Methods of Teaching in the Classroom

Updated on Nov 18, 2011

Instructional Techniques

Having decided which of the basic formats a lesson will involve, you must next decide which of many instructional techniques would be most appropriate for the particular situation. Issues such as the developmental level of the students, the instructional venue (indoors, outdoors, individual desks, tables and chairs for group work, etc.), and the subject matter to be presented must be considered. Generally speaking, there are eight categories of techniques from which a teacher might choose. As has previously been the case, the teacher may well determine that a combination of techniques would be most appropriate.

As you read through the techniques, consider that we have arranged them in terms of increasing sophistication of the thinking required of students. This is not to say that any one of the techniques is inappropriate for particular ages. After all, you can probably remember being lectured to by your parents at one time or another in your life, and you likely discovered some things on your own even as a young child. However, when planning for educational experiences, teachers need to identify the level of cognitive processing they want to engage and select the technique that best encourages that level of thinking (Lasley, Matczynski, & Rowley, 2002). Our list of techniques parallels Bloom's Taxonomy, the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives Handbook I: Cognitive Domain (Bloom, Englehart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956). The taxonomy begins with the least sophisticated level of processing, that being the recall of knowledge and facts, and progresses to the highest level, thinking that involves evaluative processes.

The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Cognitive Domain

Cognitive Skill

Verbs that characterize the skill

Knowledge Label, list, match, recall, select, state, underline
Comprehension Describe, explain, interpret, summarize, paraphrase
Application Complete, organize, solve, calculate, compute, use
Analysis Categorize, classify, find patterns and relationships, compare
Synthesis Compose, create, formulate, hypothesize, write

Judge based on criteria, support, conclude

Direct Instruction

We list direct instruction in the teaching of skills as the lowest level of our taxonomy of instructional techniques because in this case the teacher decides what is important for the students to know and specifically explains or demonstrates a skill, and the student attempts to replicate it. There is very little abstraction involved here, though that is by no means intended to imply that the task is a simple one. As children struggle to reproduce the letters of the alphabet, they need all the concentration and control they can muster. Similarly, the high school student performing the steps of an experiment can be very focused and intent. Nonetheless, the demands for deep understanding and recombining of information on the part of the student are minimal in a direct instruction format. The emphasis is clearly on the acquiring of information or procedural skills.

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