What are Instructional Strategies?
A classroom brings together learners from different backgrounds and personalities. Each student has unique strengths and weaknesses and there is no ‘one size fits all’ way of teaching. Thus, a teacher needs a dynamic combination of instructional strategies to optimize the learning of all students.
These techniques that teachers put to use to deliver their lessons are known as instructional strategies. Let us look into the different instructional strategies that help students and why they are important.
Instructional Strategies List & Examples
There are a lot of instructional strategies available and it is difficult to document all of them. So, let’s look at the best instructional strategies for easy understanding:
1. Active Learning
1.1 Exit Tickets
This refers to engaging students in an activity related to the concept taught at the end of the lesson before they leave. They can be asked to draw or write the answer to the asked question on a piece of paper which can be collected by the instructor/educator.
The questions can range from something simple like “What they liked about the class?” or to something complex like drawing a parallel from the taught concepts to the real world.
Analyzing these tickets can help the teacher to understand how well the class is responding to the lesson, identify concepts that need to be repeated, or group students as per their levels of understanding.
1.2 Flipped Classrooms
This is one of the most popular instructional strategies. The students are given pre-recorded lecture contents prior to the class. These can be something like YouTube videos, notes, or podcasts.
This ensures that the classroom can be used for discussions and collaboration on activities related to the topic. The fact that students can learn from the material at their own convenience and pace makes this mode of learning, effective.
1.3 Learning Logs
This strategy allows the learners to journal their feelings, thoughts, and observations. They can write about the concepts taught in class or anything else that interests them.
The teacher can guide the activity by asking questions or giving food for thought. For example, at the end of the session, teachers ask students the different ways to use findings from their lessons in real life.
This strategy encourages students to think critically and share their ideas.
1.4 Muddiest Point
This is primarily aimed at identifying parts of the curriculum that students are finding difficult. The learners can be asked to anonymously submit the concepts they are having difficulty with.
Once the instructors identify these areas, they can address them in the doubt sessions or ask other students to volunteer to teach any of these topics they are comfortable with.
This is also one of the well-known instruction techniques. Students can be asked to work in pairs at various points in the term. They can discuss the material taught with their partner and share their outcomes with the class publicly.
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2. Assessment-Based Learning
This consists of all graded modules like quizzes, tests, assignments, projects, and other informal checks like presentations and group discussions.
The tests should be built around the most important concepts and should be practical. Students being able to apply their knowledge in the tests is a good indicator of their knowledge.
2.2 Grade as you Go
Continuous grading helps the learners to stay on track and be aware of their performance.
It also helps the teachers to identify the high-performing students who can be given more challenging assignments.
It gives the students more time to practice and understand their concepts. Homework should be aligned to the student’s skill level and should require minimal aid from peers or parents.
2.4 Quizzes and Questions
Asking questions is a simple and effective way to engage students. Teachers can ask questions of various complexity in the class so that there is something for everybody.
These questions will not only help to gauge the understanding level of the student but also help to build their confidence.
3. Group-Based Learning
3.1 Case Studies
Case studies are spontaneous and thus help the learners to think on their feet. This helps them develop problem-solving skills which are crucial in the real world.
Students can be divided into groups and asked to apply the knowledge from the class to related real-world scenarios.
Debating requires the participants to research, think and then present their ideas. This improves their listening as well as presentation skills and their ability to think of intelligent counter-arguments.
3.3 Peer Instruction
Instructors ask a tough question to students, who then answer it individually. They then work with a partner in the class to discuss their solutions and then answer them again. Peer instruction has many benefits and is known to increase students’ confidence levels!
3.4 Role Play
Simply put, role play is an instructional strategy that puts students in a supported environment & helps them explore realistic circumstances. It helps students gauge different points of view and fully experience the depth of the “role” they are playing. Students are put in different roles & their interactions reflect interactions of varied nature.
Learning by simulation and games helps the student to experiment with the learned concepts, and give the same experiential learning outcomes as role play. It involves the students and thus leads to a better understanding of concepts.
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4. Organizational Learning
Agendas lay out the timeline and list of all activities that students need to complete throughout the year. Knowing the agenda helps the students to decide their way of learning and also practice time management skills.
Students should also be encouraged to come up with their own schedules.
4.2 Learning Contracts
This involves giving students a list of tasks to be achieved within a fixed duration. This technique is useful for students who perform better when challenged. It helps the students to set their own goals and practice time management skills.
4.3 Knowledge Charts
Knowledge charts are graphic organizers which the learners can use to visualize what they already know about the topic and what they want to know. The teachers can assess these to understand what the class knows about the topic and students can use this to gauge their own progress and take necessary actions.
4.4 Portfolio Development
A portfolio makes students organize their achievements and learnings. This helps them to not only reflect on their work and performance but also showcase them.
Students can collect their certificates, essays, interview notes, etc. in their portfolios.
Now that we know about the instructional strategies that are crucial for the learning infrastructure, let’s look at the various benefits of instructional strategies.
Why should we be concerned about instructional strategies?
Instructional strategies are primarily aimed at students who are independent learners and strategic thinkers.
These strategies help the learners by:
- adapting to their individual needs
- helping them reach their goals
- making them an active participant in the learning process
- encouraging them to understand the material rather than remembering
- allowing them to draw parallels between taught concepts and real life scenarios
These techniques are beneficial for the instructors also. These allow the instructors to:
- make lectures fun and practical
- assess student performance
Instruction for Teachers
Incorporating a combination of these strategies as and when required will help the students develop strategic skills like critical thinking and problem solving and help them get a deeper understanding of the course.