There are likely as many teaching methods and techniques as there are teachers, but some stand out due to their effectiveness. Both teachers and students will enjoy class more when it includes methods that encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning and a more active role in and out of the classroom.
Problem-based learning is a teaching method that is directly opposite from the traditional lecture model in which students listen to information and then apply it to a problem. Problem-based learning requires that the problem be given first, and possible explanations and solutions to the problem are discussed later. The problem should be a real-life problem that is relevant to students' learning and interests. Problem-based learning is often used by teachers who wish to develop their students' critical thinking skills. Problem-based learning is also referred to as discovery-based learning.
An interactive lecture differs from a traditional lecture in that the teacher stops frequently and asks students to do a short activity. The activities can be done individually, in pairs or groups. A timer is frequently used in order to keep the lecture on course. A typical activity that is assigned during an interactive lecture is think-pair-share, in which students think about a concept, briefly discuss it with a partner and share their idea with the class. Other short activities might include brainstorming on an index card, quick quizzes and discussion of related text.
Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy that allows students to share and develop their knowledge with group members. It should not be confused with simple group work, as true cooperative learning activities are highly structured. Cooperative learning can increase students' retention of material, as teaching others within the group helps them to lock in the information. Cooperative learning can also increase students' social skills as well as academic performance, since it employs positive peer pressure. Cooperative learning is often called collaborative learning.
Field-based learning takes students out into the real world to experience new information firsthand while being able to use all their senses. Field-based learning accommodates a wide variety of learning styles, including kinesthetic and visual. Teachers can schedule learning experiences that go far beyond a field trip to a museum. Students can do community service projects relative to their learning, such as the middle school English as a Second Language class who partnered with a first-grade class to be "reading buddies." Students can also interview experts in the field they are studying and observe people doing the work that the skills they are learning will ultimately prepare them to do. These activities lend relevancy to lessons that otherwise may be perceived as abstract.
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