Improvisation: Students and Teachers' Roles


In its simplest sense, improvisation is the ability to react spontaneously, from moment to moment. This is the base for all definitions of improvisation. The ability to improvise is certainly esteemed, as it is related to resourcefulness. The attitudes towards improvisation are knowledge, culture and environment dependent, and differ from person to person, in place and time. It is an underlying fact that improvisation as an integral part of a teacher work


The term improvisation can be traced to the Latin word improviso, which means not seen before.

Here are some definitions of improvisation Improvisation is defined by the Free Online Dictionary means “to invent, compose, or perform with little or no preparation”, and also as “to perform or make quickly from materials and sources available, without previous planning”. Improvisation has also been defined by some academicians as intuition guiding action in a spontaneous way (Crossan & Sorrenti, 1997), and also been defined as “making the most of what you have and getting the most out of what you make” (Keefe, 2002).

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From the above definition we can deduce that improvisation is the ability to take existing pieces and put them together in a new combination for a purpose. The pieces could be bits of information about a problem or they could be parts of a melody. Teachers or students apply tools or methods to these pieces in a very flexible manner. In relation to education this means teachers try to supplement, substitute or device means in inadequate material and equipment to facilitate effective teaching and learning among the pupils.

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Improvisation and fabrication can be explained as composing a careful selection and use of material as an alternative means of complementing the existing or otherwise instructional materials /equipment in schools


We improvise daily in conversations driving, cooking; it involves in-depth knowledge of the subject area, creativity and resourcefulness Education in general can only be successful with reasonable availability and proper selection of equipment, facilities and supplies. However, the fact remains that it is virtually impossible to purchase or make all the equipment, facilities and supplies required for sound and quality education available, especially in this part of the world. This makes it imperative for teachers to think of how best to make use of their manipulative skills to improvise so as to achieve their lesson objective at least to a reasonable extent. When improvisation is used in teaching, students provide different responses throughout the class session, and the instructor does not evaluate any given response but instead facilitates the improvisation process among the students, with the goal of guiding them toward discovery of their own knowledge (Sawyer, 2003).

Instructional materials ensure that the learners see, hear, feel, recognise and appreciate as they learn, utilising the five senses modalities at the same time. When the real material and equipment are not available, improvisation becomes the next option as improvisation will take their place. This is to enhance the teaching- learning process as well as makeup for the expensive nature of scientific equipment, the difficulty experienced in procuring them as well as the excruciating and persistent problem of in adequate of funds. It is a fact that non provision of real material and equipment have all combined to worsen the teaching of science and technology education in schools. But with well packaged and relevant improvisation, the arbitrary and complete abstract of the subject matter in the face of the learner is significantly reduced to lend credence to the importance and essence of improvisation where and when the real instructional materials are not on hand.

Perhaps counter intuitively it is the very presence of restrictions that fosters new possibilities, eg a cook improvises a dist without the recipe or by creating the food available in the refrigerator, a jazz musician improvises a new riff, building of his existing knowledge of music, his prior experience playing the trumpet, and the notes and tempos created in the moment by fellow musicians. In all these examples, a constant and resources becomes a resource in itself. A teacher is said to have used educational technology approach if he improvises materials for making teaching and learning more meaningful if he remodels imported teaching materials to suit our local industries to products from our local industries to produce materials for teaching and learning. The 6-3-3-4 system of education in Nigeria will succeed if teachers develop skills of improvisation. Some examples of improvised teaching/learning materials are as follows

A periscope
Teaching illustrations
Teaching models
Animated boards
Pinhole camera
Teaching machines


A teacher is somebody who teaches especially as a profession and in a class senerio will be the person who the improvisation is anchored upon 1) It is important to know and understand how student improvise. Perkins (1998) defines understanding as a very active concept where students have to act on their new knowledge in a flexible way. This requires putting new components together in novel ways, improvising for solutions. 2) The value of understanding the structure of the information in this case is that the teacher should make sure that the students have all of the individual skills and competencies and then provide situations for the students to practice and perform their abilities to solve problems. Solving problems requires the students to improvise. 3) They should be modest on the improvised materials.

The activites should speak for themselves through the factual statements made about them 4) The teacher should use good judgement in what he improvises in terms of gender, race, tribes and religion among others. 5) The improvised materials should be legible enough for the students to see. 6) The teacher should not project situations of improvisations of impossibility there by conveying the notion of impossibilities 7) The teacher sometimes replaces a costly and sophisticated piece of equipment by a simple item by improvising with accuracy to some extent. 8) The teacher gives assignment and ask the students to find examples of those concepts in use from the media or literature


The student is the person studying and learning and it is for him or her benefit the improvisation is created 1) Students are encouraged into creative thinking and students help in becoming better at interviews, meeting and surviving in the professional work 2) Improvisation by students builds confidence in decision making and self-esteem. 3) Students develop effective problem solving techniques by improvisation 4) Improvisation helps the students in perception and retention of information and knowledge 5) Students to develop the ability to read analyse and understand issues. 6) students attain good communication skills and helping to organise their own experiences and body of knowledge 7) It enables the students to have direct contact with the realities of their social and physical environment


Through improvisation, students' attention are captured and retained for the better part of the lesson. Since they serve as educational materials, students' interest in the topic that is being learnt is stimulated, therefore bring about meaningful and interesting learning. Learning is more permanent and there is development of skill in the psychomotor domain.

1. Cazen, Courtney B. 1988. Classroom Discourse: The Language of Teaching and Learning. Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH. LB 1033 .C34 1988. 2. Sawyer, Keith 2001. Creating Conversation: Improvisations in Everyday Discourse. Hampton Press. 3. Robotham, D. (1999). The application of learning style theory in higher education. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from 4. The Punch Newspaper. Monday June 20, 2011. Retrieved from the online archive from
5. Olayiwola M. A. (1996) Improvisational of instructional materials for schools and colleges in the year 2000; A journal of Educational studies C.O.E Gindiri

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Improvisation: Students and Teachers' Roles. (2017, Jan 26). Retrieved from

Improvisation: Students and Teachers' Roles essay
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