The following teaching and learning techniques fall at various points on a scale of completely directive to completely nondirective. Directive instruction is teacher-oriented and didactic, whereas nondirective instruction is student-oriented and facilitative. These are the two main categories of teaching styles, and most methods involve some combination of the two, the distribution of which is up to the educator’s discretion.
Active Learning: An interactive (as opposed to passive) approach wherein the student is allowed to generate, rather than receive, information. In an active learning environment, the teacher assumes the role of facilitator. Examples include spontaneous group dialogue, cold calling, think-pair-share, and reciprocal peer questioning.
Assessment and Feedback: By using assessment strategies that draw students into the assessment process, it is more likely that they learn more of the content that you want them to learn while getting the added benefits of learning skills that will be useful to them in the future. By deliberately using different Functions of Assessments at specific times during the learning process students, will have a clearer vision of what is expected of them and generally will be more positive about their course experiences.
Blended Learning: A blended learning approach combines face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities to form an integrated instructional approach. In the past, digital materials have served a supplementary role, helping to support face-to-face instruction. For example, a blended approach to a traditional, face-to-face course might mean that the class meets once per week instead of the usual three-session format. Learning activities that otherwise would have taken place during classroom time can be moved online. This is the idea behind flipped classrooms.
Brainstorming: In order to generate creative ideas, learners are asked to withhold judgment or criticism and produce a very large number of ways to do something, such as resolve a problem. For example, learners may be asked to think of as many they can for eliminating world hunger. Once a large number of ideas have been generated, they are subjected to inspection regarding their feasibility.
Calibrated Peer Review: A web-based management tool that enables discipline-based writing with peer review in classes of any size. Students learn how to evaluate their peers’ documents by reviewing three carefully crafted sample texts, which include an exemplar and common student errors and misconceptions. Pre-written assignments by other instructors can be used or adapted to fit your needs. Citation credit is attributed to faculty authors whose writing assignments are modified.
Campus-Based: Campus-based learning uses the campus buildings and grounds as teaching tools. Projects can provide hands-on, real-world experiences that link to service-learning and civic engagement programs, and can be accomplished without a field trip budget or transportation.
Case Study- Based: An examination of a real or simulated problem, which is structured so that learning can take place or be reinforced. Also, a detailed analysis made of some specific, usually compelling event or series of related events so that learners will better understand its nature and what might be done about it. For example, learners in a technology lab might investigate the wear and tear of skate boarding on public works. Another class might look at cases of digital technologies and privacy.
Centers of Interest and Displays: Collections and displays of materials are used to interest learners in themes or topics. For example, children may bring to school and display family belongings that reflect their ethnic heritage. The intention may be to interest the class in the notion of culture. Or, the teacher might arrange a display of different devices used in measurement to prompt interest in that topic.
Classroom Response Systems: Sometimes known as audience polling technology (or even just “clickers”), classroom response systems promise numerous benefits in classes, including improved student engagement, enhanced formative feedback for instructors, easy quizzing tools, even a means to take attendance. Instructors can employ the systems to gather individual responses from students or to gather anonymous feedback. Reports are typically exported to Excel for upload to the instructor’s grade book.
Cognitive: In contrast to the more direct method of learning-by-doing, cognitive apprenticeship encourages students to learn by observing before trying out a task themselves in order to reduce demands on the mental faculties. The four-step training regimen runs as follows: 1) acquiring information by observing a model’s actions, hearing their descriptions, and discerning their consequences; 2) emulating a model’s performance; 3) deliberately practicing in order to achieve automaticity of technique, thereby reducing the momentary demands on the cognitive processes; and 4) acquiring the self-regulation necessary to adapt their performance to changes in internal and external conditions.
Collaborative: Students work in small groups to complete a specific task or work together over time to complete various assignments. The most productive collaborations involve a fair division of labor and relevant and complex projects that cannot be completed by an individual alone. Interdependence is required.
Colloquia: A guest or guests are invited to class for the purpose of being interviewed in order to find out about the persons or activities in which they are involved. Thus, a guest musician might serve as a stimulus for arousing interest in music and musical performance.
Competitive: An individualistic method that encourages scaled performance. In the sense of game-based learning, students compete with each other one to-one or team-to-team to determine which individual or group is superior at a given task such as “spelldowns,” anagrams, technology trivia, Odyssey of the Mind, or project competition.
ConcepTests: Conceptual multiple-choice questions that focus on one key concept of an instructor’s learning goals for a lesson. When coupled with student interaction through peer instruction, ConcepTests represent a rapid method of formative assessment of student understanding.
Contract: Written agreements entered into by students and teachers which describe academic work to be accomplished at a particular level over a particular period of time such as a week or month.
Controversial Issues: An issues-based, teacher-directed method that focuses on controversies. Students are directed through a process that assists them in understanding how to deal with controversial and sensitive issues and clarifies these issues in a group context. Involves critical thinking and discourse analysis.
Cooperative: Involves structuring classes around small groups that work together in such a way that each group member’s success is dependent on the group’s success. There are different kinds of groups for different situations, but they all balance some key elements that distinguish cooperative learning from competitive or individualistic learning.
Culture Jamming: A method used to empower students to “speak back” to mass advertisements and media images that enforce stereotypes and select representations of individuals or groups. Empowers students to mock or “jam” images of popular culture.
Debates (formal and informal): Similar to discussion but more structured. Traditionally involves choosing a topic that has a strong argument for and against it, and splitting the class / group with one side presenting the case for and the other presenting the case against. Debates can be very thought provoking and are great for developing students’ communication skills, but they are time consuming and staff skill is essential to facilitate the process.
Debriefing: A method used to provide an environment or platform for the expression of feelings and the transfer of knowledge following an experience. Debriefing may come at the hands of a tragic event or may be used more generally following an intentionally educational experience. Debriefing relies on the skills of the facilitator to reframe an experience or event to appropriately channel emotions and knowledge toward understanding and transformation.
Demonstration: A teaching method based predominantly on the modeling of knowledge and skills. A form of presentation whereby the teacher or learners show how something works or operates, or how something is done. For example, a teacher could demonstrate how to use a thesaurus, how to operate a power drill, how to scan an image, or what happens when oil is spilled on water as when an oil tanker leaks. Following that, students practice under teacher supervision. Finally, independent practice is done to the point of proficiency.
Discussion: A group assembles to communicate with one another through speaking and listening about a topic or event of mutual interest. For example, a group of learners convenes to discuss what it has learned about global warming. Teachers can hold class-wide discussions or divide students into groups.
Drill and Practice: A form of independent study whereby, after the teacher explains a task, learners practice it. After students are shown how to use Ohm’s Law, they are asked to make calculations of current, resistance and voltage.
Experiential: Experiential learning is a process through which students develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting. Experiential learning encompasses a variety of activities including internships, service learning, undergraduate research, study abroad, and other creative and professional work experiences. Well-planned, supervised, and assessed experiential learning programs can stimulate academic inquiry by promoting interdisciplinary learning, civic engagement, career development, cultural awareness, leadership, and other professional and intellectual skills.
Field observation, fieldwork, field trip: Observations made or work carried on in a natural setting. Students visit the local museum of natural history to see displays about dinosaurs, or they begin and operate a small business to learn about production and marketing.
The Gallery Walk: A discussion technique for active engagement. Students get out of their chairs and actively synthesize important concepts in consensus building, writing, and public speaking. Teams rotate around the classroom, composing answers to questions as well as reflecting upon the answers given by other groups. Questions are posted on charts or just pieces of paper located in different parts of the classroom. Each chart or “station” has its own question that relates to an important class concept. The technique closes with an oral presentation or “report out” in which each group synthesizes comments to a particular question.
Gaming: Competitive activity based on course content. Moderate competition enhances performance. Often used for content reinforcement and skill practice. Can also be used to strengthen critical thinking in games where strategies must be developed to solve problems. In order to create a truly educational game, the instructor needs to make sure that learning the material is essential to scoring and winning.
Graphic Organizers: Clarifying relationships with diagrams or graphs; clarifying processes with flow charts. To be used in lectures or as assignments.
Individualized/Customized: Any of a number of teaching maneuvers whereby teaching and learning are tailored to meet a learner’s unique characteristics. Based on a student’s “proximal zone of development.”
Immersive Environments: Students are placed within a setting or situation in which they exclude all else from their experiences. If they are immersed in a language, they speak, hear, write, and read only that language. If they are immersed in a work setting and assigned a role there, they become that role and their communications and actions comply with that role.
Inquiry-Based: Also called discovery-based learning, a method used when students are encouraged to derive their own understanding or meaning for something. For example, students are asked to find out what insulation acts as the best barrier for cold or hot environments.
Interactive: Interactive learning is a more hands-on, real-world process of relaying information in classrooms. Passive learning relies on listening to teachers lecture or rote memorization of information, figures, or equations. But with interactive learning, students are invited to participate in the conversation, through technology (online reading and math programs, for instance) or through role-playing group exercises in class.
The Jigsaw Technique: In a jigsaw, the class is divided into several teams, with each team preparing separate but related assignments. When all team members are prepared, the class is re-divided into mixed groups, with one member from each team in each group. Each person in the group teaches the rest of the group what he/she knows, and the group then tackles an assignment together that pulls all of the pieces together to form the full picture, hence the name jigsaw.
Just-in-Time: Just-in-Time Teaching focuses on improving student learning through the use of brief web-based questions (JiTT exercises) delivered before a class meeting. Students’ responses to JiTT exercises are reviewed by the instructor a few hours before class and are used to develop classroom activities addressing learning gaps revealed in the JiTT responses. JiTT exercises allow instructors to quickly gather information about student understanding of course concepts immediately prior to a class meeting and tailor activities to meet students’ actual learning needs.
Learning-by-Observing: From a cognitive perspective, the dramatic effects of learning-by-observing can be explained in the following way: by allowing the student to focus her attention on a model’s behavior instead of attending to the cognitive processes and motor execution needed to do a new—possibly difficult— task, she becomes better able to absorb and handle the instruction she receives. There seems to be a degree of objectivity achieved by watching someone else perform a task that cannot be achieved— or at least maintained— while performing the task yourself.
Learning-by-Teaching: Researches have found that “students will work harder, reason better, and ultimately understand more by learning to teach someone else—even a virtual “teachable agent”—than they will when learning for themselves.” In an ingenious program at the University of Pennsylvania, a “cascading mentoring program” engages college undergraduates to teach computer science to high school students, who in turn instruct middle school students on the topic.
Lecture-Based: Active lectures blend 10-15 minute presentation segments with interactive experiences such as asking provocative questions and class or small group discussions. Using visual aids such as graphic organizers, video clips, or a few PowerPoint slides to emphasize main points and an engaging voice improve results.
Literature Review: Students read and reflect on articles in the professional journals in order to become familiar with the current research.
Mastery-Based: As a class, students are presented with information to be learned at a predetermined level of mastery. The class is then tested and individuals who do not obtain high enough scores are retaught and retested. Those who passed undertake enrichment study while classmates catch up.
Memorizing: Also called rote learning, memorizing is a learning technique based on repetition and retention. This is the most widely tested form of learning.
Metacognitive: Metacognition is a critically important yet often overlooked component of learning. Effective learning involves planning and goal-setting, monitoring one’s progress, and adapting as needed. All of these activities are metacognitive in nature. By teaching students these skills – all of which can be learned – we can improve student learning. There are three critical steps to teaching metacognition: Teaching students that their ability to learn is mutable; teaching planning and goal-setting; and giving students ample opportunities to practice monitoring their learning and adapting as necessary.
Mobile (M-): Mobile learning, or “m-learning,” offers modern ways to support learning process through mobile devices, such as handheld and tablet computers, MP3 players, smartphones and mobile phones. It presents unique attributes compared to conventional e-learning: personal, portable, collaborative, interactive, contextual and situated, it emphasizes “just-in-time-learning” as instruction can be delivered anywhere and at anytime through it. Moreover, it is an aid to formal and informal learning and thus holds enormous potential to transform the delivery of education and training.
Multimedia: Integrating varying formats such as lecture, text, graphics, audio, video, Web resources, projection devices, and interactive devices in a lesson. Increases motivation, alertness, and can improve the quality of student responses. Simultaneous presentation using multiple formats allows students to learn using multiple senses.
Object-Based: In the arts and sciences, for example, using objects from museums and campus collections to enhance your lectures and seminars.
Peer-Assisted: A student-to-student support network for both academic and personal development. Advanced students are trained to help beginning students, meeting regularly in small groups to help them improve their understanding of the subject matter, work through common problems, and further develop their learning strategies.
Peer-to-Peer: Peer-to-Peer teaching is a method of instruction that involves students teaching other students. Students learn more and demonstrate mastery when they are able to comprehensively teach a subject. Vice versa, when a student is struggling, having someone who is on the same age level as them helps to create bridges in the learning gaps. A peer tutor can form examples and relate to a student on an entirely different level than an adult educator.
Podcasting: Audio: Using mp3 compression to make audio files small enough to be broadcast, downloaded, or emailed by instructors and students. Files may include lectures or verbal feedback regarding assignments. Enhanced: Combining images, such as PowerPoint, and audio, such as instructor voice over, which are compressed and viewable on a computer or photo/video iPod. Video: Digital video, such as classroom lectures or interviews with experts, which are compressed and viewable on a computer or video iPod.
Portfolio: Collecting, organizing, reflecting upon, and publishing a variety of student work including papers, presentations, videos, and images.
Presentation: Individuals or groups of learners are given or choose topics. For example, each may be asked to find out about one planet in our solar system, or about solar powered vehicles. What they learn is shared with other class members by way of oral or written presentations.
Problem-Based: An instructional strategy wherein the learning is centered on a problem that the students have to solve. It differs from traditional instruction in that the problem is given to the students before instruction, and is generally associated with collaborative learning because students are often put into groups where they work on the problem together.
Programmed and automated instruction: A form of individualized instruction whereby information is learned in small, separate units either by way of reading programmed texts or using computer-based programs.
Project-Based: Students work through a series of activities and problems culminating in the completion of something tangible (e.g. artifact, media, performance). A form of individualization whereby learners choose and work on projects and activities that facilitate and support the development of skills and knowledge. Often, learners not only choose topics but also the means of their conduct and production.
Protocols: Learners study an original record or records of some important event and then try to understand the event or its consequences. They might watch a film depicting actual instances of discrimination and then consider its causes and effects.
Recitation: Students are given information to study independently. They then recite what they have learned when questioned by the teacher. For example, students read about what causes pollution, and the teacher, through questioning, determines the extent and nature of their knowledge and understanding.
Research-led: Wherein students learn about others’ research and conduct their own. Includes developing research skills and methods.
Role Playing: A technique wherein students act out a situation (e.g. a public meeting to discuss the planning of a new supermarket). Role plays are good for developing opinions and encouraging students to look at a situation through a new perspective. Great for practicing communication skills, and provides an opportunity to assess learning.
Scaffolding: A teaching method that enables a student to solve a problem, carry out a task, or achieve a goal through a gradual shedding of outside assistance. It enlists the instructor as an “activator” whose role is to facilitate the student’s incremental mastery of a concept. “Fading” is the process of gradually removing the scaffolding that was put into place for the student until he internalizes the information and becomes a self-regulated, independent learner.
Self-Directed/Independent: In self-directed learning (SDL), the individual takes the initiative and the responsibility for what occurs in his or her education. Individuals select, manage, and assess their own learning activities, which can be pursued at any time, in any place, through any means, at any age. In schools, teachers can work toward SDL any stage at a time. Teaching emphasizes SDL skills, processes, and systems rather than content coverage and tests. For the individual, SDL involves initiating personal challenge activities and developing the personal qualities to pursue them successfully.
Service: A flexible pedagogy that can make use of varied service opportunities, be used in a variety of classroom settings, and support numerous learning outcomes. Essential elements of effective service-learning practice include well-defined learning goals, meaningful service activities, and critical reflection activities which support both service and learning goals.
As defined by the Campus Compact National Center for Community Colleges, “Service-learning is an experiential teaching method that combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking, and civic responsibility. Service-learning programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility and commitment to the community.”
Simulation: Learners engage with something intended to give the appearance or have the effect of something else. Thus, students may engage in a simulation of the United Nations General Assembly in order to have a “first-hand experience” of how it works and what its delegates do.
Socratic Questioning: Named for the early Greek philosopher/teacher Socrates, a Socratic approach to teaching is one in which the instructor poses thoughtful questions to help students learn and to promote critical thinking skills. One way of following the Socratic method recommends that teachers respond to all answers to questions with a further question (that calls upon the respondent to develop his/her thinking in a fuller and deeper way); seek to understand–where possible–the ultimate foundations for what is said or believed and follow the implications of those foundations through further questions; treat all assertions as a connecting point to further thoughts; treat all thoughts as in need of development; and stimulate students — through your questions — to pursue connections.
Storytelling: Storytelling can be a powerful tool in the classroom. It usually begins with the teacher playing the role of storyteller, or by inviting a professional storyteller or guest speaker into the classroom. Students are then given the opportunity to tell stories to the rest of the class in a structured fashion. By listening to another person tell a story, students develop listening, concentration, and vocabulary skills and may become more motivated to read; by telling stories themselves students develop oral language, writing, and critical thinking skills.
Synectics: The use of specific techniques to foster creativity in students. For example, the students may be asked to develop metaphors to describe mobility across different terrains.
Task-Based: Usually used to teach language, task-based learning involves an activity in which students use language to achieve a specific outcome. The activity reflects real life, and learners focus on meaning. They are free to use any language they want. Playing a game, solving a problem, or sharing information or experiences can all be considered relevant and authentic tasks. In TBL an activity in which students are given a list of words to use cannot be considered as a genuine task. Nor can a normal role play if it does not contain a problem-solving element or where students are not given a goal to reach. In many role plays students simply act out their restricted role. For instance, a role play where students have to act out roles as company directors but must come to an agreement or find the right solution within the given time limit can be considered a genuine task in TBL.
Values Clarification: Teachers lead students through a series of moral and ethical dilemmas, such as birth control or clear-cutting forestry practices, to assist them in clarifying their values and moral choices.
Web-Based: Web based learning is often called online learning or e-learning because it includes online course content. Discussion forums via email, videoconferencing, and live lectures (videostreaming) are all possible through the web. Web based courses may also provide static pages such as printed course materials. One of the values of using the web to access course materials is that web pages may contain hyperlinks to other parts of the web, thus enabling access to a vast amount of web based information. A “virtual” learning environment (VLE) or managed learning environment (MLE) is an all-in-one teaching and learning software package. A VLE typically combines functions such as discussion boards, chat rooms, online assessment, tracking of students’ use of the web, and course administration. VLEs act as any other learning environment in that they distribute information to learners. VLEs can, for example, enable learners to collaborate on projects and share information. However, the focus of web based courses must always be on the learner—technology is not the issue, nor necessarily the answer.
Whole Language: In the simplest terms, the “whole language approach” is a method of teaching children to read by recognizing words as whole pieces of language. Proponents of the whole language philosophy believe that language should not be broken down into letters and combinations of letters and “decoded.” Instead, they believe that language is a complete system of making meaning, with words functioning in relation to each other in context. It has drawn criticism by those who advocate “back to basics” pedagogy or reading instruction because whole language is based on a limited body of scientific research.