[Itech] Fwd: Three Teaching Styles
franklit at ohio.edu
Tue Oct 8 05:12:58 EDT 2013
I thought this might be of interest to everyone who teaches or plans to
teach in the future in higher education.
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From: Faculty Focus <ezine at facultyfocusemail.com>
Date: Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 2:18 PM
Subject: Three Teaching Styles
To: franklit at ohio.edu
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*September 30, 2013*
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By Paul B. Thornton
The most effective teachers vary their styles depending on the nature of
the subject matter, the phase of the course, and other factors. By so
doing, they encourage and inspire students to do their best at all times
throughout the semester.
It is helpful to think of teaching styles according to the three Ds:
Directing, Discussing, and Delegating.
*The directing style* promotes learning through listening and following
directions. With this style, the teacher tells the students what to do, how
to do it, and when it needs to be done. The teacher imparts information to
the students via lectures, assigned readings, audio/visual presentations,
demonstrations, role playing, and other means. Students gain information
primarily by listening, taking notes, doing role plays, and practicing what
they are told to do. The only feedback the teacher looks for is "Do you
understand the instructions?"
Suggestions for using the directing style:
- *Start with the big picture.* Provide the context before launching
- *Be clear and concise.* Students need to know exactly what they must
do to succeed and by what criteria their work will be evaluated. Clear
goals, specific deadlines, and concise directions increase student
motivation and eliminate confusion. Wordy, sloppily written, and poorly
organized instructional materials confuse, overwhelm, and discourage
- *Provide sufficient detail.* Communication breakdowns occur when
important details are omitted or instructions are ambiguous. For example,
when I once neglected to specify the font size students should use, the
papers they turned in had font sizes ranging from 8 to 14!
- *Don't sugar-coat the message.* There are times when teachers need to
be very direct and candid to get through to students.
*The discussing style* promotes learning through interaction. In this
style, practiced by Socrates, the teacher encourages critical thinking and
lively discussion by asking students to respond to challenging questions.
The teacher is a facilitator guiding the discussion to a logical
conclusion. Students learn to have opinions and to back them up with facts
Suggestions for using the discussing style:
- *Prepare questions in advance.* Great discussions don't just happen.
Ask one question at a time. Be open, curious, and interested in learning
what each student thinks.
- *Don't allow one or two students to dominate the discussion.* Solicit
everyone's ideas and opinions. Gently draw out students who seem insecure
and reticent to participate. I sometimes start my classes by saying, "I
want to give each of you one minute to discuss your views on this topic.
Let's go around the room and hear from everyone." Get closure by reviewing
the key points you want to make.
- *Have students create questions.* I like to have my students read a
case study and formulate three questions to ask their classmates. We then
discuss their answers in class.
- *Utilize clickers.* Clickers are an easy way to get students involved
during class. Pose a multiple-choice question and their responses are
tabulated on the screen. You can then open it up for discussion as students
share why they selected a certain answer.
*The delegating style* promotes learning through empowerment. With this
style, the teacher assigns tasks that students work on independently,
either individually or in groups.
Suggestions for using the delegating style:
- *Assign research projects.* In my management course I require students
to interview a manager of a local business to get answers to questions like
- What are the main performance measures your company uses to evaluate
each employee's performance?
- What are the key lessons you, as a manager, have learned about
conducting effective performance appraisals?
- *Assign team projects.* Have each team select a team leader, define
roles and responsibilities, and hold each other accountable for completing
the project on time. In my management class, I have teams of students
analyze the management and leadership behaviors on movies like *Remember
the Titans* and *Crimson Tide*.
- *Assign a capstone project.* Let students show you what they can do
when working independently on a topic that's important to them.
*Use an appropriate mix of each teaching style.* I typically structure
each of my classes to include some amount of each teaching style. However,
during the first part of a semester I use more of the directing style. In
the middle part of a semester I typically rely more on the discussing
style. And in the latter part of a semester I generally lean more heavily
on the delegating style.
Using an appropriate mix of teaching styles helps students learn, grow, and
become more independent. Too much reliance on one style causes students to
lose interest and become overly dependent on the teacher.
There is no one best teaching style. Effective teachers use a variety of
styles, and they know how and when to choose the most appropriate one for
the specific situation. In essence, the three teaching styles boil down to
- Direct – Tell students what to do
- Discuss – Ask questions and listen
- Delegate – Empower students
*Paul B. Thornton is speaker, trainer, and professor of business
administration at Springfield Technical Community College, Springfield, MA.
He teaches principles of management, organizational behavior, and
principles of leadership. He is the author of Leadership—Off the Wall and
twelve other books on management and leadership. He may be contacted at
PThornton at stcc.edu. *
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*"A teacher affects eternity; [she]he can never tell where the influence
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The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education
Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701
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