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Instructional Techniques for Early Childhood Professionals Serving as Adjunct College Professors
By Rhonda Clements, Ed.D.

Today's economy has created the need for most early childhood teachers to supplement their income. One way to obtain an additional salary without sacrificing professional ethics, is to periodically serve as an adjunct instructor at a local college or university. Typical salaries range from $500 to $1,200 per semester credit hour depending on the teacher's experience.

The first step for the early childhood teacher is to dispel the notion that instruction within the college setting only involves lecturing, conducting seminars, or providing laboratory experiences. Successful adjunct faculty implement techniques aimed at arousing curiosity, stimulating ideas, and promoting critical thinking. The following annotated list can assist those Early Childhood professionals who wish to expand their employment at institutions of higher learning.


The "Words of Wisdom" Technique

This category identifies teacher-directed techniques that are commonly used to convey information orally within a limited time period. Effective educators stimulate ideas by using a variety of vocal tone and inflection, identifying the relationships among topics, reinforcing the purpose of the day's presentation, and interjecting humor when appropriate. These techniques include:


The Lecture Presentation

Course content is conveyed through verbal statements directed to the class.


The Conflicting Opinion

Opposing viewpoints are utilized throughout the lecture to encourage critical thinking.


The Open-Ended Story

A scenario is presented to the class with the expectation that individuals will create a suitable ending.


The Teacher Demonstration

Physical movements and gestures are executed to explain a situation.


The Guest Speaker

An individual with expertise in a specific content area is requested to address the class.


The "Can We Talk" Techniques

This section defines several group techniques to promote thought and elicit student reactions. The extent to which an individual responds is usually contingent upon the understanding obtained from the teacher-initiated experiences. Ample time should be given for the exchange of ideas, and the faculty member should only intervene to emphasize a point or to keep the group on task. Seating arrangements should be conducive to continuous dialogues.


The Debate

Individuals follow a predetermined set of guidelines to render their opposing standpoints.


The Class Discussion

The educator intermittently encourages the group to reflect upon the facts or opinions related to a particular topic.



The class is challenged to contribute a variety of solutions to one or a series of concerns. All replies are recorded.


Problem Solving

Individuals identify several solutions to a problem, and use a systematic process of elimination to determine if one answer is more effective for the particular predicament. The trial and error approach is a common system of elimination.


Round Table Discussion

A supportive interaction in which individuals are encouraged to offer explanations without fear of being criticized.


Panel Discussion

Three or more individuals are selected to serve on a panel. Each participant is given the same allotted time to present his or her standpoint before the larger group contributes additional facts or points of view.


The Colloquium

The educator arranges for a panel of experts to address questions submitted by a panel of student representatives.


The Case Study

Individuals are provided with specific data related to people or events. The information is used as a basis or rationale for class discussion.


The Collaboration

Individuals conduct mutually agreed upon goals between the college setting and a local school, community establishment, or child care center.


The "All the World is a Stage" Techniques

Engaging in learning experiences that contain dramatic elements appeals to many students. The following activities allow individuals the opportunity to exhibit the behaviors or actions that are associated with a distinct situation. Individuals should be given a clear description of the circumstances surrounding the issue, and adequate time to compose their responses.



Individuals imitate the movements or behavior associated with a particular object, feeling, or character.


Role Playing

Individuals respond to a particular issue, belief or event by assuming the physical and psychological characteristics associated with a particular role.



Individuals utilize simple props in the recreation of a particular incident.



The student spontaneously reacts to a situation, without previous practice.



Groups of individuals portray alternative solutions to problems that are associated with societal concerns.


The "Seeing is Believing" Techniques

This category identifies materials that can be used to arouse student curiosity, create a more positive learning environment and reinforce a distinct thought. There is a tendency for educators to abandon their use in the university setting, although some professionals utilize the following teaching aids regularly.


Bulletin Board

A display used to convey announcements, reminders, or visual materials concerning specific events or concepts.


Cartoon Message

Caricatures used to induce subtle humor in the interpretation of one central idea.


Classroom Materials and Supplies

Includes a wide variety of art, games, puzzles, multicultural crafts, dramatic play, magnetic play, educational toys, musical instruments, ecology science items, and other materials necessary for effective teaching.


Graph or Chart

A graphic illustration indicating trends or comparison.



Items used for purposes of closer examination. Many models can be handled, dismantled, and reassembled.


Pamphlets, Leaflets or Booklets

Materials that use a concise format to summarize information.


The "Medium is the Message" Techniques

The majority of today's college professionals favor the ease in which information can be conveyed through a variety of mediums. The following represent the most commonly used items.


Loop Films

Popularized in the 30s, this media still serves as a resource to introduce new topics.


Sound Slides

Vivid pictorials with accompanying information.


Tape Cassettes

Useful in communicating various conference proceedings.


Phonograph Records and Discs

 Auditory mediums for the demonstration of musical and motor skills.


Video Taped Programs

An episode or series of episodes accentuating one central theme.


Opaque Projector

It enlarges news clippings, charts, photographs and sketches directly on a large screen or wall. Most images can be traced and used for bulletin boards.


Overhead Projector

This object allows the educator to face the class and project transparencies onto a screen situated behind him or her.


The "It's My Turn" Techniques

Self-directed learning experiences maintain their importance in today's college settings. Few would argue that oral and written reports remain the two most highly used individualized activities to communicate student opinions and learning, but other techniques include:


Collection and Classification

Individuals use a specified selection process and organize the information in a predetermined sequence.


The Inventory

A procedure or device used to assess the amount, degree or status of one or more objects.


The Experiment

Individuals gather data, solve a problem, analyze their findings and draw a conclusion.


The Survey

Individuals ascertain the occurrence of a behavior or a condition. Recognized norms are sometimes used as a means of comparison.


The Questionnaire

This usually asks the student to select one response from three or four options.


The Checklist

Individuals respond to each question that concerns an extensive list of alternatives. Unlike questionnaires, most checklists include provisions for several responses to be marked.


Independent Study or Student Contract

A form of self study which most often results in the completion of a project to help verify the learning obtained.


The Log or Journal

A notebook in which individuals reflect on a specific experience.


Supplementary Readings

Assigned readings to increase the students' understanding.


Library Investigation

Planned research that makes use of library resources.


Workbooks and Worksheets

Study materials that include a series of exercises.


Programmed Instruction

Manuals in which the student completes objectives at his or her own pace.



The demonstration of teaching skills under conditions containing similar variables as those encountered in the actual early childhood setting.


Computer Programs

Information presented on soft or hard computer diskettes that supplement the class presentation.


The "Imaginative Mind" Techniques

Innovative learning experiences are not limited to the public school setting. Many college professionals pride themselves in their ability to present content in a creative manner. Considerations include the following:


Scheduled Field Trips

Partners or small groups select and attend an exhibition, presentation, or demonstration related to the course content.



A table or listing of events organized chronologically.



Attractively displayed figures or characters painted on a wall.


Communication via Letters

Students discuss content which has been furnished in the form of fictitious letters.


Twenty Questions

The class is given twenty trials to respond correctly to the educator's set of questions.


Game Show Adaptation

The educator utilizes a format similar to a popular television game show and divides the course content into specific categories. Mock game boards, comparable rules or similar methods of question selection may be implemented.


Current Events

Students editorialize course content found in journals, news clippings or magazines.


Creative Writing Projects

Students use their imagination to reconstruct content in the forms of short stories or news reporting.


Content Fairs

Individuals are given a specific class session to exhibit materials or projects for their class colleagues.


Rhonda L. Clements, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor and a Graduate Coordinator within the School of Education at Hofstra University. She may be contacted at: 240 Hofstra University, HPER Department, Hempstead, New York 11550, (516) 463-5176.