Which Teaching Method Is Right For You and Your Students?

Posted by on Aug 03 2015

When designing and delivering training classes for adults, there’s only one question to ask: What is best for the students?

In a student-centric model of training design and delivery, a good instructor knows that it’s not about what you want to teach, but about what (and how) the student wants to learn.

There are many ways to deliver training material to your students, but the two most important ones are the Lecture Method and the Workshop Method.

You’ve seen and participated in the Lecture Method thousands of times: the teacher gets up in front of the group and delivers the material, while the students listen and take notes. Occasionally the students ask questions. This works great when there is a lot of new, introductory material to be delivered and the students have no experience with the topic.

In the Workshop Method, a collaborative learning environment is established. The teacher uses hands-on exercises, Q&A, and discussions to help the student cement what they’re learning in a real-world environment and begin to apply it immediately. This method is ideal for adult students who bring a wealth of background experiences to a class, who need to apply what they’re learning to the real-world environment quickly, and need to stay motivated.

Is one method better than the other?

No. But the Lecture Method has the risk of being much more boring! An all-lecture class can easily put your students to sleep, especially if you’re teaching via teleclasses where they can’t see you.

Some teachers choose the Lecture Method because it allows them to be the “sage on the stage” instead of the “guide on the side.”

Smart teachers choose the Lecture Method, wisely, when there is a great amount of foundational information the students are required to learn.

Really smart teachers use both methods: the Lecture Method for the basics, then switching to the Workshop Method to allow students to process the material in a real-world atmosphere and apply what they’ve learned. This is especially helpful when you factor in that adults begin to lose attention and focus after 10 minutes of doing anything. Switching back and forth between the two methods helps keep student engaged in the learning process.

Here’s an example of how I use these two methods in a class I teach:

In my Marketing Planning class there is a lot of foundational information to learn about the psychology of marketing and creating a strategic marketing plan for your business. These lessons are generally taught using the Lecture Method, but I throw in some discussion questions and allow a fairly large chunk of time for Q&A. When we move into the lessons about writing your own marketing plan, we switch to the Workshop Method.

Here’s how I apply the Workshop Method in class:

  • I ask students about their specific situation and how they’ll apply what they’ve learned in class to their own marketing plans and campaigns.
  • Sometimes I have a student in the “hot seat” to talk about their challenges, and the rest of the students act as a mastermind group, brainstorming with each other to come up with best practices and creative solutions to problems.
  • I give them homework assignments that they can submit to me for review and comments, which keeps the learning going strong between class sessions.
  • Students write their marketing plan in a step-by-step format using a workbook I’ve designed for the class.
  • I ask questions related to the material where students fill in the blanks from their own life experiences. (You’d be surprised how much you know about marketing just by having been a consumer all these years!)
  • I ask students to debate the pros and cons of choosing specific marketing techniques.
  • I divide students up into smaller groups during class to discuss a topic and bring back their best answers to the larger group.

Getting your students active in their learning process keeps the energy high, keeps them motivated, and most importantly, keeps them learning at a peak rate.

And while you’re at it, consider this: When giving speeches, what if you combined the Lecture Method with the Workshop Method? Professional speakers, too, can spice up their speeches by moving away from the I Talk and You Listen model.  🙂



8 comments for now

8 Responses to “Which Teaching Method Is Right For You and Your Students?”

  1. Fred Mackay

    Hi, Karyn: I used lecture method for years because that’s what I grew up with. I find that I enjoy the workshop method more, and my students do, too.

    21 Jan 2013 at 3:25 pm

  2. Really appreciate you sharing this article.Much thanks again. Really Great.

    Brilliant way to explain things.

    22 Jan 2013 at 6:38 am

  3. Great article, Karyn.

    Another benefit of the Workshop Method is that the trainer learns, too. I pick up great stories to share in future classes, along with stories about practical application of the material I’m discussing.

    22 Jan 2013 at 12:56 pm

  4. Karyn Greenstreet

    Great point, LaCharla!

    22 Jan 2013 at 1:37 pm

  5. Liz Csiszar

    Definitely agree with your point of view! It is much more hands on in the Workshop method, and way more fun! Everyone gets the chance to learn something new. As well as, learn how to work in groups and express your opinion.

    22 Jan 2013 at 9:03 pm

  6. Hi Karyn. I’ve taught both children (elementary school from 1972-1980) and adults since then. I’ve always used the “workshop” as you call it. The only thing different between the two groups is that children don’t have to unlearn information and attitudes and adults do – adults can be just as “fidgety” as kids are when they’re bored. You really learn how to read people when you’re teaching, don’t you!

    23 Aug 2015 at 1:01 pm

  7. Karyn Greenstreet

    I agree completely, Trudy…I know that *I* get bored in classes if it’s not interactive enough or if the teacher seems to be blabbing on and on about something not relevant. (I once attended a teleseminar where the instructor took the first 25 minutes to talk about herself and her background, before she got to any content at all. Sheesh!) I wonder if we’re all more easily distracted now than, say, 20 years ago?

    23 Aug 2015 at 2:12 pm

  8. […] Blog post: Which Teaching Method is Right for You and Your Students? […]

    23 Sep 2015 at 2:31 pm

Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes