Teaching and Learning Strategies

People have different preferences for how they receive new information. Some people prefer to listen to somebody explaining it. Some people prefer watching a demonstration or visual clues(charts and diagrams). Others prefer written instructions (manual or textbook) or performing the activity. Effective teaching uses multiple modalities. Knowledge of variety of teaching strategies/models and the flexibility to change them for a specific learning outcome is an asset a teacher must have.

Nine facets of Brain Compatible Learning (adapted from Brain Compatible Learning for the Block, by Williams and Dunn) are :

  1. Personal context – links to real-life
  2. Motivation
  3. Senses and emotions involved during the learning process
  4. Learning environment
  5. Recall (Retrieval)
  6. Linking new information to prior knowledge
  7. Hands-on experience
  8. Scaffolding
  9. Review

Understanding learning strategies/models provide teachers an organised system for creating appropriate learning environment, planning instructional activities for  the lesson.

Depending on what you are teaching, you can choose to implement any of the below strategies  or a mix of strategies that will best meet the goals you have for your students in class.

Teaching and Learning Strategies/models :

Didactic / Direct

Didactic or Direct Instruction is a method of teaching in which the teacher gives instructions in a very explicit manner. Clear goals/expectations are set by teachers to measure students performance. It is a traditional teacher-centered model in which students learn from presentations or demonstrations by the teacher. This method follows a step-by-step procedure which could look something like : Introduction, Rationale, Instruction, Summary and Assessment.

Students Role
  • Depend on teachers for instructions
  • Acquire information passively
  • Poor retention of concepts
  • Learn skills rapidly as they are getting direct instructions from teachers
Teachers role
  • Teacher is ‘sage on the stage’ – the master of the subject
  • Careful monitoring of students’ outcomes
  • Consistent use of classroom organisation and management tools
  • In control of – content or skill to be learned, pace/rhythm of the lesson, introducing new skills or content
  • Deliver the knowledge and information, assign work and leave it to students to master the content.
  • Must be well organised
Pros
  • Clear goals and expectations
  • Works well at lower levels of Blooms taxonomy where students are expected to acquire new information or learn new concept
  • Less time consuming for large groups
  • Improves basic skills – remembering content
Cons
  • Disengaged students
  • Affects retention of the new concept/knowledge
  • Ineffective and Boring
  • Class time is focused on lecture rather than students
  • Too much information
  • No problem solving or critical thinking involved

Indirect /  Independent

Indirect / Independent strategies start with an unknown principle, the questions and activities lead to students discover a concept .

Students Role
  • Requires high level of student involvement
  • Students develop problem-solving skills
  • Provides opportunity for self-assessment via concept mapping, reflective discussions etc
  • Helps students understand cause and effect through trial and error
Teachers role
  • Facilitator, supporter and resource person
  • Arranges learning environment
  • Provides opportunity for student involvement
  • Provides feedback to students while they conduct the inquiry
Pros
  • Works well at higher levels of blooms taxonomy
  • Accommodates different learning styles (Differentiated)
Cons
  • Students may get off task due to lack of structure
  • Requires scaffolding
  • Teacher workload. Making assessments and figuring out how to plan in the future
  • Making appropriate assumptions about students prior knowledge
  • Students may get overwhelmed by the responsibility of the task.

Flipped Learning

Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach in which students use physical space of the classroom for collaborative activities, while the initial learning takes place in their own time at their own pace by watching videos, doing research and completing online tasks.

Students role
  • Opportunity to work at their own pace
  • Participant in their own learning process through active learning
Teachers role
  • Teacher is, a ‘guide on the side’ – a facilitator of learning
  • Promotes content and idea exploration through various activities.
Pros
  • Trivial gain in score
  • Student-centered learning
  • Promotes motivation and self-regulation
  • Class time is focused on student understanding and mastering the material through collaborative activities.
  • Can provide individualised instruction to students who need more support
Cons
  • Often students don’t like it.
  • HUGE drain of teacher’s time in creating resources.
  • Relies on preparation and trust that students will complete their lessons at home as asked.

Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning is a type of pedagogy in which skills, knowledge and experience are acquired outside a traditional classroom setting. It is based on experiential learning theory explored by John Dewey and Jean Piaget, which is based on the idea that learning is a process whereby knowledge is created through transformation of experience. According to Kolb, who further researched Dewey’s and Piaget’s theory and made it popular, the experiential learning is a continuous process of experience, reflection, conceptualisation and experimentation.

Students Role
  • Relate information to their ‘real life’.
  • Conduct field study to learn suitability of theory
  • Learn by exploring or finding information (inquiry) and utilise that information to solve the factual problems
  • Collaborative working
  • Demonstrate performance and accountability of their work
Teachers role
  • Design the task to achieve a particular competence
  • Describe the study materials which link theory to the real situation in daily life
  • Make instructions for students in finding solutions assigned or chosen by themselves
  • Facilitate and conduct coaching and assessment process
Pros
  • Helps establish lasting behaviour change
  • Increased engagement/ motivation of students
  • Better long-term memory
  • Leads to deeper understanding
  • Hands-on experience
  • Develops employability skills such as problem solving, communication, critical thinking etc
Cons
  • Costly
  • Longer study hours
There are many different design models for experiential learning : 
Contextualised learning , Project-based learning, 
Problem-based learning, Case-based learning, Inquiry-based learning

Blended Learning

Blended Learning is a method which combines different teaching strategies with variety of resources and technology in teaching and learning. The blended learning environment has clear instructions, slides or videos with transcripts that students can watch again and again until they understand a concept, self-assessment quizzes in different formats and problem sets that students can try on their own.

Students Role
  • Work at their own pace
  • Can go through lessons and quizzes when and where they want
Teachers role
  • Provider of knowledge by creating various resources that can be used in and outside classroom.
  • In class – coach and facilitator of learning, discussion and collaboration
  • Outside class – Designer of resources
Pros
  • Inclusive – Differentiated learning for students at their own pace.
  • Flexible
  • Increases engagement with the topic
Cons
  • Time to prepare all the resources.

There are some courses/resources that can help you get started on Blended Learning :

Future learn – Getting started on Blended Learning

Future Learn – Blended Learning Essentials: Embedding Practice

https://www.sophia.org/tutorials/role-of-teacher-and-student-in-blended-learning-3

Teaching is both an art and science. A good teacher makes decision from both a technical and creative perspective. I have personally tried most of them in my classroom and can easily flip between them as and when required. The real artistry lies in using the right tool for the right job!