. It was so exasperating that they turned in a mediocre result an hour later.

    4. Library assignments did me a lot of good when I was in college. I discovered things I wouldn’t normally learn if I was just told about them in the classroom and it broadened my interests in other subject matters. Sadly, many students nowadays would rather “Google” their assignments than go to the library.

    This is both a welcome convenience and an alarming trend. In March 2007, the cyber world was scandalized when word got out that more than 16000 articles at Wikipedia ( a popular internet-based encyclopaedia written and vetted by practically anyone who wants to) were written by a 24-year-old college dropout who claimed to be a tenured professor of religion with a Ph.D. degree in theology (Newsweek, March 2006). This blatant and fraudulent misrepresentation is so unsettling, especially that not everyone who uses the internet is aware which websites are reliable and which are not. For students who rent computers by the hour, clicking the sites that appear on top of the Google search is more convenient and time-saving than tracing webmasters and site owners. So here lie the dangers of misinformation.

    Are we now doomed to a democracy of idiots? Are we ready for “citizen journalism,” “wisdom of the crowd,” and “collective intelligence,” where everyone, qualified or not, has the equal chance to be heard? Are the days of “expert guidance” now a bygone era? I reckon we are suffering an overdose of freedom of speech. Journalists, professional writers, publishers, filmmakers, and broadcasters are lamenting the diminishing authority of their works as they are now being supplanted by self-appointed writers, bloggers, youtubers, and podcasters, and in the war for ads and revenue, the amateurs are winning big time! The problem (or maybe the advantage) with Wikipedia, in my opinion, is that it is user friendly, it almost always pops on top of your Google search and it has less pictures and colors so it downloads faster than other websites.

    This is obviously a dilemma not just for teachers but for the whole educational system of our country. In America, some schools have their own websites complete with recommended and trustworthy sources posted for students to browse. We don’t have that here so we are, unfortunately, left to our own devices to filter out suspicious materials. But how do you expect an average first year college student with limited computer and web surfing background (read: from a barangay without electricity) to do that responsibly?

    I bet this is a topic that calls for another thorough deliberation as this is happening right now in the classrooms. And an equally important point to think about is the familiarity of teachers with reliable online resources. What if they also get fooled by fraudulent sites? Ah, this is getting a bit more complicated.

  16. monina escalada says:

    I am grateful to the dedication of readers like Carmille, Efren, Jojo, Eva, Rotach, Jill, Gingging, and my students in articulating the key issues in improving the quality of our instructional materials. I wish our other colleagues would also share their ideas on what it takes to improve what some of us are paid to do full-time. So please keep the constructive comments coming.

  17. ella says:

    By happenstance, I was able to ask my friends who are college students regarding the IMs. Most of them said that the paper itself can affect their eagerness and interest in studying their lessons. However, one of them said that what can really affect her is the content. By content, she meant the welness of how the material was prepared, whether it was properly summarized or not. She said that a bulletized handout is far better than those with lots of gray mass. I also consider this true since it really facilitates recall of important items.

    In relation to the post on Best Practices, I think activity-based learning will pay a lot better than pure lecture. It really pays a lot when one will be able to learn from experience. What is experienced is what is best remembered compared to those which are only heard or imagined. I can’t believe that our AnSci 21 (anatomy)laboratory is like having another round of lecture. The consequence is that we easily forget highly technical terms because we haven’t seen them or held them (if that’s necessary). So, what happens is that certain topics are just something we know during the exams period and something we do not know the next day. (and to think that it’s anatomy?)

  18. Derek Alviola says:

    I wasn’t able to visit this site for three straight days and after browsing through the recent posts, I was shoved to leave a comment again. Whoa! This site is really a perfect avenue for critical thinking.

    So let’s get the ball rolling. First, I agree with Prof. Efren Saz that there is a high need to screen the students admitted in our university through aptitude examinations. It was just recently when the Department of Education decided to bring back NCAE to life. Whether you agree or not, Philippine education has been deteriorating significantly over the past years due to a number of factors. These include migration of excellent teachers to search for milk and honey, meager and dismal budget appropriation for the education sector, inaccurate textbooks distributed to public schools, teacher to student ratio, textbook to student ratio, access to new media and technology, conduciveness of public school classrooms for learning and the list goes on and on. A proof to our plummeting educational standards is the poor performance of our students in international achievement tests for both science and math subjects. Not to mention the diminution of English proficiency of teachers and students alike. Saying that the Philippines is the third largest English speaking nation in the world is all but a claim and a myth, in my own point of view.

    Aside from the exams administered by DepEd, often there is no other assessment means applied in most universities to test if the students who wish to enroll are fit to pursue the course he/she intends to take. This leads to future frustrations and eventually wasting the time and money spent by parents for schooling. Student screening will enable the university to cull the good ones from the bad. I understand the economics involved in a university’s large uptake of students but there are also associated issues such as retention and marketability after graduation.

  19. Derek Alviola says:

    Kuya Jojo Agot presented a very interesting topic about the danger of civic journalism especially that we can hardly trace the people who post and upload stuffs such as reading materials, references and the likes via the internet. I agree with him that democracy may not be beneficial at all times for the voice of the crowd may not necessarily reflect what is right and accurate.

    Therefore, it is the responsibility of educators, considering that we are left only with our own means, to help and orient our students on how to segregate reliable web sources from those sites that input suspicious and wrongly written articles.

    To be candid with you, my students find it easy to copy and paste articles from the internet to their assigned term papers and reports. This is really dangerous because aside from their inability to check the reliability of their web sources, they are also crossing the bounds of the law—plagiarism to be specific. What I did is that I reprimanded them and imposed consequences so as to cut this improper practice.

    You see, technologies may have astounding benefits offered to the people but it may also pose several perils and threats if we will not guide and guard our students properly. For me, still, nothing beats published books and peer-reviewed journals as academic resources but the only problem is that our university lacks access to these instructional materials for we seldom subscribe to international journals compared to huge academic institutions abroad due to lack of budget.

  20. Monina Escalada says:

    From Ryan Barcelo, by email, posted here with permission…

    While it is true that the University of Makati professors were astounded with my knowledge in research, I want to correct that my grade for my MPA Thesis of 1.2 was not the highest. My classmate, connected with the house of representatives, who worked on his thesis for 6 months, got a grade of 1.0 or 1.1, if i’m not mistaken. Yet among those who rushed the completion of their thesis manuscript (20 to 30 days only), i got the highest grade. I conducted the survey, analyzed the data and prepared the draft in just 15 days although the research proposal had been done a year ago.

    Thanks to xxxxxxxx for teaching us so well in research. As i have told you in the past, my adviser was shocked that i knew how to run the SPSS program, which he only learned to apply in his research work in MPA at Ateneo. With pride i told him, “SPSS is peanuts only in LSU. We were taught to use it by our research professor.” His reply was “Well, your training in research in the province is apparently much better than what is provided in Manila.” Indeed, it is. Because, i did not give him much problem in the finalization of the manuscript. He didn’t have questions with the data and the way i processed it and he only went through it thrice. then the paper was final.

    Ryan Barcelo, Makati Social Welfare Department

  21. Efren B. Saz says:

    I want to share an experience with a distinguished professor from a university I attended. This professor used old style materials and methods in his teaching. (At that time the microcomputer was not yet common and things like powerpoint and e-mail were probably only in their gestation stage. Despite the limitations at the time, I could see that the professor did more to help his students. He consulted with them in a very fatherly manner. He prepared tutorials on tapes (audiotapes) which we borrowed from the university learning resource center. In these tapes he explained the questions and answers in examinations. Therefore, one really learns more even by just going to the resource center.
    I guess my point is that one need not use sophisticated gadgets or make the paper colorful or make graphic illustrations for tertiary level learners. If a professor has them or does them then its a plus. The ball is still with the students. Interesting or not it is their responsibility to read, attend lectures, understand and critically respond. Our basic problem now is that people now seem not to want to read anymore and yet they want to score high and get high grades. Suppose in a literature class one is required to read Tolstoy’s War and Peace which is rather substantial. Then the examination comes and the students are asked to summarize and delve into the author’s personal attitude towards his major protagonists in the story. A student cannot use as an excuse the lack of illustrations or the fine print in the novel for it being uninteresting, therefore, not reading the material. My point here (do I have a point?) is, yes we have to make IMs interesting but interesting or not, it is the students’ job to be interested. The IMs are only teasers. They have to go to the original which may even be more uninteresting. Just asking, how many whole books of any kind has a typical VSU student read in the four years that he stays in the university? In a survey we conducted for students in Socio 11 about the books that they have read many indicated the dictionary. Wow!

  22. buen josef says:

    I agree with Prof. Saz. Here’s my comment from the student’s point of view regarding this matter.

    It is very advantageous for the students to have a grasp of these innovations in teaching like videos, Powerpoint presentations, transparencies, and other IMs to compensate for the regular class discussions of the instructor.

    But, let’s face it. Here in VSU, most of the instructors are not used to using IT in instruction. Instead, they are still used to providing handouts and OHPs to the students, or Powerpoint maybe. Most of the instructors are old and not that good in computers. Several departments in the university still stick to OHPs and mimeographed handouts. Maybe it’s because resources are meager.

    For me, as a student, I have nothing against the IMs provided by the course. I can still remember when I was in my first year here, that handouts and OHPs were provided in my Bio 11 class, same as other minor classes. I was sort of compelled and at the same time thankful that some of these IMs are provided so that I can now have something to study with. The handout was yellowish and the paper was poor in quality but for me, it was fine. To cut the long story short, I faired well in my grade. Hand outs are very helpful to students maybe because it gives students a hint of what will really come out in the exams. Their appearance are not attractive but they serve their purpose. Besides, it’s the students concession whether or not he will read it (in the end who will get good grades?).

    For students, it is really our responsibility to learn, or to make an initiative to learn more by researching (either thru Internet or library). For me, the instructors don’t really care whether we really learned the lesson or not. As long as we have good grades in the exam or pass some other course requirements, then he can decide whether to pass us or flunk us.

    In my experience, I even had a sermon from one of my former instructors (minor subject), maybe to motivate and challenge us, that back in the days, when they were still students, handouts were not even provided during that time. So, it was their responsibility to research on the topics and mind you, they even scored high. All the other IMs were not even developed during those times yet they still did well in class. Ironically, he said, that students nowadays are exposed to so much IT yet students have bad academic performance. He even said that we are lucky that handouts are now provided as well as these other IMs.

    The point here is that “man made technology but in return, technology made man”. This means that with the use of such technology students tend to be very dependent and lazy…

    Finally, the improvement of quality of IMs in VSU is very good. But we must also take into consideration the money involved here. “Upgrading” the instructors is also very beneficial but let us all take into consideration one factor – the students.

  23. paulo says:

    At long last, I again had the time to post a comment. ^_^…

    I would like to have a say regarding the improvement of instructional materials. Apparently, some of the departments here in the university are still using the conventional brown and rough paper for hand-outs of their lectures, to be photocopied or to be bought. Unfortunately, some of the texts of their hand-outs are slightly visible that the students sometimes have to borrow others’ hand-outs or ask the teachers for clarifications, then rest their pens on these words to make them readable. Some professors also utilize OHPs with transparencies nearly losing their readability. Well, I guess the administration should assess the different departments to find out whether the quality of their instructional materials is deteriorating or not. If affirmative, then they should give some financial aid for the materials.

    Also, different departments should also have the instinct to upgrade their materials for the lectures. Let’s not allow ourselves to be left behind. Let’s go with the flow of technology and digitalization. Anyway, doing so doesn’t mean that we are bragging or ‘pa-sikat’. Rather, this means that we are concerned and willing to improve our media of instruction. Do presentations in PowerPoint formats, but create them in such a way that the student’s attention would not be diverted to the background color or the clip-arts you added rather than to the content. Be aware of simplicity and color combinations. Use templates that are simple but not boring. Just add little ‘details’ on the sides of the slides. Use cool colors. This would surely entice your students to focus on the lecture. In the case of hand-outs, let’s now use some paper with ‘better quality’. Make them printed on white and smooth paper that is also durable. This would not make the readers’ eyes tired. And if possible, include videos relevant in your presentations. This would further broaden the students’ horizon of knowledge and interest. And this would also prevent them from falling into the pit of deep slumber, chat with their seat mates, have their minds on the air, or from secretly texting.

    But in this comment, I’m not saying that the students’ improvement in the academics solely depends on the quality of the instructional materials. This, still, greatly depends on the lecturers’ way of teaching and the students’ will to learn despite the lack of the ‘better’ instructional materials. Improved instructional materials are useless if the teachers are still ineffective, and if the students really do not have the ‘heart’ to listen. Professors, if they want to be effective, should be competitive and must talk with full vigor and dynamism. They should be really knowledgeable about their discussions so they could answer questions thrown to them with great confidence and without ‘eers’, ‘aahs’ or ‘uhms’. He should also be interactive to his/her lectures, and add a bit of humor to liven up the atmosphere and the ‘spirit’ of the listeners.

    Students, on the other hand, should strive for excellence. If you find something lacking or confusing about the lecture, ask your teacher. If you’re not satisfied, do extra research. Read more. Consult the Internet or library for other references. Your stand in the university and future greatly lies on the palm of your hands.

  24. Maria Anabelle Gerona says:

    It’s surprising because a lot has been going on in this page. Honestly, I feel guilty for not being a part of the conversations. So I’m inviting myself in. (I hope that is alright.)

    I agree with Paulo.” Professors must be competitive…”. I consider this a challenge. It’s been only 3 years since I started teaching. I never dreamed of landing in the teaching profession. In fact, I never wanted to become a teacher! You ask why? Because I never wanted to become the teacher I used to despise back in college. I never wanted to lull somebody to sleep in his/her seat while I’m giving a lecture. I never wanted to incite somebody to think that s/he was somewhere else while I am talking in front. I never wanted somebody to have sweaty palms when I ask him/her a question. These thoughts are just but a few of the monsters that I had to confront and grapple with when I found myself eventually “facilitating” students’ learning. The basic question I ask now that the wind direction has shifted is this: HOW CAN I GET THEM INTERESTED TO LEARN? I must know that I compete with other subjects. I compete with other teachers. I compete with other concerns of my students’ life. How can I encourage them to read a book on my subject? How can I lead them to think that being in the University is not a matter of getting a “3.0″ but a matter of understanding by heart and converting that understanding into action?

    I remember in one of my major courses in college, our professor used to “dangle at us a carrot”. Her way of encouraging us to maximize our learning from her subject is to “tease” us out that encouraged us to think critically, to find ways and means to solve a problem on our own with less supervision from her. She would give us assignments that challenge us to do research in the library. For fear that we will fail in her subject, that led us to sweat it out climbing to the college library and delve in books on Communication and Statistics. (At least, this was my case.) However, as it turned out later I was the one who benefited a lot. But what was my professor’s secret? The answer: she “dangled a carrot”. Her “carrot” made me learn. Her “carrot” made me think that she was concerned of my learning and that she was after of what I can get from her subject. She made me think that she was there to help me and that I should enjoy learning. I apply this principle now that I am teaching. LEARNING MUST BE FUN! That is the very essence of education and must be the battle cry of any academic institution. As a teacher now, I am being prodded to live by these thoughts.

    Meanwhile, I would have to agree with Buen that learning is NOT entirely a teacher factor or IMs factor but also a student factor. While it is a challenge for teachers to get the attention of the students by using attractive IMs and exhibiting dynamism in the classroom, it is the responsibility of the students to equally respond! It takes two to tango, they say. And so I would like to view the classroom as a dance floor. (Although, I am not a dance buff myself I do understand the principle.) There wouldn’t be graceful dancing on the dance floor if one of the duo has all left feet!

    Therefore, teachers must take on the challenge of getting their students to learn in whatever means they can (which may include scaling-up instructional techniques, removing barriers in the classroom which has created a chasm between the teacher and his/her students, creating a learner-friendly environment in the classroom, and going beyond the four-corners of the classroom) while students must take on the challenge of catching up following the same beat initiated by the teacher.

  25. Monina Escalada says:

    Anabelle, I truly like your dance floor analogy. To create a graceful dance, both teachers and students must know many dance steps. Beyond just knowing what pedagogy to use, the teacher needs to see where the students are coming from to make a good dance happen. The “one size fits all” approach won’t work all the time. Let me illustrate this.

    When I returned to the university after more than four years of communication research elsewhere, I was so enthused about sharing what I learned with students. Along the way, I met two bright but very challenging students. Both were pleasant and respectful kids with excellent writing and critical thinking skills but they were simply not motivated to attend class and perform the course requirements. They didn’t seem to care if they passed or failed. In the novel, Next, Michael Crichton would call this a “laziness gene” which takes control over certain individuals. What I waste, I thought. I also empathized with their parents who would have been happy to see them graduate and would no longer cringe at the social pressure in a small academic community.

    I thought that if I tried to just be a mother and understand where they were coming from, perhaps, I could get them to the dance floor and start a dance. What did I do? I showed them my sincerity, genuine concern and attention. When they dropped by my office, no matter how busy I am we would chat as friends and talk about places and things. For one, they were pleased to see this blog – ["the devcom page is a great idea Ma’am Moni. We’ll what do you expect from a great person like her?"]. I would also call them at home when they were late in submitting requirements and say, “I miss you, kumusta na?” They would reply, “I miss you too Ma’am, I haven’t worked on my outline.” On my trips, I sometimes bring them small “pasalubongs” like a hammock from Vietnam and a no-battery flashlight from 168 Mall to demonstrate that I cared and remembered them. Then one day, the unexpected happened. I got them to prepare their DC199 seminar which they had given up (surely not a teacher factor, Anabelle; it was just their refusal to do their thesis outlines and PowerPoint). They even observed the seminar dress code — smart casual attire. Well, the dance isn’t over yet. But one of them is working on his thesis and might just graduate in April. That will be the day. I hope I won’t cry.

    But I also had a student last semester who didn’t read much, couldn’t write a coherent paragraph in English, and was too cocky and onion-skinned about the comments I wrote on his thesis outline. He dropped out after he got back at me in the student evaluation. Well, since my batting average statistics as a teacher is on the high side, I considered that student an outlier.

    Well, my motherly approach is just my personal advocacy at my life stage. But, it might not be possible for a younger teacher who is torn between his/her university duties and the demands of family and home.

  26. mila c. bales says:

    I’m sorry for not responding or making a comment too soon. There are already a lot of issues coming in Devcompage. Through the blog many people in campus are starting to open up their minds especially on the issue of instructional materials. I think its not just instructional materials that we need to look into in the learning environment. Say for instance in the training environment where a lot of our faculty would serve as resource persons, we have to look into the level of education, cultural background across ages and many others among our learners. Your teaching and instructional materials have to match the kind of audience you will have.

    I can see that there is more challenge in training than in the classroom environment. In the first place, students whether they like the subject or not they have to study in order to have good grades. However, students nowadays are much different from the previous years because students before had the sense of responsibility, not to belittle those who are really doing their part. Today, students don’t mind failing grades. One student of mine said “sige lang og mahagbong naa pa bitaw next semester”. Do they need motivations to be more responsible? In training, participants have to be motivated and see the need for them to be actively involved in the activities. Otherwise, they will go home. Your visual aids and your teaching processes/strategies must be effective so that your participants will not get bored since their retention capacity has deteriorated compared to the young ones. Hence, the experiential learning approach using structured-learning exercises (SLE) is much more effective for adults.

    Yes I would agree to what Rotach mentioned regarding the importance of pedagogical principles in which case some of our faculty do take these for granted. I believe there is more learning in using experiential learning approach than just merely lecturing since more senses are utilized than just hearing or seeing but also touching and feeling. We also call this the “learning-by-doing” approach. The only drawback here is you need more time, a lot of preparations and a sense of creativity on the part of the instructor. The creativity thing would also include the preparation of instructional materials. This is a great challenge for all the faculty here in VSU!

    Thanks for giving me an opportunity to be a part of your network. God bless and more power!

    Mila Bales

  27. analou says:

    I agree with the comments stating that teacher’s competence or how they get their students interested is a great factor that could affect students’ standing on his or her academics. Truly, it is. I myself have experienced such situations where my own teachers don’t have the interest to get us interested on the subject matter.As a result, my classmates would often go outside the room to escape the monotonous discussion inside. And that makes their grades low.
    Likewise, I agree that it’s also the students’ responsibility to get interested on the subject matter. Students should also try their best to get the whole point of the subject. I mean if they want to have high grades, why not do their best to really understand the subject matter?
    But, the question still remains. How can we improve our instructional materials?
    Many said that it’s with the paper’s quality that matters. Yes, it is true. As a student, I also tend to throw my hand-outs, instead of reading them, when I see it’s not that attractive to read in. The result- I cram studying those highly defined terms. Speaking of those highly defined terms, are they not too technical enough? I mean, students have the tendency to stop reading when they encounter words that could make them “nosebleed”. As a result, they get low scores and low grades. Why not just simplify those technical words and make sentences easy to understand? That way students could comprehend the idea well without having any “nosebleed”. However, though it’s simplified already, it’s also better to have it printed legibly.

  28. Derek Alviola says:

    Since I am a newbie to the teaching profession, let me share with you some of my experiences that I find worth sharing with one and all.

    I was a fresh graduate and was immediately hired by DDC as a junior faculty. At first, I was so reluctant to be part of the teaching force for I never dreamed of teaching in the academe before. It was totally out of the plan. It never popped up in my mind that I will soon handle a bunch of students of my age range (some are even a year older than me) and act as the catalyst of learning. What a challenge to surpass!

    Geez! You should have seen me in my first few weeks in VSU not as a student but as a teacher. Honestly, it was so hard to adjust especially that the kids I’m handling now happened to be my close schoolmates before. I was a big brother to them in our student organization. Most of them are my chums. As I was trying to cope with some changes, I remembered the strategy applied by one of the youngest mentors in the department. She set the needed parameters at the onset of our course by orienting us with the class policies. She was strict to us when it comes to many things—deadlines, quality of class outputs, attentiveness in the class and so forth. No matter how stringent our training was with her, still, I consider her as one of my best mentors ever. I learned a lot of things from her and I owe her a lot. It worked for her, why not emulate what she did?

    At the start of my classes, I made it apparent to my students that they must set aside our previous relationship and consider me as their teacher when I am in the classroom. To be honest with you, I was so tight with them in my first few months in VSU. I can’t help but be stern to them for I was scared that they may try to eat me up considering that we are of the same age range and I am just a neophyte to this field. This led for some of them to become intimidated of me. But as the semester continued, I learned how to loosen the belt and consider their plight.

    Now I realized the beauty of befriending your students. Fear approach will not work at all times. It may work for some situations but nothing beats a student friendly learning environment. I agree with Dr. Escalada that there are some students who need to get extra attention from their teachers. Sometimes, we have to let our students feel that we are always there willing to extend our helping hands when they are in dire need. If students find it easy to approach, consult and interact with us, I believe this will facilitate the best form of learning ever.

  29. Cata says:

    I agree with Prof. Saz. It is a bonus to the students if instructors/professors improvise their methods of teaching (use sophisticated tools or make graphic presentations). Hence, we should appreciate and be grateful for their efforts, trying to cope with the flow of technology in spite of some circumstances (like the lack of know-how and unfamiliarity of such technologies) rather than criticize the improper way of presenting their discussions through it as well as using them. With regard to this matter, the University should recognize the need to conduct trainings and seminars that will improve or help these teachers ascertain the do’s and don’ts as well as the proper way of manipulating a certain technology.

    Likewise, it is true that nowadays students don’t like to read anymore. But I doubt if these students (who are idle to read) want to attain or demand a higher score or a better grade. The worse has come to its worst. As observed, the problem is not only students’ being lazy to read but also their being contented with having a passing grade. In fact, it is normal for some to get a grade of 5.0; and their common reason is, which I will quote “ Dili bitaw ni mawala ang Visca.”

    In my experience in Zhejiang Gongshang University, China, I learned and found out that the students of this university are very competitive, diligent, motivated, and are challenged to study because of their school policy — – that is there must be no 2 failing grades, otherwise they would be recommended to transfer to another university. I was just thinking, what if we had the same rule implemented? Could it be possible that VSU students’ would be more productive and would perform better in class?

  30. ella says:

    Cata’s suggestion on the school policy following that of ZJGSU, for me, is good. However ZJGSU doesn’t have problems on decline of number of students which we have, because they have more than 20 thousand students. Personally, I like that policy but as I have said, there would be a compromise to maintaining the number of students in the university. We know for a fact that the number of enrollees has plummeted downward.

    well, anyway, I am a bit off-tangent now. With regard to IMs use, I agree that there really is a need for some teachers to undergo some training on effective use of IMs. For me, the use of ppt presentations is fine. It is an innovation in the past that, for me, did improve teaching strategies. However, I have observed that some teachers today don’t know how to effectively use them. This also holds true in the use of transparencies. Some teachers put loads and loads of text instead of organizing them in a bulletized format. This affects interest and motivation. I don’t think we have to blame Powerpoint. i think we have to put the blame on how teachers use them.

    It’s true that most if not all students are now idle to read. Sometimes, I can say that we can’t blame them for acting like that since some teachers don’t motivate their students to read. The on-going situation in the university as i have observed is this: a lot of teachers, who find that most of their students are the lazy kind, tend to just leave them as they were. They don’t really indulge them to work that permits critical thinking from among the students.

    Yes, it’s true that there is also a problem in students’ habits. Since we already know that things have already gone this bad, I think the teachers will be able to contribute a lot in motivating students to act their part.

  31. Efren B. Saz says:

    There is also another important thing that has been left out of this discussion and I think this is crucial. Even assuming that a teacher uses the latest gadgets and presents the material well, see if the students are taking notes, or if they are, what kind of notes do they have. I think many of you will agree with me that many students these days go to classes with nary a thing on their hands. If they don’t take notes and the teacher does not give them copies of the lectures, they are in trouble. What you see are students who rely on handouts, reading them only when an exam is announced and memorizing instead of understanding these handouts. We know from Psychology that the act of note taking reinforces learning because one is forced to summarize and take away all the pulp so only the core remains. And you put question marks on points that you don’t fully understand so you ask questions or ask the instructor to backtrack, underline or double or triple underline those points which are very important, draw arrows to connect certain points or draw an hierarchy of concepts. Now lacking these skills how does a good lecture or a good handout result to better learning? In other words, the notes are the graphic representation of what goes into the head of the learner. If there are no notes not even the members of MENSA I suppose can pretend to record everything up inside their coconuts.

  32. Monina Escalada says:

    If they don’t take notes on paper and they’re not using a PDA (personal digital assistant) either, then something is wrong somewhere. The act of delivering a lecture and encouraging student participation will all go to naught if students don’t take down notes. In UP Diliman before, the office of student affairs used to conduct sessions for freshmen on “how to establish good study habits” and “how to take down notes in class”. In these high-tech days, perhaps we can add, “how to search information from online sources”. In short, these were tips on efficient ways to learn. Perhaps VSU ought to have those seminars to help our students.

  33. Carmille Bales says:

    “The most important thing any teacher has to learn, not to be learned in any school of education I ever heard of, can be expressed in seven words: Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” ~John Holt, in ‘Growing Without Schooling’ magazine #40

    “Education would be much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school every student should know how much they don’t know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.” *William Haley*

  34. ruzzel says:

    Oh my! It’s my first time to visit this page. It’s really interesting how both the students and the instructor could converge and sort things out.

    IM’s, the teacher and the student have roles to play. In my opinion the use of IM’s really makes learning fun and interesting.

    Handouts are also helpful, in fact I’m one those students who rely on handouts when I was still in first year and yes the quality of the paper used for the handouts inhibits me from studying. It looks old and dirty..and it makes me lazy. But if maybe they use the “substance 20″ kind of paper (or at least its white and clean) then it would make it more appealing to the readers’ eyes. To cut the story short a good quality of paper and a more legible font size of the reading material (such as the handouts) may also encourage the students to read.

    I’m not saying learning depends on the kind of paper of the reading material..sigh*

    The teachers’ positive attitudes toward IM’s is also important.

    I remember in one of our classes our teacher uses “manila paper” (I’m sure we all know what this is, it’s that brown or somewhat yellow colored paper) along with his lengthy lectures. He never attempts to make the class interactive. We would even skip his class. Lecturing is fine… but too much of it is boring.

    I want to share my thoughts on why students do not take down notes, do not read books (their own notes or the handouts) anymore. In my own opinion students need not to read their notes, books and the like because they are used with the kind of exams that does not require critical thinking. Matching type, multiple choice, true or false it’s too predictable. Who needs to read handouts when you can just “iniminiminimoe” your way to the end of the exam? Ah well some teacher have essays though. But If we assume that the teacher uses the latest gadgets and IM’s well and provides supplementary notes but still somehow something’s wrong. Then maybe the way a teacher assesses learning should also be considered. Maybe somebody here can teach teachers on how to assess students learning.

    I’m not sure if I’m actually making sense here..but I think that I may have a point.

    thank you Mam Moni for this page..^_^

  35. Jimboy says:

    Here’s something that could complement to instructional materials’ readability.

    Its about choosing font styles, specifically, use of serif and sans serif font styles.

    Although there is no absolute formula for what font style to use on specific material but there is an unwritten rule of typography to consider (especially for online instructional materials) for better readability and better quality of instructional materials.

    I will share a comparison of serif and sans serif font styles from the internet

    (Quoted from an online source)

    “The right choice of serif or sans-serif fonts can enhance readability and clarity of a document. Serif fonts tend to ease reading of large blocks of text, whereas sans-serif fonts are more prominent and readable as headlines and emphasis text.”

    Serif
    Serif fonts take their name from the use of serifs, small extensions that appear at corners and the ends of the lines that make up each character. Here are some quick tips regarding serif fonts:

    - Serif fonts are most suited to large blocks of text (like the body of text in theses manuscripts)
    - Serifs ease reading by helping a user’s eye to move horizontally from character to character
    - Result is that
    o lines of text stick together visually
    o easing line tracking, and
    o reducing a reader’s tendency to lose his/her place in a block of text

    - Serif fonts are less suited to applications where clarity is important, usually headlines or situations where text appears over a background
    o Serifs contribute to visual business and clutter
    o Particularly important when an image or pattern appears behind text
    o Serifs will tend to visually mix with details in the background, making the font appear less distinct and more difficult to read

    - For electronic media, serif fonts should be avoided for small text sizes
    o Computer screens do not have the resolution to cleanly render serifs bellow 7-8 point font size
    o Result is – badly rendered text that can be very difficult to read.

    San-Serif

    - Sans-serif fonts tend to have clean, simple lines, making them most readable in situations where clarity or emphasis is most important
    - The clean simple character shapes help sans-serif fonts stand out more clearly than serif fonts
    - This is particularly true when the clarity of the text is being reduced by use of styling (color, drop shadow, bold/italics, etc) or where it is being placed over a background image or pattern.
    Sticking with the most simple of fonts is probably a good rule of thumb.

    Some Rules-of-Thumb

    Don’t use more than 3-4 fonts on any one page.
    Don’t change the font in mid sentence unless you have a very good reason.
    Use Sans serif for online, serif for print

    Some examples of sans-serif fonts are:
    Arial, Geneva, Helvetica, Lucida Sans, Trebuchet, Verdana
    (Verdana is a font family that was actually invented for use on the Web)

    Some examples of serif fonts are:
    Garamond, Georgia, New York, , Times, Times New Roman

    ciao!

  36. Maria Anabelle says:

    To the students, something you may want to consider…

    I remember when I was in college I used up so many colored pens and highlighters. I used them to color my way through the pages of my handouts as I reviewed my lessons. I assigned a color for each subject and used different shades or tints of it (sometimes) for important points in lessons for each chapter. When I’m done studying you could just imagine how I’d ‘mapped out’ the pages of my handouts. At the margins or at the back of the pages also were my handwritten notes of important points I’ve gleaned from my teachers’ lectures. Understandably, the paper stuffs in my room would look worn-out because of the many colors and inkblots on the pages. I didn’t like the mess so I came up with the idea of sorting them into envelopes so they would not just lie around in my study area. The envelopes were also color-coded by subject. Usually, I used brown paper envelopes and just labeled them with colored papers. I placed those envelopes in one corner of my room so I knew where to find stuffs when I needed them and to not mix my stuffs with my sister’s since we shared a room then. We didn’t have a table in our room so my sorting helped a lot.

    When exam days came, I found the color-code scheme very useful. While there were test questions whose answers just pop-up so easily out of my head, there were several times that I found myself forgetting a concept I’d studied. This made me panic many times but when I survey the ‘mapped out’ version of my handouts in my mind again…Presto! There was the answer!

    Posted on my cabinet door was my To-do list. I usually used bond-paper sized stickies for it. I changed it every week or as often as necessary depending on my pace of accomplishment. I especially had to use this scheme because I juggled with school requirements and non-academic activities those days. I remember schedules became even tighter on my 3rd and 4th year so it paid to be always on track of which to do first and then next.

    I wonder if Psychology could explain my study schema especially my ‘mapping out’ of my handouts. But it sure worked for me. Perhaps, the colors helped ‘beautify’ my boring mimeographed yellowed handouts. It enhanced my retention of the points I needed to remember the most. It helped me remember relationships of concepts more since I linked concepts one to the others using color codes. You may not believe it but I found this especially useful in answering essay questions. Since some handouts were in bullet form the color codes helped me link, analyze, make representations, craft analogies and make pictures in my mind of the concepts I was studying. I’ve discovered this technique made my study work easier so later on I found myself converting my handouts filled with too much paragraphs to bullet form. So I did away with the boring black and white stuff and made my study sessions more fun.

    Why am I sharing these? You may try out my little schema. But what I want to emphasize more is that your performance in school does not really rely on the material used for your handouts it is on the kind of ‘material’ you are. I once heard a professor commenting on the kind of students we are producing at the University. He said the reason why we have poor performance in Board exams is that we have poor materials who are worsening their state by being sluggards wasting their time and their parents’ money. We may have the best kinds of instructional materials. We may have the best teachers. We may have perfumed special papers for our handouts. BUT, how we take advantage of those privileges is what defines us in the end. It is, therefore, just a matter of attitude.

  37. zee-m says:

    I agree with Cata’s idea about his view on the Power point presentation as an instructional material used by some instructors during their lectures, and also by the statement of Marlon that IMs must be use properly.
    Most of our instructor uses the transparency and overhead projectors during lecture classes. Mostly are on science subjects (biology, animal science, etc…). Oftentimes their IMs are highly textual. Some are not provided with visual images for further understanding of the students. We know that science topics are commonly complicated and difficult to understand (body systems, parts, processes, etc…). Illustrations might help the students understand more about the topics, but most IM’s in some classes only provide textual definition or illustrate things through the text.
    Comprehension of the students could be effectively attained if topics are supported with textual definition + illustrations + discussion. People are visual minded individual. There is great percentage of recognition and retention of a certain thing or topics if one has able to see an image on it. Illustrations also provide attraction to the subject. Maybe the power point presentation and other IMs can be more improve using different illustrations on the subject.

  38. lorelei says:

    Will somebody help me how to make an improvised instructional materials in science III. I want to have a model to get an idea of how it is being done.

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