maandag 4 oktober 2010

Different ways of teaching, different pedagogical approaches

Every teacher develops his/her own way of teaching, he/she uses a personal pedagogy. This is often defined as the way teachers teach their pupils. According to the literature, there are different kinds of pedagogies. The pedagogies I find interesting, are:
- Learning by listening
- Discovery learning
- Learning by doing
- Learning through discussion and debate
- Blended learning
These pedagogical constructs are used in varying degrees and in different ways in different disciplines and in varying amounts. I’ll describe every kind of pedagogy and the way it can be implemented in a digital environment, like Blackboard.

Learning by listening
This kind of pedagogy is also called the ‘learning by being told’ model (Bourne et al, 1997). It’s a very traditional form with lectures as the main activity. This way of teaching is economical for the lecturer but rarely useful for the learner. It only succeeds when the instruction is very dynamic, but often the learners think that the lectures are dull. When the traditional lecture is recorded, it can be put on a digital environment so the students can view it online. It can be viewed by a lot of students and you only need one lecturer. However, people who view these on-line lectures think that the lectures in this format are not very useful (Bourne et al, 1997). There is no interaction with the instructor, so little learning takes place. Although it isn’t effective for the learning outcomes, it has the possibility to replay the lectures. This isn’t possible in a traditional face-to-face setting.

Discovery learning
This kind of learning used to be associated with searching for information in a library. Students came to the library, searched for literature and discovered solutions to solve an authentic problem. Nowadays, with the use of the Internet, a lot of searching is done on the Web. According to the literature of Bourne et al (1997), Web searches are often much better than traditional library searching.
Discovery learning is also defined as a highly self-directed and constructivistic form of learning (de Jong & van Joolingen, 1998). A constructivistic form of learning calls for a multiplicity of perspectives so that learners have a full range of options from which to construct their own knowledge. The instructor provides coaching or scaffolding to assist students in their discovery, but he/she would not overly direct the learning process (Reeves, 1994). This also relates to the choices that the learners make with regards to their learning routes as well as their place and pace of learning. The learners often use a ‘self-study’ way in combination with discovery learning. This type of learning is mostly designed for individual students and focuses on reading. Assessment can be self-organized via Web-based tests and communication with other students and/or instructors in limited (de Boer, 2004).

Learning by doing
Learning by doing is a kind of a ‘hands-on experience’, so it’s a very practical form of learning. This kind of learning is often adopted in science studies where students gain their knowledge in laboratories. They practice their skills and test their knowledge in a very practical setting. With the use of the Web, the practical settings are also offered in online-learning environments. The students can do the simulations in the online environment and write their knowledge, questions and critique and can get feedback from a lot of people. But practicing things on a screen isn’t practical enough. The ‘learning by doing’ pedagogy is the most effective in a traditional setting where students can create their own things. The writing and critiquing part, is of course very effective in an online-learning setting because a lot of students and experts have access to give and get feedback.

Learning through discussion and debate
The effectiveness of this kind of learning depends most on the context factors, like the group size and the role of the instructor. In the past, discussions and debates were organized in real settings with real people. The most effective learning outcomes were gained in a small class with an effective instructor. Nowadays, the discussions and debates are very popular because they are used in online environments. This kind of learning has become very effective because of using Web technology in educational settings. There’s a lot of interaction involved in this kind of learning, and this is very effective. Students can use the discussion part to chat with each other, but also to share documents. They can communicate and collaborate with each other in a very flexible way.

Blended learning
It seems that a lot of social interactivity like body language, greeting, socializing and face-to-face contact are very important in education. So the question rises whether the use of web technology is always the best solution. To answer this question, blended learning comes up. This kind of learning is a new development in technology based and/or supported learning. It can be defined as a way to design courses that blends different kinds of delivery and learning methods that can be enabled and/or supported by technology with traditional teaching methods (de Boer, 2004). The way blended learning is implemented, can be associated with the ‘stretching-the-mold’ approach. The traditional sort of lectures, assignments and study expectation can be the basic elements within this approach. But what becomes more flexible, or ‘stretched’, is the way in which students can carry out or participate in these. (de Boer, 2004)

A lot of pedagogies can be distinguished, but I think that a lot of teachers use some elements of all these pedagogies. They can create their own pedagogical approach with their own important elements. The blended learning approach is my favorite because it combines different teaching approaches and learning styles. It is a rather flexible approach in which every teacher and every learner can regulate his/her own way of teaching and learning.
Boer, W.F. de (2004). Flexibility support for a changing university. Doctoral dissertation. Faculty of Educational Science and Technology, Univeristy of Twente. Enschede, NL: Twente University Press.

Bourne, J.R., McMaster, E., Rieger, J., & Campbell, J.O. (1997). Paradigms for on-line learning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 1(2). []

Jong, T. de & Joolingen, W.R. van (1998). Scientific discovery learning with computer simulations of conceptual domains. Review of Educational Research, (68), 179-202.

Reeves, T. C. (1994). Evaluating What Really Matters In Computer-Based Education. In: M. Wild & D. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), Computer Education: New perspectives, pp. 219-246.

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Nice description of the pedagogical approaches in combination of possibilities for technology, without making it obvious that you have to write about it in that way ;-) You definition of blended learning is interesting. Usually the term blended learning is used to describe a situation in which online and face-to-face learning are combined. But if I understand you correctly you also mean a blend of pedagogical approaces?

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