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How to Evaluate Teaching Materials

Admin - May 14 2016

What are teaching materials

Teaching materials are tools that a teacher uses to convey instructions to learners. Some examples of teaching materials are handouts, websites, visual aids, unit outlines, lecture recordings, textbooks or any other material that teachers provide to their students to facilitate learning. A collection of different learning materials is known as a learning resource. It is the duty of every teacher to provide appropriate learning resources in order to achieve curricular objectives. Learning resource selection should be done by a trained teacher using selection tools that are professionally designed.

The easiest way to get started with instructional materials is to get pointers from other teachers who have already been in the teaching field for a while. About 46 percent of ESL teachers say that the instructional materials they are using were references by a colleague. Once you have received references from colleagues, you can then sort out the materials in order of their relevance to you learners.

Reasons for using teaching materials

Appropriate instructional materials are important in teaching English because they allow students to improve their skills in the four fundamental pillars of language literacy which include reading, writing, listening and speaking. They simplify the learning process and bring clarity to the course. Teaching materials also help to break down complex concepts, increase the desire to learn and help in making intangible concepts concrete.

Factors to consider when selecting teaching materials

Though each school may have their own criteria for selecting instructional materials, there exists some general guidelines. One is that the materials should have a clear connection to the laid out educational objectives. Secondly, the instructional materials should seek to address the specific needs of the targeted learners.  Materials selected should reflect the interest of the locals and be in line with the local policies as well as curriculum documents. Other factors to consider include the following:

Variety

 Textbooks are the most heavily relied upon materials for teaching language. The main reason for relying heavily on textbooks as a method of instruction is because teachers may not have enough time to prepare supplementary materials, or may not be inclined to do so. However, there are other teaching materials such as websites that also prove useful today thanks to advances in technology. This means that teachers should not focus on one instructional material but rather create a collection that will cooperatively help them meet curricular goals. In addition, teacher should also not stick to a rigid set of instructional materials but rather be flexible in their selection.  

Quality and accessibility

Accessibility here means that the materials should be easily available, affordable and should be usable for special needs learners. Quality of the instructional materials is determined by the capacity of the material to help students in attaining the anticipated learning outcomes.

Diverse sources

Instructional materials from different sources will be instrumental in presenting various situations and points of view in deferent styles. This will also cater for the different ability levels of learners. In addition, having a variety of teaching materials will help represent the input of various authors and educators from different races, religions, age ethnicities and races.

Coordinated instructions

Materials selected should also coordinate instructions in the different grade levels. This means that, materials selected for learners in the lower grades should prepare them for what will be taught in higher grades.

In line with the Students’ needs

Materials selected should meet students’ needs. This means that the teacher needs to consider the level of difficulty of the instructional materials. Reading materials, for example, should be readable and learners should be able to draw meaning from the content. The teacher also needs to ensure that the instructional materials are in line with the learners’ background. This simply means that the student should be able to relate their personal experiences to what the learning materials offer.

Age appropriate

The teacher will need to consider whether the materials are age-appropriate to learners. There are so many materials that will offer a great learning opportunity for learners but may not be age appropriate. To choose age appropriate materials, a teacher should consider the literacy level of learners and the interests of their age group. If the material is too difficult and they do not understand, they will quickly get bored. If the material is too simple, they may also stop paying attention since there is nothing new to learn. Let the selected material be just a little bit difficult than the learners’ current grade.  This will ensure that learners remain engaged because they will be curious to learn something new.  Age appropriateness also means that the students will not be exposed to obscene or offensive materials.

Relevance

There is need for careful selection so that the selected materials are in line with the curriculum goals. Further, the materials should address the concerns that the teacher, as a trained professional, finds important. They should help the learner achieve the expected learning outcomes laid out in the curriculum document. Modern learning has made it clear that the student is the Centre of learning. Therefore, material selection should also be done with the student in mind.

Teacher’s Instructional Style

The teacher should also consider their style of teaching. Materials selected should complement the teacher’s efforts. Different teachers prefer to work in different ways to attain the same objectives. The instructional materials should therefore be in rhythm with the teacher’s preferred style of teaching.  

Challenges Facing Teachers

There are some challenges associated with selecting instructional materials such as their affordability and availability. Most teachers know about the existence of good instructional material but finding these materials can be a challenge. Where scarcity of materials is a problem, affordability also becomes a major issue. For instance, computer aided instructional materials make learning easy and interactive but may not be used in some parts of the world due to financial constraints.  This means that, sometimes, teachers are forced to compromise on quality due to limited resources.  For this reason, some teachers choose to develop their own materials to cater for these shortcomings.

Continuous selection

It is important to note that once the teacher has selected the best instructional materials for students, the selection process does not stop there. It remains on-going, meaning that the materials which are no longer relevant or appropriate should continuously be replaced by the more relevant ones. Further, materials that are still relevant but are worn out should also be replaced.

Conclusion

As observed, teaching materials are important in the delivery of instructions in any classroom. It is the responsibility of every teacher, as a trained professional, to select the best learning materials for their learners. While selecting instructional materials, the teacher needs to put the interests of the learners first to ensure that the materials are useful to the students and are in line with curriculum goals. 


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