Styles of Teaching

No two teachers are alike, and any teacher with classroom teaching experience will agree that their style of teaching is uniquely their own. An effective teaching style engages students in the learning process and helps them develop critical thinking skills. Traditional teaching styles have evolved with the advent of differentiated instruction, prompting teachers to adjust their styles toward students’ learning needs.

Fig1: Teaching Style Vs Students Learning Style – Match and Mismatch

Logically, the self-directed learner is a bad match for the “Authority/Expert” teacher, benefiting instead from a “Delegator” approach. The “Dependent Learner” needs the Authority Figure/Expert teacher, but would presumably be listless when matched with the “Delegator.”

What are the typical styles of teaching?

The following list of teaching styles highlights the five main strategies teachers use in the classroom, as well as the benefits and potential pitfalls of each respective teaching method.

Authority, or lecture style

The authority model is teacher-centered and frequently entails lengthy lecture sessions or one-way presentations. Students are expected to take notes or absorb information.

  • Pros: This style is acceptable for certain higher-education disciplines and auditorium settings with large groups of students. The pure lecture style is most suitable for subjects like history that necessitate memorization of key facts, dates, names, etc.
  • Cons: It is a questionable model for teaching children because there is little or no interaction with the teacher.

Demonstrator, or coach style

The demonstrator retains the formal authority role while allowing teachers to demonstrate their expertise by showing students what they need to know.

  • Pros: This style gives teachers opportunities to incorporate a variety of formats including lectures, multimedia presentations and demonstrations.
  • Cons: Although it’s well-suited for teaching mathematics, music, physical education, arts and crafts, it is difficult to accommodate students’ individual needs in larger classrooms.

Facilitator, or activity style

Facilitators promote self-learning and help students develop critical thinking skills and retain knowledge that leads to self-actualization.

  • Pros: This style trains students to ask questions and helps develop skills to find answers and solutions through exploration; it is ideal for teaching science and similar subjects.
  • Cons: Challenges teacher to interact with students and prompt them toward discovery rather than lecturing facts and testing knowledge through memorization.

Delegator, or group style

The delegator style is best-suited for curriculum that requires lab activities, such as chemistry and biology, or subjects that warrant peer feedback, like debate and creative writing.

  • Pros: Guided discovery and inquiry-based learning places the teacher in an observer role that inspires students by working in tandem toward common goals.
  • Cons: Considered a modern style of teaching, it is sometimes criticized as newfangled and geared toward teacher as consultant rather than the traditional authority figure.

Hybrid, or blended style

Hybrid, or blended style, follows an integrated approach to teaching that blends the teachers’ personality and interests with students’ needs and curriculum-appropriate methods.

  • Pros: Achieves the inclusive approach of combining teaching style clusters and enables teachers to tailor their styles to student needs and appropriate subject matter.
  • Cons: Hybrid style runs the risk of trying to be too many things to all students, prompting teachers to spread themselves too thin and dilute learning.

Because teachers have styles that reflect their distinct personalities and curriculum — from math and science to English and history — it’s crucial that they remain focused on their teaching objectives and avoid trying to be all things to all students.

Teaching Styles

  • Expert: Similar to a coach, experts share knowledge, demonstrate their expertise, advise students and provide feedback to improve understanding and promote learning.
  • Formal authority: Authoritative teachers incorporate the traditional lecture format and share many of the same characteristics as experts, but with less student interaction.
  • Personal model: Incorporates blended teaching styles that match the best techniques with the appropriate learning scenarios and students in an adaptive format.
  • Facilitator: Designs participatory learning activities and manages classroom projects while providing information and offering feedback to facilitate critical thinking.
  • Delegator: Organizes group learning, observes students, provides consultation, and promotes interaction between groups and among individuals to achieve learning objectives.

What teaching style is best for today’s students?

Whether you’re a first-year teacher eager to put into practice all of the pedagogical techniques you learned in college, or a classroom veteran examining differentiated instruction and new learning methodologies, consider that not all students respond well to one particular style. Although teaching styles have been categorized into five groups, today’s ideal teaching style is not an either/or proposition but more of a hybrid approach that blends the best of everything a teacher has to offer.

Here is a recap from the list of teaching methods described earlier.

  • Authority, or lecture style: This traditional, formal approach to teaching is sometimes referred to as “the sage on the stage.”
  • Demonstrator, or coach style: This style retains the formal authority role while allowing teachers to demonstrate their expertise by showing students what they need to learn.
  • Facilitator, or activity style: This approach encourages teachers to function as advisors who help students learn by doing.
  • Developer, or group style: This style allows teachers to guide students in a group setting to accomplish tasks and learn what works or doesn’t.
  • Hybrid, or blended style: This approach incorporates different aspects of the various styles and gives teachers flexibility to tailor a personal style that’s right for their coursework and students.

The traditional advice that teachers not overreach with a cluster of all-encompassing teaching styles might seem to conflict with today’s emphasis on student-centered classrooms. Theoretically, the more teachers emphasize student-centric learning the harder it is to develop a well-focused style based on their personal attributes, strengths and goals.

In short, modern methods of teaching require different types of teachers — from the analyst/organizer to the negotiator/consultant. Here are some other factors to consider as teachers determine the best teaching method for their students.

Empty vessel: Critics of the “sage on the stage” lecture style point to the “empty vessel” theory, which assumes a student’s mind is essentially empty and needs to be filled by the “expert” teacher. Critics of this traditional approach to teaching insist this teaching style is outmoded and needs to be updated for the diverse 21st-century classroom.

Active vs. passive: Proponents of the traditional lecture approach believe that an overemphasis on group-oriented participatory teaching styles, like facilitator and delegator, favor gifted and competitive students over passive children with varied learning abilities, thereby exacerbating the challenges of meeting the needs of all learners.

Knowledge vs. information: Knowledge implies a complete understanding, or full comprehension, of a particular subject. A blend of teaching styles that incorporate facilitator, delegator, demonstrator, and lecturer techniques helps the broadest range of students acquire in-depth knowledge and mastery of a given subject. This stands in contrast to passive learning, which typically entails memorizing facts, or information, with the short-term objective of scoring well on tests.

Interactive classrooms: Laptops and tablets, videoconferencing and podcasts in classrooms play a vital role in today’s teaching styles. With technology in mind, it is imperative that teachers assess their students’ knowledge while they are learning. The alternative is to wait for test results, only to discover knowledge gaps that should have been detected during the active learning phase.

Constructivist teaching methods: Contemporary teaching styles tend to be group focused and inquiry driven. Constructivist teaching methods embrace subsets of alternative teaching styles, including modeling, coaching, and test preparation through rubrics scaffolding. All of these are designed to promote student participation and necessitate a hybrid approach to teaching. One criticism of the constructivist approach is it caters to extroverted, group-oriented students, who tend to dominate and benefit from these teaching methods more than introverts; however, this assumes introverts aren’t learning by observing.

Student-centric learning does not have to come at the expense of an instructor’s preferred teaching method. However, differentiated instruction demands that teachers finesse their style to accommodate the diverse needs of 21st-century classrooms.

150 Teaching Methods

  1. Lecture by teacher (and what else can you do!)
  2. Class discussion conducted by teacher (and what else!)
  3. Recitation oral questions by teacher answered orally by students (then what!)
  4. Discussion groups conducted by selected student chairpersons (yes, and what else!)
  5. Lecture-demonstration by teacher (and then what 145 other techniques!)
  6. Lecture-demonstration by another instructor(s) from a special field (guest speaker)
  7. Presentation by a panel of instructors or students
  8. Presentations by student panels from the class: class invited to participate
  9. Student reports by individuals
  10. Student-group reports by committees from the class
  11. Debate (informal) on current issues by students from class
  12. Class discussions conducted by a student or student committee
  13. Forums
  14. Bulletin boards
  15. Small groups such as task oriented, discussion, Socratic
  16. Choral speaking
  17. Collecting
  18. Textbook assignments
  19. Reading assignments in journals, monographs, etc.
  20. Reading assignments in supplementary books
  21. Assignment to outline portions of the textbook
  22. Assignment to outline certain supplementary readings
  23. Debates (formal)
  24. Crossword puzzles
  25. Cooking foods of places studied
  26. Construction of vocabulary lists
  27. Vocabulary drills
  28. Diaries
  29. Dances of places or periods studied
  30. Construction of summaries by students
  31. Dressing dolls
  32. Required term paper
  33. Panel discussion
  34. Biographical reports given by students
  35. Reports on published research studies and experiments by students
  36. Library research on topics or problems
  37. Written book reports by students
  38. Flags
  39. Jigsaw puzzle maps
  40. Hall of Fame by topic or era (military or political leaders, heroes)
  41. Flannel boards
  42. Use of pretest
  43. Gaming and simulation
  44. Flash cards
  45. Flowcharts
  46. Interviews
  47. Maps, transparencies, globes
  48. Mobiles
  49. Audio-tutorial lessons (individualized instruction)
  50. Models
  51. Music
  52. Field trips
  53. Drama, role playing
  54. Open textbook study
  55. Committee projects–small groups
  56. Notebook
  57. Murals and montages
  58. Class projects
  59. Individual projects
  60. Quizdown gaming
  61. Modeling in various media
  62. Pen pals
  63. Photographs
  64. Laboratory experiments performed by more than two students working together
  65. Use of dramatization, skits, plays
  66. Student construction of diagrams, charts, or graphs
  67. Making of posters by students
  68. Students drawing pictures or cartoons vividly portray principles or facts
  69. Problem solving or case studies
  70. Puppets
  71. Use of chalkboard by instructor as aid in teaching
  72. Use of diagrams, tables, graphs, and charts by instructor in teaching
  73. Use of exhibits and displays by instructor
  74. Reproductions
  75. Construction of exhibits and displays by students
  76. Use of slides
  77. Use of filmstrips
  78. Use of motion pictures, educational films, videotapes
  79. Use of theater motion pictures
  80. Use of recordings
  81. Use of radio programs
  82. Use of television
  83. Role playing
  84. Sand tables
  85. School affiliations
  86. Verbal illustrations: use of anecdotes and parables to illustrate
  87. Service projects
  88. Stamps, coins, and other hobbies
  89. Use of community or local resources
  90. Story telling
  91. Surveys
  92. Tutorial: students assigned to other students for assistance, peer teaching
  93. Coaching: special assistance provided for students having difficulty in the course
  94. Oral reports
  95. Word association activity
  96. Workbooks
  97. Using case studies reported in literature to illustrate psychological principles and facts
  98. Construction of scrapbooks
  99. Applying simple statistical techniques to class data
  100. Time lines
  101. “Group dynamics” techniques
  102. Units of instruction organized by topics
  103. Non directive techniques applied to the classroom
  104. Supervised study during class period
  105. Use of sociometric text to make sociometric analysis of class
  106. Use of technology and instructional resources
  107. Open textbook tests, take home tests
  108. Put idea into picture
  109. Write a caption for chart, picture, or cartoon
  110. Reading aloud
  111. Differentiated assignment and homework
  112. Telling about a trip
  113. Mock convention
  114. Filling out forms (income tax, checks)
  115. Prepare editorial for school paper
  116. Attend council meeting, school boar meeting
  117. Exchanging “things”
  118. Making announcements
  119. Taking part (community elections)
  120. Playing music from other countries or times
  121. Studying local history
  122. Compile list of older citizens as resource people
  123. Students from abroad (exchange students)
  124. Obtain free and low cost materials
  125. Collect old magazines
  126. Collect colored slides
  127. Visit an “ethnic” restaurant
  128. Specialize in one country
  129. Follow a world leader (in the media)
  130. Visit an employment agency
  131. Start a campaign
  132. Conduct a series
  133. Investigate a life
  134. Assist an immigrant
  135. Volunteer (tutoring, hospital)
  136. Prepare an exhibit
  137. Detect propaganda
  138. Join an organization
  139. Collect money for a cause
  140. Elect a “Hall of Fame” for males
  141. Elect a “Hall of Fame” for females
  142. Construct a salt map
  143. Construct a drama
  144. Prepare presentation for senior citizen group
  145. Invite senior citizen(s) to present local history to class including displaying artifacts (clothing, tools, objects, etc.)
  146. Prepare mock newspaper on specific topic or era
  147. Draw a giant map on floor of classroom
  148. Research local archaeological site
  149. Exchange program with schools from different parts of the state
  150. In brainstorming small group, students identify a list of techniques and strategies that best fit their class.

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