This article will define teacher directed instruction in light of a trend toward more learner-centered classroom experiences for 21st century students. The authors will identify the danger in creating an either/or paradigm but rather discuss what researchers have determined to be best practices in the teacher-centered context. Also, Hoyt and Perera (2000) surveyed faculty as to which type of instruction approach they incorporated into their practice. Forty-five percent identify some combination which used lecture as a primary approach. Thus the discussion of best practice will broaden the current conversation beyond what is good or bad but rather what supports student outcomes. Specific successful pedagogical strategies will be outlined including development of an engaging lecture, cooperative learning designed to enhance reading assignments, purposeful questioning, and using the Socratic Method.
Teaching incorporates more than the transmission of information but also the environment and culture of learning. Teacher directed instruction also known as teacher-centered pedagogy is under fire as students demand less lecture and rote memorization and more hands-on activities. This chapter will make the argument that a well-constructed teacher directed course can be extremely engaging. The authors will also warn against viewing pedagogy as either teacher-centered or learner-centered.
Huba and Freed (2000) contrast teacher and learner-centered instruction as a model or paradigm. Their research shifts the focus from what to teach to how students learn. They acknowledge that a teacher-centered methodology is not ineffective, but a shift from solely lecturing to a teaching style that incorporates more student interaction and a demonstration of learning beyond rote memorization supports long-term retention. Huba and Freed (2000) characterize a teacher-centered paradigm in several ways:
Content is primarily delivered by the instructor and students are solely learners.
Content is not contextualized but rather students passively receive the information.
Assessment is sole the responsibility of the instructor, requires only rote memorization and is summative in nature.
Learning is the responsibility of the individual and courses can be constructed in a competitive nature (p. 5).
These characteristics may be more evident in large, lecture style courses where individual interaction is more cumbersome. However, the challenge is for faculty to have a solid understanding of when teacher directed instruction is most appropriate and how to implement strategies to maximize learning. The next several sections provide a background for how content delivery, course environment and how student self-authorship all play a role into the instructional decisions faculty make each semester.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Open Learning Environments: Are classrooms that honor the discipline content and the voices of the instructor and student.
Significant Learning Experiences: Are defined as teaching that results in “a learning experience resulting in something that is truly significant in terms of the students’ lives” (Fink, 2003, p. 6).
Summative Assessment: Defined as “those that are generally carried out at the end of an instructional unit or course of study for the purpose of giving grades or otherwise certifying student proficiency” (Shephard et al., 2005, p. 276).
Teacher Directed Instruction: Class design in which faculty carry the responsibility for creation and execution of all instruction and assessment.
Adult Development: The process of individualizing one’s own thoughts in opinions. Development is promoted in the context of others such as parents, teachers and friends. One moves from a state of internalizing the beliefs held by others to a more sophisticated state of creating individualized views which incorporate parts and pieces from others.