2. General principles

From the lecture to the learning subject

Sandwich method in teaching is designed to conciliate the way of presenting information with different needs of learners in the target group, and to improve the efficacy of the teachers’ work. The essence of sandwich principle is the interchange of phases of collective and individual learning, with four specific junctions between these phases (Picture 1).

Special importance in the sandwich structure is given to the beginning and finishing phase of the learning process, in order to secure the motivation and future application of knowledge. The beginning and finishing phase incorporate junction A and junction D (Picture 1). In between, successive lectures (collective learning) and phases of interactive (individual) learning are interpolated.

In the phase of collective learning, teacher presents a new subject matter in the form of lecture, presentation or demonstration. The form and speed of teaching is same for all, and students are mostly passive recipients of information. During the individual, mostly interactive phases of learning, there is a space for processing, memorizing and transferring the information presented during the collective phases of learning. Students can visualize, structure and discuss in pairs or small groups what they have heard, and confront their point of view with those of other colleagues. Student’s interpretation of the subject matter is questioned and put under scrutiny, which can be very productive in the learning process. Different views and opinions have to be dealt with through cooperative effort of learners.

There are six basic functions of learning: motivation, input of information, processing of information, memorizing/saving reflecting, transfer/applicability of knowledge, and controlling and directing learners’ activities. To make the best result from the invested time, there should be enough different approaches and space to satisfy different student’s needs for realization of all six functions.

All phases in sandwich principle have its own characteristics and functions. Combination of appropriate teaching methods during different phases leads to adequate fulfilling of all teaching functions. Teaching methods can be chosen according to the teaching functions they are directed to. For instance, lecture is primary directed to input of information and less towards controlling and directing of students activities, or motivating. Other methods, like guided discussions, enable processing information, memorization and transfer, with less impact on controlling and directing of students activities, or motivation.

Sandwich design can be adjusted according to teacher’s preferences, the situation of the learning group and specific characteristics of material that needs to be presented. When introducing sandwich principle in his/her classes, teacher should carefully observe time limits planned for each phase and follow the fixed sequence of phases in the lecture. After practicing enough and gaining experience, teacher can systematically loosen the strict rules of time management and succession of phases, so that the teaching becomes more self-organized.