Listening in the integrated curriculum.The writer, serving as university supervisor of student teachers in the public schools for thirty years, assessed pupil listening quality in observational visits made. The art of listening definitely needs improvement and teachers, regardless of academic subject matter taught, must aid pupils in listening achievement. Good listening habits are salient in school, but also in society. There are a plethora of times, in oral conversation in the societal arena whereby a participant may be embarrassed to have content repeated due to faulty listening. What might the classroom teacher do to increase listening comprehension?
Improving Listening Comprehension
The teacher needs to make certain that readiness exists for listening, prior to providing a lesson presentation. Thus, pupils must put away all unneeded objects from their desks, prior to lesson engagement. Playing with objects distracts from quality listening. Curbing unnecessary noises is important so that better listening might result. Essential standards of conduct must be developed and posted in the classroom. Teachers and pupils having understanding in implementing tenets of Emotional Intelligence (EI) find it to be significant, always (Nazareth, 2010). Distracting behavior, such as rudeness and put downs may be evaluated in terms of these standards, and humane penalties used for each infracture should be meted out, possibly in terms of taking away a privilege.
Background information (Ausubel, 1958) must be provided for pupils to benefit from an ensuing lesson. When pupils participate in an ongoing task, the teacher notices which facts, concepts and generalizations learners possess and helps to fill in missing ideas. Listening quality occurs when pupils possess the necessary advanced organizers in acquiring content from lesson presentation. There is an overload of info unless salient ideas are noted and separated from the less important through careful listening.
In the new lesson, the teacher must plan to actively engage pupils in learning. A hands on approach such as the project method helps in these endeavors. Not all activities can be hands on however, so the teacher needs to plan in having an exciting discussion, for example, whereby all participate wholeheartedly. Enthusiasm for learning aids in securing good habits of listening.
Second, it is important to avoid repetition when communicating orally. This does not mean avoiding review and practice, when necessary, but the teacher may avoid repetition in oral statements by having pupils notice directions, for example, that can be obtained from a white board or chalkboard, if the pupil did not get them the first time. However, directions and oral content must be presented clearly in ways that pupils understand. When supervising university student teachers/cooperating teachers, the writer noticed carelessly given directions for an activity with clarity lacking. Pupils then could not proceed with extended leanings. This must be avoided (Ediger and Rao, 2011).
Third, pupils need to experience what is meaningful. Subject matter/skills must be presented in ways that make sense to learners. Too often, teachers hurry on in activities and try to cover too much ground in a small amount of time. This is opposite of pupils attaching meaning to new learnings presented. Haste may certainly make for waste. Rather, the tempo and speed of learning experiences need to be such that pupils understand content, such as when a pupil repeats in his/her own words, directions given by the classroom teacher. Thus, what is taught must be taught well in which pupils understand ensuing subject matter (Ediger, 2011).
Fourth, pupils must reflect upon that which has been learned. By reflecting, the pupil is assisted in recalling content acquired to notice gaps in learning. Or, the learner realizes that an increased amount of knowledge is necessary. Perhaps, new interests and problems arise as a result of the reflection. Thus, identified problems need an hypothesis and modification thereof if needed, as a result of testing. Thinking about thinking is involved here (See Liston and Zeichner, 1987).
Fifth, self efficacy is increasingly inherent if a pupil reinforces indepth learning. Opposite of indepth is survey procedures. With in-depth learning, ideas are used again and again in new and more complex ways whereby the learner feels increasing competent in these subject matter learnings. Confidence comes from being successful in achievement. The confidence may build up in achieving degrees of self efficacy. Feeling the apposite, which is failure, hinders total development of the child such as intellectual, social, and emotional. To develop self efficacy in the child, the teacher and classmates must assist all to succeed in school and in life. Pushing, shoving, name calling, among other negative initiatives, make for a lack of good will and feeling in the classroom as well as hindering achievement in each curriculum area. Quality listening habits depend, in part, upon respecting each person and his/her contributions (See Goleman, 1995).
Sixth, locus of control is another salient concept to emphasize in teaching and learning situations. There are pupils who have selected feelings on self effort making for success in achievement. Thus, the individual is responsible for doing well in coursework. Others feel that factors in the environment may determine, in whole or partially, what transpires in life. The writer has listened to university students say, after taking a test, that the test items were faulty or did not ask for the right response. There are a plethora of reasons given by individuals as to why success was not at hand for any given attempt at performance. The writer has also heard students exclaim, "I certainly studied hard for the exam and it paid off with the grade received." It is true that illness, fatigue, and discouragement, hinder success in school and in society. Working hard in each course has also paid off well. However, locus of control pertains to who determines what happens in life. Is it within the individual being responsible, or do external factors, beyond one's control, determine what occurs? The more successful pupils are and have been, the more likely they are to venture into the unknown with risk taking. Thus, a pupil is able to predict success in undertaking a challenging task, or he/she might avoid an ensuing experience due to feelings of failure. This will come in degrees and not be an either/or decision with risk taking (See Rotter, 1971).
Seventh, appropriate sequence in learning is important within the framework of achieving skills in listening. Thus, the order of activities for learners to participate in, should move gradually from the less to the more complex. Brain hemisphere is involved here in that the left side appears to move logically in a planned sequence. The right hemisphere is creatively oriented and may perceive novelty, uniqueness, and newness without a necessarily carefully planned sequential set of activities and experiences. Art work, music, poetry writing, among others, may exemplify use of the right brain hemisphere. Intake of experiences might well come from listening as an avenue along with reading, writing, and speaking in oral communication to reveal creativity in its numerous endeavors.
Classroom teachers must plan lessons carefully to incorporate quality pupil listening. Incorporated objectives should include knowledge, skills, and attitudinal ends. Varied learning activities in different academic areas must assist pupils to attain these ends. Evaluation needs be frequent to notice listening progress.
Ausubel, David (1958), The Psychology of Meaningful Verbal Learning. New York: Grune and Strattan.
Ediger, Marlow (2011), "Shared Reading, the Pupil, and the Teacher," Reading Improvement, 48 (2), 55-58.
Ediger, Marlow, and D. Bhaskara Rao (2011), Essays on Teaching and Learning. New Delhi, India: Discovery Publishing House.
Goleman, Daniel, (1995), Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.
Liston, D., and Zeichner, K. (1987), "Critical Pedagogy and Teacher Education," Journal of Teacher Education, 169 (3), 117-137.
Nazareth, Benjamin (2010), Effect of Emotional Intelligence and Self Efficacy on B. Ed. Trainees on their Academic Achievement. Ph D Thesis appraised for Alagappa University, Karaikudi, India.
Rotter, Julian B. (1971), Generalized Expectancies for Interpersonal Trust," American Psychologist, 26 (2), 443-452.
DR. MARLOW EDICER
Truman State University