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IMPORTANCE OF ‘CHALK AND TALK’ METHOD

IN TRAINING AND ROLE OF INSTRUCTORS

INTRODUCTION

1. The Instructor centered 'chalk and talk' approach with a focus on the average student in
the class is the most common method of instruction. Some trainees may get a very encouraging
Instructor while some others may have to bear an Instructor using too much negative
reinforcement and ridicules of weaker learners. Among the various established method of
instructions, the lecture is the easiest, the most accepted, the safest, the oldest and the most basic
method. However this method does have many drawbacks and one of the serious amongst them
is that the trainees do not have any room to participate in the activity. This further leads to
creation of lack of interest in the trainees and they reach a saturation point very quickly. The
priceless impact of effective lectures can be seen in their stimulation and renewal of student
interest in the topic lectured. Therefore adopting an interactive style in lectures can improve
trainees’ assimilation of the subject.

2. In view of the large amount of information, usually attempted to be pumped-in during the
lecture, it is often said that lecture is only one way of communication. That is why we should
not restrict our class to just ‘Talk’ but should attempt to use the ‘Chalk’ whenever possible to
make the Trainees see and think. Even though lecture is performed mainly through oral
communication (talk), it is necessary for the instructor to consider the optimal use of available
resources to break the monotony of possible one-way communication. The ‘Chalk’ today also
includes any Audio-visual or other equipment used for demonstration, explanation or illustration,
preparatory reading resources such as books, journals or even hand out in relation to the topic on
which lecture is to be given help the instructor to incorporate interactive moments with the
trainees. Sustained effort on the part of instructor to keep the interest of the trainees, by using
various techniques such as discussion, problems to solve, and demonstration/drawings etc., can
make the lectures a two way communication. Even with all the technological advancements,
‘Chalk and Talk’ method of Instruction remains the best, provided the Instructor takes it on
himself to bring around the trainees to learning.

AIM

3. The aim of the paper is to: -


(a) Emphasise the role of Instructor, even today, with many technological
advancements and new methods of teaching.
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(b) Advocate adoption of interactive lecture methods for teaching in our training
institutes.
(c) Bring out the facilitators and distracters in the teaching/learning environment.

INSTRUCTOR’S RAPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT

4. The most frequently mentioned facilitator of learning is the rapport and encouragement
provided by Instructors. The constant use of explanation and demonstration by the Instructor
encourages and facilitates Trainee’s learning. There's a positive attitude toward learning and
some great Instructor are interested in the classes' progress and performance. Some constantly
remind the Trainees of the "importance of a good education for their future" and especially
motivate them to "do well in the exams". Some trainees do say that "My Instructor is good and
treats me as 'his own' and has fun at times”. He uses the ‘chalk’ to involve the class and draw
their attention back to him. This popular method of instruction is very successful when four
stages, viz. Planning, Preparation, Presentation, and Evaluation are diligently followed in the
lectures. This adds necessary features and dimensions of effectiveness to the classroom lectures.

Planning
5. Planning a Lecture. The overall objectives of the lecture concerned needs to be
considered while planning for the same. Realistic, practical, useful and clearly defined
objectives help accurate and appropriate planning. All other activities of the lecture depend on
this stage.

6. Trainees. The trainees to whom lecture is given are another important consideration
at the planning stage. Their previous knowledge, attitude towards the subject, as well as the
lectures, intellectual level, speed of work, homogeneity, learning difficulties, and most
important, the number in the class help the Instructor plan effectively.

7. Time. Another factor that helps in planning is the time required to prepare for the lecture
on the planned lines, the total time available for the entire lesson and what part of the day the
lecture is to be given. Temporal considerations are very useful to infuse sufficient interest in
students and enable the instructor to make his lecture effective against any odds due to time.

8. Subject Matter. The most crucial factor in planning is the nature and amount of
subject matter to be passed on by means of the lecture. It is useful to grade the subject matter as
vital, basic facts, data figures and symbols which every trainee “must know”, the important
elaboration of the above which every student “should know” and the background information
historical and related, that may be picked up incidentally by the students who may find it nice
and he “could know” them.

Preparation
9. Preparation of the lecture is important, but it must accommodate spontaneity as well as
planning. A written script intended to be read should, however, be avoided. In practical terms,
the best time to prepare a lecture is immediately after a class.
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10. Developing the Lesson Material. Ideally two or three broad points should be sufficient
for a forty five minutes lecture. Inclusion of a dozen items is surely too many for a class. It is in
the hands of the Instructor to exercise intelligent, imaginative and ruthless power of selection of
materials to be used in the lecture, discussion on test questions to be asked before, during and
after the lecture. ‘Handouts’ and ‘notes on the chalk board’ need to be prepared before lecture.
Sound preparation involves not only gathering material but also throwing it away.

11. Preparing a Lesson Plan. A logical planning for a lecture would lead the instructor to
prepare a plan for his actual lesson, which is the hard core of the whole lecture. The lesson plan
for a lecture class needs to have provided specific places for exercises, demonstration,
illustration for which materials have been gathered. But unless the time required for each
activity is accurately estimated, the lesson plan will not succeed in setting the direction of the
lecture.

12. Classroom Arrangements. Generally, few arrangements are already set for whatever type
of lecture class we have. However, it is possible to prepare for slight changes in the physical set
up for enabling the students to have group work for providing audio-visual or other equipment
testing its functioning and the visibility of the projected information to the whole class.

Presentation
13. Delivery of the Lecture. The traditional trifurcation of a lecture into the beginning, the
middle and the end helps the instructor to adjust to the requirements at each stage of his lecture.
Speech is a basic tool and command of voice is as important a part of professional competence as
command of subject matter. Pace and timing are important qualities of an instructor. The role of
‘chalk’ in the ‘talk’ becomes evident here.

14. ‘Introduction’. The lecture should be commenced punctually keeping the students at ease
and announcing the topic appropriately. ‘Chalking’ the topic on board is a good way to arouse
their interest. Relating the new lesson to the previous instruction provides continuity and raises
the level of student’s expectations. It is during the introduction that the lecturer has to get group
interest and motivate the students.

15. ‘Body of the Lesson’. After kindling the interest of the trainees the actual subject is
presented at this part of the lecture. This place the instructor may lose grip over the trainees or
the trainees may lose interest. Hence the lesson plan prepared by the instructor should be used
sincerely and carefully. Logical sequence, effective use of questions and answers and keeping
time track are all the essentials already provided in the lesson plan. The instructor may try and
make as much as interactions possible at this phase. The treatment of the subject should not be
very light and too dense. Through the presentation, there is a vital need for keeping the much
needed warmth. Intended pauses and encouraging the trainees to clarify their doubts must be
incorporated diligently. This will bring in a much needed diversity in presentation of the topic.
The ‘chalk’ should be used liberally to give a visual impact to important words, points, or
sentences.

16. ‘Summation’. A final recapitulation by reviewing the ground covered is the next step. At
this point of time it is also necessary to evaluate the level of assimilation by the trainees.
Questioning technique and dealing tactfully with incorrect answers is a fitting link between the
middle and the end of a lecture. The test used at the end of a lecture should be adequate to cover
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the topic. Due consideration must be given to the trainees ability to answer within the time
available. It is good to go over the weakness of a test at the end of lecture.

MAKING LEARNING MORE EFFECTIVE

17. Learning Situation. Besides the type of trainees, the environmental factors also play a
major role in subject assimilation in ‘Chalk and talk’ method. Disciplined atmosphere in well-lit
and properly-equipped classrooms are conducive to the use of this method. There are many
'things' in the learning environment that encourage or facilitate the Trainee's learning". The
factors that encourage learning are summarized below :-

(a) Motivational strategies such as charts, displays and teaching aids.

(b) Instructor’s encouragement through friendly reinforcing behaviour and being a


“Guide on Side” instead of a “Sage on Stage”.
(c) Classroom interaction through the use of group work and other cooperative
practices.
(d) Clear ventilated class rooms.
(e) Using Trainee as part of class organization, i.e. Class Senior, Group Leader,
Independent Examiner etc.
(f) Other facilities in the Institute, like, Labs, Cut-away models, Old projects etc.

18. The importance of having charts, posters, and displays, as motivating for the Trainee
cannot be over-emphasised. Despite the rather poor view of the wall displays in many of our
classrooms, the power of visual reinforcement is perceived as very important for Trainees. The
use of group work, co-operative activities and involving the Trainee as part of class organization
brings in a positive feedback factor. Having their work recognised by the Instructors and other
members of the class is a very important stimulant for learning.

FACTORS THAT DISCOURAGE / DISTRACT TRAINEE'S LEARNING

19. Some 'things' in the learning environment ‘discourage’ or ‘frustrate’ the Trainee's
learning". The factors that discourage learning are summarised below:-

(a) Instructor’s negative behaviour, not being helpful, bullying in class, and strategies
that focus primarily on the slow or disruptive learners.

(b) Physical conditions of the classrooms - too much noise, cramped conditions, poor
acoustics, Nil/Limited display space, Power failure during class etc.

(c) Cramped and uncomfortable seating with limited space for the display of creative
work.
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(d) ‘Chalk and talk’ which did not allow Trainees to make any decisions.

(e) Lack of resources or out of date teaching materials.

(f) Overloaded content based curriculum, with a strong exam pressure.

(g) External disruptions from other Staff/Officers in the Institute.

(k) Missing of classes due to Guard duties and Other duties.

(l) Weekly Training Plan and curriculum not followed due to other events, like POP,
Sports Events, Unit Anniversary etc. taking priority at times.
20. The physical condition of classrooms is perceived as the major frustration to Trainees'
learning. Cramped classrooms, no storage or display space, external noise, unsuitable furniture,
No electricity at times etc. are a negative influence on the effective learning atmosphere. The
negative behaviour of the Instructor and negative teaching strategies, focussing primarily on the
slower or more disruptive learners also influences the atmosphere. Instructors may ignore the
questions and answers of Trainees labeled as ‘Below average’ and ‘Weak’ and thus may not
cater for their needs and lowering their expectation of success. Instructional practices that draw
the most criticism includes inconsistent Instructor’s expectation, shouting, unfriendliness, over
valuing Above-average Trainees, negative reinforcement and providing unjust punishments and
rewards.
21. Ineffective Instructional Strategies. ‘Chalk and talk’ is cited as being both boring and
not allowing the Trainee to involve and make decisions. There could be "... too much Instructor’s
talk, repetition, lecturing, note taking, board work, book work and the lack of activities and
extension opportunities." Giving no individual attention is cited as the Instructional strategy that
causes discouragement to some slow learners. Lack of equipment and poor resources are also
cited as a major discouragement by the some Trainees. Library facilities and aged texts were
identified by Trainees.
22. Interruptions to Learning. The chain of thoughts in the mind of the Instructor/Trainee
during the teaching/learning process gets disturbed due to; Noise from adjacent areas,
Interruption during the class because of trainees going-out/coming-in due to other duties, Duty
call for Instructor handling other duties also, Surprise checks by Officers/Management etc.
23. Curricula and Extra-curricular Issues. Many Instructors have identified the overloaded
content-based curriculum with strong emphasis on examination and the deviations in Weekly
Training Plan and study timetable as a major discouragement factor. These activities are
interspersed with class-room activities and the mood transition time is not catered for in the
teaching effort undertaken. A trainee or a group of trainees coming into a class for study after an
outdoor activity will have lots to talk/discuss/regale and his/their mind will keep wandering with
no attention to the class. Similarly, a trainee or group of trainees who have to go out for any
duty/outdoor activity will spend the time making plans and mental preparations for it. He will not
have any tactical interests in the class.

Disadvantages of Lecture Method


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24. Although very commonly used in many a training institutions, the ‘chalk and talk’
method also has many a disadvantages:-

(a) There is no room for a trainee activity.


(b) It is difficult to retain the trainee’s attention throughout the lecture session.
(c) There is no immediate feedback from the trainees.
(d) The contents of lecture can not be remembered for long.
(e) The students reach the point of saturation very quickly.

Guidelines to Instructors
25. Keeping the above disadvantages in view, the following guidelines would help instructors
deliver lectures more effectively. They should endeavor to:-
(a) Fit the material to the time at their disposal.
(b) Seek hard and unrelentingly for good and precise examples / illustrations.
(c) Begin by stimulating the interest of the trainees, preferably with a joke, quip,
quote, anecdote or historical facts .
(d) Provide the trainees with frequent breathing, spaces and encourage the trainees to
ask questions. Do not ever try to snub any relevant questions. This will discourage the
trainees from asking any further questions.
(e) Provide an ending for every lecture but maintain continuity.
(f) Develop and use a range of voice, gestures and physical movement i.e.
appropriate to your style, to the material and to the occasion.

CONCLUSION

26. Of all the instructional methods, the ‘chalk and talk’ method is still the most commonly
used method for imparting training to our ab-initio trainees. However, for effective transfer of
knowledge, the Instructor should endeavor to generate the interest of the trainee in the subject to
complete a teaching-learning cycle. It is always preferable to sprinkle liberal doses of modern
techniques, to this age-old method, throughout the duration to add variety and participation.
Dedicated effort by the Instructor, which many times not possible in Service due to various
constraints, is the first parameter for success of this method. In many of our capsules, the time
allotted for the syllabus is inadequate and also many times, the Instructor is burdened with other
essential unavoidable duties. For an effective training environment we need to create situations
devoid of distracters mentioned above.

27. The physical conditions of many of our classrooms and its overcrowding are the most
significant constraint to learning. This paper will hopefully enable Instructors to facilitate the
development of their strategies to anticipate ways of dealing with frustrations in the learning
environment. The Administration and Management should channelise efforts to include Utopian
settings in the already available infrastructure.