Teaching styles (methods)
There are many different styles or methods of teaching. Research I did showed at least 150 different styles from lecturing to brainstorming and vocabulary drills. I have identified the following styles as most often used: Demonstrations & Practicals/Experiments:
When teachers show learners skills while they watch, followed by the learners practicing the skill they’ve learnt. Additionally learners may observe and record results of what they have done ultimately explaining these results where experiments are involved.
According to Gordon Dryden and Dr Jeannette Vos, in their book “The New Learning Revolution” 2010, applying what has been learnt in purposeful, real-life situations, is a far better test of acquired knowledge than written tests. This method of instruction is therefore effective and suitable for all learning styles. Lecturing & note-giving or questioning:
This method entails the teacher telling learners about information or ideas while the learners listen. Additional information may accompany lectures in the form of written notes on a board that learners copy or hand-outs which they are required to read. Teachers may ask individual learners or the whole class questions. This method would be more effective when mind-maps are used instead of linear notes and even learners whom are print-orientated or linguistic would benefit by reinforcing information learnt with pictures or sounds incorporated through audio- or video tapes.
This method combines well with active learning strategies, may be used successfully to instruct a great number of learners simultaneously and grants the facilitator more control without being threatening to learners. Unfortunately it leaves little room for feedback from learners and the facilitator may have an unrealistic idea of the learners’ level of understanding. Many learners may become uninterested and forget much of the information. Brainstorming and discussions:
Learners try to come up with as many ideas as possible working in groups or as a class. Someone should make notes of all the ideas. Learners discuss and share their ideas in groups, with or without teacher participation or as a class.
Teachers should make sure that all learners participate. For this method to be effective, learners need to be able to identify and isolate the challenge or subject in question and ask the following questions suggested by Alex Osborn, pioneer teacher of creativity, to activate ideas: Can ‘it’ be substituted, combined, adapted, modified, magnified, put to other uses, eliminated, reduced, reversed or rearranged? Discussions take much preparation on the part of the facilitator and learners. Seminars:
This method requires learners to individually research a topic and to present this information or teach the rest of the class a skill. Preparation should be done in advance. Group work and cooperative learning:
Learners are required to work in groups, usually to produce something like a poster after finding out about a particular topic. This may take anything from one day to a few lessons or weeks. Cooperative learning requires planning, preparation and knowledge about group formation and management. Cooperative learning is not suitable for younger learners. Case Method:
May be combined with any other method of teaching to enhance learning, as it gives the opportunity to apply what is learnt in real-life situations. This method is instructional and engages student in discussions and practical applications. Many sources are available and may be combined with print- and broadcast media to enhance learning experiences and find solutions to problems. It adapts well to cooperative learning and role playing. It stimulates critical thinking and awareness of more than one correct answer or solution. Active learning:
A method allowing learners to talk, listen, read, write and reflect on content through problem-solving, case studies, role playing and other activities, all focused on applying what is learnt. As with the case method, learners are actively involved in the learning process and stimulate critical thinking and other perspectives. This method is not suitable for younger learners and assessing learners’ achievement is problematic.
Integration of technology:
Computer literacy is becoming increasingly important and should be incorporated in as many teaching techniques as possible to avoid learners’ literacy levels being too low to cope with tertiary demands. Distance learning:
Is a style of learning where the learner and facilitator are not in the same place at the same time. Distance learning incorporates on-line study and research requiring a reasonable level of computer literacy. This method is not suitable for younger learners.
Determining the preferred learning style of learners may remove the barrier between learners and facilitators and is thus of great importance. Main categories include visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Learning is influenced by thinking styles that, according to the University of Connecticut, are divided into four separate groups: Concrete sequential, concrete random, abstract random and abstract sequential. No style is better than the next and all are equally effective.
People have a combination of different intelligences correlating with their preferred styles of learning. The main style of preference is supported by at least one or two others in case the style of presentation is not matched. At least eight different intelligences have been identified by Howard Gardner and include verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, musical/rhythmical, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic. Verbal/linguistic:
Descriptive language stimulates these learners and assignments should include reading and writing etc. They learn by saying, hearing and seeing words. Logical/mathematical:
Enjoy categorizing, classifying and working with abstract patterns and relationships. Good inductive and deductive thinking and reasoning. Assignments should include numbers, logic, problem solving, abstractions and performing experiments. Musical/rhythmical:
These learners recognize tonal patterns and should sing or hum information to be memorized. Moving while they study would assist. Bodily/kinesthetic:
This form of intelligence is activated by the motor cortex and hands-on activities stimulate learning. They need to touch, move and interact with space. Interpersonal:
Communication and personal relationships are important.
These learners are often leaders and assignments require interviewing or co-operating with people and opportunity to mediate conflict as during debates. Intrapersonal:
Opposite of interpersonal and enjoys working alone. Self-based instruction and individual projects work best. Naturalist:
Provide visual activities and hands-on activities based on nature. Assign activities using ability to map, chart and measure observing plants and animals.
Personality also influence learning style and can be summarized into four different types: order seekers, debaters, groupies and loners. Order seekers:
Sequential thinkers in need of a syllabus, goals and clear objectives with knowledge dispersed to them, mostly logical/mathematical learners. Debaters:
Are abstract, random thinkers at their best when arguments contain a thesis, antithesis and synthesis, thus mostly verbal/linguistic learners. Groupies:
Need to work in co-operative learning groups and be constructively involved with hands-on experimental learning. Loner:
Engage in self paced learning and may not enjoy being in a room, listening to lectures etc., as they are self-directed, independent learners. In conclusion, no teacher will be able to reach and satisfy the personal likes and dislikes of all learners all the time, but providing as many different teaching strategies as possible will facilitate effective learning for a greater number of learners most of the time. In the end, education means facilitating learning. . .
The style I identify with:
My preferred style of learning depends on the study material to be mastered.
I identify with the verbal/linguistic learning style, although I prefer mind-maps using many colors instead of linear notes. I do not think I prefer logical/mathematical learning, but definitely need order in my mind-maps, as they always end up as straight or angular lines joining colorful blocks of information and never look like the trees they probably ought to.
When it comes to memorizing facts I use pictures connected to numbers, such as 1=bun and if the first fact to be remembered happens to be a tree shedding leaves, I would probably draw a picture of a bun-growing-tree dropping hot-cross-buns on plates or something completely ridiculous and will never need to think too hard to recall any information connected to it! As long as I involve color and imagination, I enjoy the learning process, thus the visual/spatial style come into play.
I hate writing and love moving, therefore I need to get up and stretch or walk around a little, every so often while studying. Listening to certain music is also helpful to me, although complete silence is equally welcome, but I do not need to turn information into a song and dance routine in order to memorize any of it. I am able to focus my attention and can study effectively in a very noisy area.
I guess when it comes to studying, I am a loner, as I prefer to work on my own, but need to make sense of what I learn the way groupies do. I therefore, classify myself as a fruit salad, incorporating certain aspects of many different learning styles to suit my complex character and learning preference. I have been studying this way for as long as I can remember and my greatest motivation is my own stubborn, stick-to-it-ivity!