What are teaching approaches with some examples?

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brandyhwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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There are various types of teaching approaches in education. With an emphasis on 21st century skills, teaching approaches have begun to take different shapes that cater to specific aspects of student learning. Because of the influence on 21st Century skills and technology, here are four of the most common teaching approaches: teacher- centered, student or leaner- centered, constructivists or inquiry based learning, and collaborative learning.

The most widely known teaching approach is teacher- centered. This is the "traditional" mode of education. In a traditional classroom, teachers will lecture students, maybe pose a question or two, but predominantly, students will sit and get without much interaction with what they are learning. 

What is becoming more widely known and expected is a student or learner- centered approach to teaching. In this approach, students drive the instruction, ask the questions, potentially create the models and methods of instructions, etc. This type of learning is more probably project based. Students will actively engage in the learning atmosphere, they will drive the discussions, and they will ask and answer their questions. For the best example of this type of learning, consider a classroom being taught by the students. 

Another common approach is constructivist in nature. This inquiry- based learning approach focuses on a driving question that guides the lesson and practices in the classroom. Students are asked a driving/guiding question, what they learn and how they learn it is determined by the question itself. Students will research, and gather information to inform their decisions about the process of learning. The best illustration of this approach is thinking about Design Thinking classrooms. 

Lastly, the final approach is collaborative learning. This approach marries both the student/learner- centered and inquiry based learning approaches. In the collaborative approach to education, students are placed in groups, they are given the opportunity to work together, towards a common goal, and the group's work drives the instruction. There can be some teacher- centered methods used here, but predominantly, students are given the chance to work and problem solve among themselves. For an example of this method of teaching, consider Think Tanks and how they work together to solve problems.

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