Approaches to teaching and learning at the PU Level

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Approaches to teaching and learning at the PU Level



This module is prepared to help you

  1. Understand the meaning of terms such as model, strategy and method
  2. Undersstand the variety of methods that a lecturer could employ in teaching
  3. Develope a critical understanding of some important methods or teaching at PU level

What is an Instructional Model?

Every P U college lecturer wants to be rated as an effective teacher. Effective teaching has more to do with context-driven decisions about learners, content and teaching than to following one set of general steps. Effective teachers, you would know from your observation of teachers, do not perform in a routine way but change their approach according to the teaching situation. According to Glickman, (1991), effective teachers are aware of various approaches that are available for organizing learning. They introspect about what they did or did not do, observe which students learn or do not learn, and, try to readjust their practices.

Instructional Models

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An Instructional Model or a Model of Teaching is a representation of the philosophical orientation to instruction. Since it refers to the philosophical orientation, it is the broadest perspective of teaching. A models can be further specified as 'strategies', 'methods',and skills of teaching or instruction. The terms teaching and instruction differ only to the extent that instruction is in the context of classroom where as teaching is generic. Instructional models are based on a definite stand point, belief or theory about how learning occurs. Major theoretical orientations on which teaching models are based are: behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism. As you know there are several theories that explain how learning occurs and all of them can be catagorised under one or the other model of teaching. Some examples of learning theories are oparant conditioning, adult learning theory, transformative learning, social cognition, learning by insight, etc.

Click here to know more about theories of learning

[Index of Learning Theories and Models]

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You may also see this video on learning theories[[1]]

Instructional Strategies

While adhering to a model of teaching, a lecturer may employ more than one approaches to achieve learning objectives. These approaches are referred to as strategies of teaching or instrictional strategies. Literature on teaching would reveal that the Strategies can be classed as direct, indirect, interactive, experiential, or independent.
  1. Direct Instruction The direct instruction strategy is one in which the teacher plays a dominant role and he/she is found to be directing every single activity that occurs in the classroom. This strategy includes methods such as lecture, didactic questioning, explicit teaching, practice and drill, and demonstrations. The strategies of direct instruction are appropriate if a teacher seeks to provide information to the students on a subject or wants to develope hierarchical skills. Teachers have also employed the strategy of direct instruction for introducing a method or task. If a lecturer is highly skilled in oral communication, he/she may use direct insstruction for involving students in knowledge construction.
  2. Indirect Instruction If direct instruction is teacher centered and fully directed by the teacher, indirect instruction is normally referred to those approaches where a students are at the centre of instruction and they decide the flow of learning. Some well known methods of indirect instruction are Inquiry learning, inductive method, problem solving, and discovery learning.
  3. Interactive instructionAs the name would suggest, interactive instruction is the strategy of a lecturer who believes in discussion and sharing among participants. In implimenting interactive instruction, a teacher may employ total class discussions, small group discussions, and projects.
  4. Experiential learning Experiential learning is inductive, learner centred, and activity oriented. You are aware how important it is to experience something directly when one has to learn something. Since experiencing is a process rather than a product or outcome, it may not be wrong to say that this strategy emphasises the process of learning. The experiential learning strategy employs Personalized reflection and formulation of plans to apply learnings to other situations as critical requirements in learning. According to McNeil & Wiles (1990), "experiential learning greatly increases understanding and retention in comparison to methods that solely involve listening, reading, or even viewing". You would agree that the students are more motivated when they actively participate and engage themselves in sharing their experiences.
  5. Independent study At the college level, students have a fully developed capacity to learn on their own. In fact, they do learn things independantly. Independent study refers to the range of instructional methods that are based on individual student initiative, self-reliance, and self-improvement. If viewed flexibly, independent study can also include learning with a class mate or as member of a small group.

Instructional Methods

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Methods are used by teachers to create learning environments and to specify the nature of the activity in which the teacher and learner will be involved during the lesson. While particular methods are often associated with certain strategies, some methods may be found within a variety of strategies. The diagram given here is a Typology of Padagogical Methods based on three distinct criteria namely, Learner Activity, Cognitive Emphasis and Use of Experience/Experimentation.

Levels of Learner Involvement in Different Methods

Below is a sample of techniques categorized according to participant involvement (Cafarrella, 2002)

Levels of Learner Involvement
Low Involvement Medium Involvement High Involvement
Lecture, Panel discussion, Demonstration, Computer-based drills, Computer-based tutorials, Socratic dialogue,


Group discussion, Behavior modeling, Observation, Reflective practice--blogs, journals, Asynchronous online forums

E-mail and listservs, Audio/Video conferencing, 3D Interactive Learning Activities.

Role play, Debates, Case studies, Simulations, WebQuests, Internet searches, Concept mapping, Trial and error, Storytelling, Jigsaw, Educational gaming, Second Life—Sims, Real-time relay chats, In-basket exercises, Structured experiences, Problem-based learning, Project-Based Learning, Collaborative Learning, Inquiry Learning.


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Try to answer the following questions.

  1. A lecturer is found to be directing every single activity that occurs in the classroom. Which approach has he/she employed
  2. Name any four methods of indirect instruction.
  3. Between Direct Instruction and Experiential Learning, which instructional strategy produces more lasting learning?
  4. What is meant by independent study?

Teacher and Student Roles in Different Methods of Teaching
Class of methods Role of teacher Role of students
Mass instruction

(Conventional lectures and taught lessons; film and video presentations; educational broadcasts; mass practical and studio work)

Traditional expository role; controller of all aspects of instruction process (style, content, pace, etc.) Largely passive; virtually totally dependent on what they get from the teacher, video, demonstrator etc.
Individualised learning

(Directed study of texts, study of open-learning materials; mediated self-instruction; CBL; multimedia; assignments, projects, etc.)

Producer/manager of learning resources; tutor and guide, providing support to students when required. Largely responsible for their own learning; individual students control their own pace of learning, depth of study, etc.
Group learning

(Buzz sessions; class discussions; seminars; group tutorials; games and simulations; group projects; etc.

Organiser of group activity; facilitator of learning experience (largely supportive role). Largely responsible for their own learning, but also strongly dependent on one another's preparation and interaction.

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  1. How to Plan and Deliver Lectures [[2]]
  2. Making Effective Use Of Student-Centered Learning Methods [[3]]
  3. Making Effective Use Of Group-Learning Methods [[4]]
  4. Producing Paper-Based Teaching Learning Material [[5]]


Let us Explore the Lecture Method


The lecture method, you would agree, is the most widely used in college classrooms. Although the usefulness of other teaching strategies is being widely examined today, the lecture still remains an important way to communicate information at the preuniversity level. Used in conjunction with teaching strategies in which the learner is involved in active learning, the traditional lecture can be an effective way to achieve instructional goals. The advantages of the lecture approach are that it provides a way to communicate a large amount of information to many listeners, maximizes instructor control and is non-threatening to students. The disadvantages are that a lecturer hardly gets feedback from students, assumes an unrealistic level of student understanding and comprehension, and often disengages students from the learning process causing information to be quickly forgotten. The following recommendations can help make the lecture approach more effective (Cashin, 1990):

  1. Fit the lecture to the audience
  2. Focus your topic - remember you cannot cover everything in one lecture
  3. Prepare an outline that includes 5-9 major points you want to cover in one lecture
  4. Organize your points for clarity
  5. Select appropriate examples or illustrations
  6. Present more than one side of an issue and be sensitive to other perspectives
  7. Repeat points when necessary
  8. Be aware of your audience - notice their feedback
  9. Be enthusiastic - you don’t have to be an entertainer but you should be excited by your topic.

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Following article may help you in better understanding about approaches to teaching [Classification of Instructional Approaches, Strategies and Methods]

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Study the following pages and identify the method you have not used but would like to use. State the reasons as to why you think that you should try that method. [[7]]

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