What are Instructional Strategies? - Types & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Are Instructional…
  • 0:54 Prior Knowledge Activation
  • 1:45 Demonstration &…
  • 3:19 Group Collaborative Learning
  • 3:50 Scaffolded Instruction…
  • 5:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

This lesson provides examples of different instructional strategies to help students learn, including prior knowledge activation, demonstration, problem-based learning, group collaboration, modeling, and scaffolded instruction.

What Are Instructional Strategies?

As a student, you may have noticed that you do different activities in different classes. Sometimes you get into groups to work on an assignment. Sometimes the teacher reads something aloud to the class then assigns them a project. Other times you read quietly to yourself or aloud in class and then discuss with your classmates. You may then present your work to the teacher as a group or write your answers down in an essay as homework. These are all different ways your teachers help students understand the objectives of a lesson.

While there are many different types of students and classes, people learn best when they're stimulated and engaged. In order for teachers to accomplish this, there are different teaching methods and plans. These are collectively called instructional strategies. Let's talk about some different strategies.

Prior Knowledge Activation

Prior knowledge activation involves using students' previous experiences to relate them to the material and create an engaged classroom. This strategy relies on the teacher's familiarity with the students. For example, a high school teacher might say:

'Most of you have mowed lawns, yes? You don't always do it the same way, do you? Sometimes you start from the middle and mow outward in circles, sometimes you start from the outside edges and cut in rows toward the middle, etc. Well, interpreting this reading can also be approached from many different angles, but it always connects together at the end, right?'

By getting the students to connect a lesson to a task with which they are familiar, the teacher creates an understanding in the students and helps them become independent learners by applying the same technique in all learning situations.

Demonstration & Problem-Based Learning

One of the more straightforward instructional strategies is demonstration, which is most often used in science and math classes. This strategy involves showing the students how a problem is solved using either a practical demonstration, an example from the literature, or an online video clip, among other sources. The teacher will then ask them to either replicate the results or pose a similar problem, to which students must apply the principles they learned from the demonstration.

Problem-based learning begins with the teacher assigning an open-ended problem with more than one variable solution. Students then investigate the problem, often within small groups, with support from the teacher. Problem-based learning can vary in length from one class to an entire semester, depending on the complexity of the problem.

Problem-based learning, first used in medical school, now is used throughout all levels of education. Here are examples of problem-based learning at various levels:

  • Elementary: How can our school limit the amount of trash produced?
  • Middle School: How can we protect orangutans from extinction?
  • High School: How can airline check-in be more efficient and still follow TSA compliance?
  • University: How can you create cost-efficient, sustainable energy building?

By providing open-ended problems, students essentially learn to think outside the box, to adapt and apply their previous knowledge to seemingly unrelated problems, to use all resources available to them, and to develop collaborative skills.

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