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Instructional Methods Information

Instructional methods and teaching methods mean the same thing. They are
primarily descriptions of the learning objective oriented activities and flow of information between
teachers and students. Although some may argue otherwise, to split hairs over whether such
methods are meaningfully different adds nothing to the process of learning to be a teacher. Direct
and indirect instruction are two main categories that many educators find useful for classifying
teaching methods, but it is, as you will see, a bit more complicated than placing all instruction into
two categories. Any instructional method a teacher uses has advantages, disadvantages, and
requires some preliminary preparation. Often times, a particular teaching method will naturally flow
into another, all within the same lesson, and excellent teachers have developed the skills to make
the process seamless to the students. Which instructional method is "right" for a particular lesson
depends on many things, and among them are the age and developmental level of the students,
what the students already know, and what they need to know to succeed with the lesson, the
subject-matter content, the objective of the lesson, the available people, time, space and material
resources, and the physical setting. Another, more difficult problem is to select an instructional
method that best fits one's particular teaching style and the lesson-situation. There is no one "right"
method for teaching a particular lesson, but there are some criteria that pertain to each that can
help a teacher make the best decision possible. The methods are not listed in a preferred
sequence, no hierarchy of putative superiority of method is intended, and obviously, not all are
appropriate for all grades and subject matter content areas.

DIRECT TEACHING

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


Can stifle teacher Content must be organized in advance.
creativity. Teacher should have information about student
Requires well- prerequisites for the lesson.
organized content
Very specific learning targets. preparation and
Students are told reasons why good oral
content is important - helps to clarify communication
lesson objective. skills.
Relatively easy to measure student Steps must be
gains. followed in
Is a widely accepted instructional prescribed order.
method. May not be
Good for teaching specific facts and effective for higher-
basic skills. order thinking
skills, depending on
the knowledge base
and skill of the
teacher.

COOPERATIVE LEARNING
Advantages Disadvantages Preparation
Some students Decide what skills or knowledge are to be learned.
don't work well Requires some time to prepare students. to learn
this way. how to work in groups.
Loners find it
Helps foster mutual responsibility.
hard to share
Supported by research as an effective
answers.
technique.
Aggressive
Students learn to be patient, less critical and
students try to
more compassionate.
take over.
Bright students
tend to act
superior.

LECTURE

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


Factual material is presented in a direct, Proficient oral There should be a clear introduction and
logical manner. skills are summary.
May provide experiences that inspire necessary. Effectiveness related to time and scope of
- useful for large groups. Audience is often content.
passive. Is always audience specific; often includes
Learning is examples, anecdotes.
difficult to gauge.
Communication is
one-way.
Not appropriate
for children below
grade 4.

LECTURE WITH DISCUSSION

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


Involves students, at least after the lecture. Time constraints Teacher should be prepared to allow questions
Students can question, clarify and challenge. may affect during lecture, as appropriate.
Lecture can be interspersed with discussion. discussion Teacher should also anticipate difficult questions and
opportunities. prepare appropriate responses in advance.
Effectiveness is
connected to
appropriate
questions and
discussion; often
requires teacher
to "shift gears"
quickly.

PANEL OF EXPERTS
Advantages Disadvantages Preparation
Personalities Teacher coordinates focus of panel, introduces and
may overshadow summarizes.
content. Teacher briefs panel.
Experts are often
not effective
speakers.
Experts present different opinions. Subject may not
Can provoke better discussion than a one be in logical
person discussion. order.
Frequent change of speaker keeps Not appropriate
attention from lagging. for elementary
age students.
Logistics can be
troublesome.

BRAINSTORMING

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


Listening exercise that allows creative Can be Teacher selects issue.
thinking for new ideas. unfocused. Teacher must be ready to intervene when the process is
Encourages full participation because all Needs to be hopelessly bogged down.
ideas are equally recorded. limited to 5 - 7
Draws on group's knowledge and minutes.
experience. Students may
Spirit of cooperation is created. have difficulty
One idea can spark off other ideas. getting away
from known
reality.
If not managed
well, criticism
and negative
evaluation may
occur.
Value to
students
depends in part
on their
maturity level.

VIDEOTAPES/SLIDES
Advantages Disadvantages Preparation
Can raise too Need to obtain and set up equipment
many issues to Effective only if teacher prepares for
have a focused discussion after the presentation
Entertaining way of introducing content and discussion
raising issues Discussion may
Usually keeps group's attention not have full
Looks professional participation
Stimulates discussion Most effective
when following
discussion

DISCUSSION

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


Pools ideas and experiences from group Not practical Requires careful planning by teacher to guide
Effective after a presentation, film or with more that discussion
experience that needs to be analyzed 20 students Requires question outline
Allows everyone to participate in an active A few students
process can dominate
Some students
may not
participate
Is time
consuming
Can get off the
track

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


Needs careful Need to prepare specific tasks or questions
Allows for participation of everyone thought as to for group to answer
Students often more comfortable in small purpose of group
groups Groups may get
Groups can reach consensus side tracked<<p>

CASE STUDIES
Advantages Disadvantages Preparation
Students may Case must be clearly defined
not see Case study must be prepared
relevance to
own situation
Develops analytic and problem solving skills Insufficient
Allows for exploration of solutions for information can
complex issues lead to
Allows student to apply new knowledge and inappropriate
skills results
Not appropriate
for elementary
level

ROLE PLAYING

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


Some students Teacher has to define problem situation and roles
Introduces problem situation dramatically may be too self- clearly
Provides opportunity for students to assume conscious Teacher must give very clear instructions
roles of others and thus appreciate another Not appropriate
point of view for large groups
Allows for exploration of solutions Some students
Provides opportunity to practice skills may feel
threatened

WORKSHEET/SURVEYS

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


Allows students to think for themselves without Can be used Teacher has to prepare handouts
being influenced by others only for short
Individual thoughts can then be shared in large period of time
group

GUEST SPEAKERS

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


May not be a Contact speakers and coordinate
Personalizes topic good speaker Introduce speaker appropriately
Breaks down audience's stereotypes

VALUES CLARIFICATION

Advantages Disadvantages Preparation


Students may not be Teacher must carefully prepare exercise
honest about their Teacher must give clear instructions
values. Teacher must prepare discussion questions
Students may be too
Opportunity to explore values and beliefs self-conscious.
Allows students to discuss values in a safe Students may not be
environment able to articulate their
Gives structure to discussion values in an effective
way.