Teaching Strategies for Today’s Learners

It seems that everything and everyone demands our attention.  We are busy people, as teachers and students we need to be efficient in our actions, engaging and effective.  That’s asking a lot if we rely on old pedagogies.  I’ll discuss three teaching strategies for engaging today’s learners in a traditional face-to-face class, hybrid and online class environments.

bored classIn a face-to-face or traditional classroom, direct instruction is provided in a teacher-centered environment, usually in the form of a lecture. “The professor uses the lecture as a motivational tool, hoping to transmit a love of the subject matter or at least enough curiosity to inspire the student to continue studying outside of class” (Bates & Watson, 2008, p. 39).  It isn’t always possible for the instructor to inspire students in a way that keeps their attention. Especially since the instruction is goal-based which often means that lecture is delivered in a “one-size-fits-all” approach. With teachers holding the active role in class and students in a passive role of listening, there is only the charismatic nature of the teacher and the subject matter to keep a student interested. It’s no wonder that lecture tends to be one of the least effective ways to teach. By using active learning class time can be more productive and engaging. Miller and Metz (2014) cited “both faculty members and students believed that active learning would increase student enjoyment, motivation to learn, performance on exams, board scores and retention of information” (p. 250). Active learning allows students to participate – albeit quietly, but they have the opportunity to provide feedback about information presented which like tests, can indicate students understand and what needs clarification.

collaborative learningThe hybrid or blended-model classroom enlists active roles from both the instructor and student. To me, this seems to be a very modern and realistic approach to learning. The instructor delivers lecture and supplemental material on the web, which allows class time for students to interact and learn from each other. With the instructor in roles as the “guide on the side” and “sage on the stage,” students take on the active role in the classroom. In this scenario, collaborative learning, a.k.a. cooperative learning is a great model for teaching. “Google Hangouts allows hybrid students to “move around” the classroom, just as a FTF [face-to-face] student might move from one small group to another in a bricks-and-mortar classroom (Roseth, Akcaoglu & Zellner, 2013, p. 57). Technology is plentiful for this type of interaction. Furthermore, it’s practical and fosters engagement and creates experiences for more meaningful learning.

light bulbIn an online learning environment students are the active players and instructors are the “guide on the side.” Online learning calls for “more clearly and integrally woven self-regulatory support mechanisms in learners” (Crawford, Smith & Smith, p. 136). Students’ activity in online classes is pivotal to success in this environment and often involves guided-inquiry or inquiry-guided instruction. This approach is particularly good for online learning because courses are already utilizing the internet, which is of course, a very useful tool in finding information.  Bates and Watson (2008) cited “Students learn on their own by observing the phenomena, asking questions, allowing time for inquiry, or conducting activities and experiments” (p. 40). This is a natural approach to learning in today’s society. How many times have you wondered something and gone to the internet to do a GOOGLE search? The key to learning is not only knowing the right questions to ask, but also knowing where to find the answer and how to use it in a problem-based situation.

Questions for you…

Of the three teaching strategies I suggested – Active Learning, Collaborative Learning and Guided-Inquiry, which of these do you see as the most effective teaching strategy? Do you agree with the methods I have proposed?


Bates, C., & Watson, M. (2008). Re-learning teaching techniques to be effective in hybrid and online courses. Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 13(1), 38-44. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from: https://datapro.fiu.edu/campusedge/files/articles/batesc2701.pdf

Crawford, C. M., Smith, R. A., & Smith, M. S. (2008). Course student satisfaction results: differentiation between face-to-face, hybrid, and online learning environments. [Article]. CEDER Yearbook, 135-149.

Miller, C. J., Metz M.J. (2014). A comparison of professional-level faculty and student perceptions of active learning: its current use, effectiveness, and barriers. Advances In Physiology Education 38(3):246-252. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from: http://advan.physiology.org/content/38/3/246

Roseth, C., Akcaoglu, M., Zellner, A. (2013) Blending synchronous face-to-face and computer-supported cooperative learning in a hybrid doctoral seminar. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning. 57, 3, 54-59. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,cpid&custid=s7324964&db=aph&AN=86052109&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Additional Resources

Here is a link to “Making Lecture Capture Work Lessons From the Pros.”  It discusses how Lecture Capture technology can be used for flipping the classroom, which frees up time for active learning.

Here is a research article “Longitudinal Analysis of Student Performance in a Dental Hygiene Distance Education Program” which compares students in a F2F classroom with distance education students.

Constructing more thoughts about my learning activity…
In my past post I had discussed doing a learning activity to educate dental hygiene students about toothbrushing techniques.  Although this information is important, I think it may be more interesting to do a learning activity for determining clinical attachment loss.  I’d like to incorporate active learning and collaborative learning by using Lecture Capture (possibly) to deliver the lecture and Edmondo for collaboration on the subject.  YouTube videos may also be used for supplementary information and may be something students can share through Edmondo.  I don’t know a lot about either technology at this point, but these are some of my preliminary thoughts.

3 thoughts on “Teaching Strategies for Today’s Learners

  1. The methods you have posted are the three effective for online or e-learning. I am particularly impressed with the guided-inquiry method due to the utilization of the mental faculties which are needed for online learning.


  2. I do not think you can say one strategy is more or less effective than another. The learning environment may dictate which strategies will work best. For example, the active learning strategy would work well in face to face and hybrid environments but not in online environments. The students also need to be considered when determining what strategies to utilize. A strategy may be conducive to an environment but not the particular students in the environment.


  3. I think the Collaborative Learning approach is most effective for teaching. It allows the students to own their learning and be an active participant. It still allows the teacher the opportunity to lecture and provide guidance. I think that technology can enhance collaborative learning and really increase the students motivation towards the material. Great blog! I love the pictures you incorporated! 🙂


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