Education has gone through many evolutionary stages throughout the centuries and with its development have come many different instructional strategies for teaching. Each strategy approaches teaching in a different way and each has proven to be successful in its own right. However, as each individual is unique and so each student responds differently to these strategies. Therefore, it’s important to determine which strategy suits each student best.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few interesting teaching strategies that can be used to encourage understanding and a love for learning within students.
What is a Teaching Strategy?
A teaching strategy or method refers to the approach or plan that a teacher adopts to facilitate learning and help students acquire knowledge, skills, and understanding. Different strategies and methods are employed in education to engage students, make learning meaningful, and to cater to diverse learning styles.
There are many different learning strategies that can be utilised to facilitate effective learning, which we’ll cover further on.
It's, however, important to note that effective teaching often involves a combination of these strategies, depending on the subject matter, the learning objectives, and the personality traits of the students. Teachers may also adapt their methods based on emerging educational research and best practices.
Instructional Strategies for Teaching
While there are hundreds of instructional methods and strategies for teaching, there are a few that stand out among the rest as being geared particularly owards a student truly fostering understanding and confidence in their abilities.
The Socratic Method of Teaching
The Socratic Method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between students and teachers, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and illuminate ideas. It’s named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, who used this method extensively in his teachings.
Key characteristics of the Socratic Method include.
- Questioning: the teacher, or tutor, poses a series of open-ended questions to students. These questions are designed to encourage deeper thought, reflection, and analysis rather than to elicit simple factual answers.
- Active participation: students are actively involved in the learning process by responding to the questions posed. Instead of passively receiving information, they engage in a dialogue with the teacher and their peers.
- Critical thinking: the Socratic Method aims to develop critical thinking skills by challenging assumptions, exploring different perspectives, and examining the logical foundations of ideas. It encourages students to question and evaluate their own beliefs and the beliefs of others.
- Inductive reasoning: through a series of questions, the Socratic Method often leads students to arrive at conclusions or solutions through their own reasoning rather than being explicitly told the answer.
- Dialectical process: the method involves a dialectical process of inquiry and debate. The teacher guides the discussion by posing questions, responding to student answers, and redirecting the conversation to explore various aspects of a topic.
- Discovery learning: the Socratic Method fosters a sense of discovery and ownership of knowledge. Students are encouraged to discover information for themselves through careful consideration of questions and responses.
- Encouraging dialogue: the method emphasises the importance of respectful and thoughtful dialogue. Students are encouraged to listen actively to their peers, respond to each other's ideas, and build upon the collective understanding of the group.
The Teach-Back Method
The teach-back method was initially invented for the healthcare profession to ensure that patients understand what is being explained to them by a healthcare professional. However, since its invention, it’s been widely used within education.
In education, the teach-back method is a communication technique used to ensure that information has been effectively understood by the student. The basic concept involves the student repeating back information or demonstrating their comprehension of a concept. This method is particularly valuable in situations where accurate understanding is critical, such as when teaching complex concepts.
Here's how the teach-back method generally works.
- Lesson delivery: the teacher presents a lesson, explains a concept, or provides instructions to the students.
- Ask for teach-back: following the lesson, the teacher asks students to ‘teach back’ the information in their own words or demonstrate their understanding. This can be done individually, in small groups, or as a class, depending on the nature of the lesson.
- Student responses: students respond by explaining the concept, summarising key points, or demonstrating how to solve a problem. This allows the teacher to gauge the level of understanding among the students.
- Feedback and clarification: based on the student's responses, the teacher provides feedback, clarifies any misconceptions, and reinforces important points. This step is crucial for addressing any gaps in understanding and ensuring that all students are on the same page.
- Reiteration if necessary: if there are persistent misunderstandings or if a significant portion of the class struggles to grasp the concept, the teacher may need to reiterate certain points, provide additional examples, or use alternative teaching methods to enhance comprehension.
The Student-Centred Method
Student-centred teaching is an instructional approach that places the student at the centre of the learning process. In contrast to traditional teacher-centred methods, which are more lecture-based and instructor-focused, student-centred teaching encourages active student engagement, critical thinking, and independent learning. Several methods and strategies fall under the umbrella of student-centred teaching, including the Socratic Method.
Here are a few other student-centred teaching methods.
- Inquiry-based learning: students explore topics, ask questions, and conduct investigations to deepen their understanding. This method promotes curiosity and self-directed learning. At CambriLearn we facilitate enquiry-based learning by hosting Q&A sessions where students are encouraged to ask questions about topics or theories that they’re struggling with or require more clarity on.
- Project-based learning: students work on projects that are centred on real-world problems, applying their knowledge and skills to find solutions. Project-based learning emphasises critical thinking and problem-solving.
- Student choice: this method allows students to have a say in what and how they learn, tailoring aspects of the curriculum to their interests. For example, at CambriLearn students have the freedom to choose which subjects they focus on for the day.
The Differentiated Instruction Method
Differentiated instruction is an educational approach that tailors teaching methods, content, and assessment to accommodate the diverse learning needs, preferences, and abilities of individual students. The goal of differentiated instruction is to create an inclusive learning environment that allows all students to succeed and progress at their own pace.
Key components of differentiated instruction include.
- Assessment of readiness: teachers assess students' prior knowledge, skills, and readiness to learn a particular topic, allowing for adjustments in the level of challenge and support provided.
- Flexible grouping: students are grouped based on their learning needs, interests, or abilities. This can include small group work, one-on-one instruction, or collaborative learning experiences.
- Varied instructional strategies: teachers employ a range of instructional methods and materials to address diverse learning styles. This might involve visual aids, hands-on activities, technology, or other approaches to engage students.
- Adjustment of content: the content of the curriculum is modified to meet the needs of individual students. This could involve providing additional resources for advanced learners or simplifying materials for those who need more support.
- Differentiated assessment: assessments are varied to accommodate different learning styles and abilities. This may include alternative forms of assessment, such as projects, portfolios, or performance tasks.
- Flexible pacing: students progress through the material at their own pace. Some students may need more time to grasp concepts thoroughly, while others may be ready to move on more quickly.
- Continuous monitoring and adjustment: teachers continually assess student progress and adjust their instruction accordingly. This ensures that interventions or extensions are implemented as needed.
- Individualised learning plans: some students may benefit from individualised plans that outline specific goals, accommodations, and strategies to support their learning.
The Technology-Based Method
A technology-based teaching method involves integrating various forms of technology into the instructional process to enhance and support the learning experience. This approach leverages digital tools, devices, and platforms to engage students, facilitate interactive learning, and provide access to diverse educational resources.
Teachers may use multimedia presentations, educational software, online simulations, and collaborative platforms to deliver content in dynamic and interactive ways. Additionally, technology can enable personalised learning experiences, allowing students to progress at their own pace and receive immediate feedback.
An online school such as CambriLearn inherently makes use of a technology-based teaching method as this form of education utilises virtual classrooms, video conferencing, and online forums to provide opportunities for remote learning and global collaboration.