Matching Teaching and Learning Styles
We’ve written before in this space of the importance of flexibility in classroom design. Different activities call for different types of learning, and classroom furnishings and fixtures should be able to adapt to accommodate those varied objectives.
Teachers will also find the need to adapt to both the subject matter and the learning preferences of students. While the terminology varies, there are at least three main styles of teaching, each with its pros and cons. Let’s take a look:
Also called teacher-centered instruction, a lecture setting is probably what comes to mind when you picture a traditional classroom. All desks face the teacher, who presents information from (usually) the front of the room. The teacher is responsible for virtually all activity. Put another way, a lecture setting is largely passive for the students and active for the teacher.
This teacher-centered approach is probably the most efficient way to disperse knowledge on a one-to-many basis, but has the downside of a potential lack of motivation on the part of the students. In other words, students being lectured to are more likely to be bored or disengaged.
Small Group Instruction
In a small group setting the teacher organizes teams to bring practical skills to a project. This is vital in helping students learn to work together, accept feedback from their peers, and compromise. The learning of interpersonal skills here may outweigh the actual subject matter, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Additionally, this setting makes it possible to both adapt assignments to address a group’s strengths or weaknesses, and to more readily discover exactly what those strengths and weaknesses are, in contrast to the one-to-many lecture setting.
The potential drawback is that a teacher can’t be everywhere at once. It will take additional effort to keep eyes and ears on each group to make sure they’re progressing on the assignment and not wasting time.
A student-centered approach, often used in classrooms with older students, puts more responsibility on students to plan and implement the teaching of subject matter. The teacher takes on a more consultative role, guiding the students towards discovery rather than teaching them outright.
The obvious advantage is that in order to teach a subject, a student must first learn it well. Students take a more active role and a greater responsibility for what happens in the classroom. A possible disadvantage is that if a student comes up short in his or her responsibilities, other students pay the price in the form of missed learning.
There are other forms of teaching, of course, including the Montessori method, which grants students the freedom to pursue their own interests in place of a traditional curriculum. And remote learning is likely to continue to be a part of many classrooms. But these three main styles – and the fixtures and furnishings to support them – provide a solid foundation for a flexible, successful classroom environment.
Questions about how to match teaching and learning styles? Contact Douron.