Innovative Teaching Methods & Strategies for an Enhanced Teaching-Learning Experience
According to the Indian Government’s latest Annual UDISE+ Report, there are 26,52,35,830 (over 26 crore) students enrolled in schools across India. India is one of the largest education systems in the world. In the ever-evolving and growing landscape of Indian K-12 education, effective teaching methods and strategies play a pivotal role in shaping the future of millions of students. With a diverse student population of varying socio-economic backgrounds, there are often disparities in learning outcomes across different states and regions. The need for effective teaching methods is more crucial than ever to bridge these gaps.
With a constant demand for quality education, educators in India face unique challenges that require innovative approaches to teaching. This page will delve into the various teaching methods and strategies employed by educators in India’s K-12 schools. The aim is to provide educators, parents, and policymakers with insights into the strategies that can help improve the overall quality of education in India.
By understanding and implementing effective teaching methods and strategies, we can work towards enhancing the educational experience for students and ensuring that they are better prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.
What are Teaching Methods?
Teaching methods are systematic approaches and strategies employed by educators to impart knowledge, skills, and values to students. These methods encompass a wide range of instructional techniques and tools used to facilitate effective learning experiences in the classroom. They play a fundamental role in shaping how information is conveyed, absorbed, and retained by students, ultimately influencing their overall academic performance and understanding of various subjects. Basically, teaching methods are a list of teaching strategies that an educator can use to ensure a deep understanding of concepts and better retention of knowledge for the students.
Importance of Teaching Methods
With shrinking attention spans and high digital exposure, the right teaching methods can help students engage with a topic, understand it and be able to see its usefulness in real life. By choosing appropriate and innovative teaching methods, educators can make the learning experience easy and enjoyable for their students and, at the same time, help them develop useful social skills for life. With teaching strategies more aligned to the required outcome, educators can guide their students in mastering the concept and applying it practically in specific situations. Some of these teaching strategies became extremely useful during the pandemic when educators and students could not rely on direct instruction.
2 Main Categories of Teaching Methods
Teaching methods can be divided into two broad categories:
- Teacher-Centred Approach – In this approach, the teacher is the central figure who delivers knowledge to a student. This could be done through traditional instruction-based teaching, assessments, and reviews. Here, the teacher is the active giver, and the student is the receiver of knowledge. Methodologies under this approach include different styles of classroom instruction, practice and tests.
- Student-Centred Approach – Under this approach, the student actively participates in gaining knowledge from the teacher, who acts as a facilitator and guide. This approach’s methods include special projects, group participation, class participation, etc., where teaching and assessment is an ongoing process.
Both approaches consist of methodologies that fall on a high-to-low spectrum of technology. Low-tech methodologies like written assessments, classroom teamwork, hands-on projects, analytical papers, etc., hone a student’s ability to process information and develop individual skills. The use of devices, recorded lectures, and the use of the internet for research, project presentations, etc., on the other hand, are on the high-tech side, allowing for a wider range of knowledge.
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25 Teaching Methods and Strategies
To help you find the right method for your students, we have put together a list of 25 key teaching strategies for you to choose from.
- Lecture-Based Learning
Lecture-based learning is the conventional method of teaching, where a teacher shares knowledge through material and visual cues on a given topic. A student observes, listens, takes notes and tries to process the information shared. The teacher would assign some part of the lecture to answer questions from students on the topic being taught, thus clarifying any doubts. This is a fairly low-tech approach where concepts can be shared via presentations and visual aids, while students lean on their longer attention spans and note-making skills.
- Direct Instruction
Slightly different from lecture-based learning, under the Direct Instruction approach, a teacher can divide the allotted lecture time into three segments. Sharing knowledge, making the students practice the concept under guidance and independent work with the concept by the students. Again, low on technology, this method has the students work on the concept immediately after understanding, thereby strengthening their fundamental grasp of the topic.
- Flipped Classroom
An evolved teaching structure where teachers share pre-recorded lectures, and texts to peruse on a given topic as pre-study material. The students work with it at their own pace. Classroom time is then used to discuss understanding, answer questions and engage in activities on the application of the acquired knowledge. Thus flipping the practice of classwork and homework. This flipped classroom method requires both teachers and students to have access to devices and be comfortable with using digital technology for learning.
- Kinesthetic Learning
A teaching methodology where the teacher moves around the classroom and has the students engage in activities. Also referred to as hands-on learning, this method utilises drawing, building, acting, role-playing and project work in groups or individually to keep students engaged. Students experience the concepts, their challenges and applicability firsthand. This method is also a great low-tech method that requires only physical props or materials and no digital or virtual setup. Another advantage of this method is that instead of using technology, students learn the concepts using their physical and mental skills, enjoying a total involvement with the concept being taught.
- Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge
The depth of knowledge methodology is a four-level strategy to ensure a deeper understanding of the concepts being taught.
- The first level requires students to be able to Recollect and Reproduce the concept being taught. This usually is the basic framework such as a formula.
- The second level requires the Application of the said framework to a given problem or scenario. This requires the students to work through the problem in a step-wise approach and apply the formula at the right stage.
- The third level involves Strategic Thinking on the part of the student where they are given more abstract scenarios to work through than the previous stage. Here, they use an individualised approach to solve the problem and might come up with different ways of solving it.
- The fourth level is that of Extended Critical Thinking. At this stage, the students justify and reason out their approach and why they chose it particularly. They go over their considerations and their subsequent solutions to what are sometimes similar to real-world problems.
- Summative Assessment
These are the standard end-of-unit tests that check the degree to which the students have understood the topics covered and how to apply them. Educators assign grades to students based on their performance through this assessment. Though sometimes stressful for students, these are good markers of a student’s broad understanding of the topics covered in the classroom. This tool can be completely low-tech or be aided by technology, at the discretion of the school and the educator.
- Formative Assessment
In ways the opposite of Summative assessment, the formative assessment method works on gauging the student’s grasp on the topic being covered at the end of class and before moving on to the next topic. This helps educators identify any gaps in the lessons and, at the same time, inform them if certain students need more personalised or one-on-one time for a better understanding of the concept. This method is extremely low-tech in the form of class tests or a viva at the end of a lesson.
- Blended Learning
As the name suggests, this method is the middle ground between traditional lecture-style teaching and the online technology-driven style of studying. This hybrid teaching strategy combines classroom instruction, digital research, use of technology for assessment and project work. While being physically in a classroom, teaching material can be accessed virtually through smart classroom devices. Teachers use technology to teach or explain concepts and submissions are made through devices. The blended learning method allows for both in-person interaction of the students with their teachers and peers and, at the same time, uses collaborative tech for projects and assessments. The students can further seek individual time with their educators for clarifications or inputs, making this a more Student-centric approach.
- Differentiated Instruction
Initially devised to ensure equal education to children of all backgrounds and learning needs, the differentiated instruction method promotes an inclusive learning environment for all students. Based on the premise that different students learn differently, this strategy utilises several teaching tools such as books, activities, prompts and visual aids to connect with all learners. Assessments are also made through a combination of tools, giving all students of a mixed-ability class a fair opportunity to apply their learnings.
- Inquiry-based Learning
Largely a student-centric teaching method, Inquiry-based learning requires a student to explore and investigate a topic, seeking answers through multiple sources and active research. The teacher plays the role of a facilitator, guiding the student through the process. An educator’s focus in this method is on the direction of enquiry, resources used, as well as the process followed. The student, by actively engaging, gets in-depth knowledge on the subject. They enjoy being able to pursue their interest while the educator instils the important skills of critical thinking in the student.
- Expeditionary Learning
Literally meaning learning-through-expeditions, this teaching method involves students being able to apply concepts learned in the classroom to practical, real-world scenarios. This could be in the form of field trips, outdoor group activities, nature exploration, or real-life experiments, giving students a holistic experience. Students gain practical experience and, at the same time, the opportunity to work on multifaceted problem solutions. This helps them build collaborative skills, teamwork and key personal attributes for life.
- Personalised Learning
A fairly new approach, the Personalised Learning Strategy allows students to create their own study plan based on personal interest and familiarity with the concept. Also known as Competency-based Learning, Students can work at their own pace and finish lessons as per their own competency with the subject. Teachers engage regularly on a one-on-one basis to address doubts and questions, suggesting useful resources, practice tests and giving specific assessments. This is progress and an interest-based approach. On one hand, it allows students to work beyond their grade and, on the other, it helps students facing difficulty to catch up with their class. Strongly student-centric, this approach is fairly high-tech as it requires students to access extra learning material beyond the classroom.
- Game-Based Learning
As the name suggests, this teaching strategy uses games (digital or non-digital) to help students master soft skills and, at the same time, build a better understanding of the concept application. Extremely engaging for students, this method keeps them going with the possibility of winning points or badges, fulfilling quests and using their skills in a gamified environment. Students internalise insights without a lot of effort through the immersive aspect, inherent to games. They also learn to make choices, problem-solve and think independently to navigate various stages of the game.
- Group Learning
A teaching strategy that fosters collaboration, Group Learning requires students to work in groups towards a common goal. It teaches them valuable skills such as teamwork, insight sharing, building on ideas, active participation, working towards a common goal and ownership. Also known as Collaborative Learning, it requires students to research, discuss and divide tasks before collectively arriving at the outcome. The outcome is then shared with the teacher and the rest of the class in the form of a presentation. This method also teaches students to be open to critique by their peers and answer questions on the process and choices made. The teacher’s role here is that of a guide, supervising the process and providing feedback on the outcome.
- Role Playing
Slightly different from game-based learning and group learning, this teaching method assigns specific roles to the students as they work together in a structured manner. Role-playing helps students build empathy while developing an understanding of real-life scenarios and situations. This method ensures active participation from students. By rotating different roles, students can begin to gain deeper insights into the dynamics of teamwork, responsibility and relationships. The teacher does the job of a facilitator in this learning technique, which is also known as Cooperative Learning.
- Project-Based learning
Project-based learning can either be a group activity or an individual project. In this method, students apply concepts learned in the classroom to solve a problem or deliver a specific outcome. These projects can be multidisciplinary and might require students to use concepts learned in one subject to deliver a desired outcome in another field. Being long-term and in-depth in nature, this teaching method helps students hone their soft skills, enhance their critical thinking and practice concept applicability. This is a student-centric approach, with the students playing an active role in choosing, designing and executing the projects.
- Thinking-Based Learning
This teaching method pushes the students towards ‘Critical and Creative thinking’. Thinking-based learning gets the students to understand the ‘Why’ behind the application of the concepts learned in the classroom. This is a kind of post-analysis style of learning where once the students have applied their learnings to an actual project, they begin to analyse what worked (or didn’t) and why. This helps clarify and strengthen the theoretical knowledge of students in practical scenarios.
- Discussion-Based Learning
Discussion-based learning can be used in smaller groups or as a directed classroom discussion strategy. The educator picks a concept and plays the role of a moderator, moving the discussion along, finding the gaps and leading students to a broad conclusion. A key method to build quick information processing, collaboration, building evidence and sharp reasoning skills amongst students. Discussion-based learning also helps students build their listening and communication skills.
- Flexible Seating
Specifically useful teaching strategy for younger kids who are just starting school at the primary level. Young children find it difficult to remain in the structured seating of a formal classroom, making them fidgety and easily attention fatigued. Moving around and engaging kinaesthetically in the learning process with the option of different seating such as beanbags, floor seating, and different levels of stools and chairs, keeps their attention on the lesson being taught instead of fussing about having to be still in one place.
- Active Learning
Active learning is a teaching strategy that puts the student into the driving seat in a classroom lesson. This is a combination technique where initially, an educator outlines and explains the concept and then allows the students to switch roles. With activities such as peer-to-peer teaching, the muddiest point technique, and reciprocal questioning, the educator lets the students play an active role in clarifying doubts for their peers, explaining the toughest points to each other and playing the role of the teacher by questioning other students to strengthen their understanding of the concept. Not only can this teaching method be very engaging for the students, but it also helps them break down complex concepts in a way that is easier for them to retain.
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- Response to Intervention
A method that promotes a more inclusive classroom environment, this teaching strategy focuses on frequent intervention and learning assessment for students with different learning needs. As a response to the increased intervention, students find it easier to keep up with the rest of the class. Another advantage of this method is that it reduces the stress of assessment on all students due to their informal and frequent nature.
- Convergent and Divergent Thinking
Two countering methods to enhance problem-solving through critical, strategic and creative thinking amongst students. Convergent thinking uses multiple pieces of information that converge on a single solution, while divergent thinking uses a single prompt to generate multiple solutions to the situations. The first is a function of sifting through all information to arrive at the most effective solution, while the second is the function of attacking a problem from all angles to find as many solutions as possible. Both have a place in real-life scenarios, preparing students to handle real-world challenges effectively.
- Reciprocal Teaching
Different from the reciprocal questioning tool under Active Learning, the Reciprocal Teaching method is a tool to promote reading amongst the students. It asks students to predict, paraphrase and summarise the text they are studying. Engaging students in activities like predicting the course of a plot breaks a lengthy read into many interesting twists and turns, building creative thinking and imagination amongst students. This strategy can also be applied to subjects like maths where students find it difficult to break down text-based mathematical problems. Paraphrasing the problem in their language gives the students a means to work out the solutions.
- Interdisciplinary Teaching
This teaching strategy requires students to take learnings from one subject and apply them to another real-world problem, of a different subject. Climate change with geography, mathematics with music, and physics with carpentry are just a few examples of this. The interdisciplinary teaching method helps students widen the scope of the concepts they are learning and how a lot of them can be practically applied to diverse problems thus finding lasting solutions. Tapping into a student’s interest and creativity makes this strategy strongly student-centric.
- Asynchronous Learning
Simply put these are blocks of curriculum and learning that are stand-alone in an academic year. They are not time-bound or required to be in any sequence of learning. With the pandemic, the education sector was caught unprepared. To ensure the teaching and curriculum don’t come to a complete stop in the event of a temporary challenge, it is a good practice to have certain stand-alone pieces that can be injected whenever the need arises. Whether it is something as basic as a student or teacher illness or simply reduced school days because of inclement weather, these projects (such as portfolio work, recorded lessons or online discussion boards) can be assigned to be done at home or at a student’s own pace during an unforeseen break.
Benefits of Using Different Teaching Methods
It is easy to be overwhelmed by a large list of new-age teaching methodologies. With large curriculums, it can seem like a lot of extra work. But remember that a lot of these methods are just building on existing strategies that teachers might already be using. Additionally, using appropriate teaching methods might make a teacher more effective and their job a little easier.
- Connect with students better: Using different teaching methods helps a teacher decide which ones the students have a better response to.
- Become more effective in the classroom: Using different teaching methods helps an educator engage students more deeply, for a better grasp of the concepts being taught
- Remain current and relevant: Keeping oneself informed and up-to-date on different teaching strategies helps educators remain current and relevant to changing technology and the world around them.
- Promote a more inclusive classroom: Every classroom has a mix of students with different learning abilities and needs. Being able to use the right tools to address them makes a teacher’s classroom more inclusive and enjoyable for the students.
Final Words: Teaching is an age-old profession with an inherent process and deep knowledge garnered through centuries of best practices. However, many new methodologies have evolved with changing times and morphing classrooms. Educators now have many tools to experiment with for better effectiveness in the classroom.
Every teacher wants their lessons to be engaging and students to be able to retain and use the learnings most effectively. Based on the principle that every educator and student is unique, the methods allow educators to pick a combination of different strategies most suitable for a given subject, topic, and classroom demographics.
The key to using these methods effectively is to identify the goal of the lesson, and then pick a couple of methods that work well together. Be sure to discuss the methods with your colleagues and pick the ones that align most with the mission of your institute and your personal style of teaching. Be open and flexible, making this process as much fun for you as it will become for your students.
Last Updated on February 9, 2024