Instructional Methods Part 1

Instructional Methods

Instructional Methods
Part 1 of 3

 

When going through a training a course, you have a series of methods at your disposal that can help you transfer knowledge and skills at the right level.

An instructional method is defined by the process that you use to instruct people on a particular topic. Each instructional method has its own use case with certain advantages and disadvantages.

In this guide, you will be introduced to a comprehensive list of such instructional methods that can help you choose the right method for your specific needs.

Many trainers often use the same instructional methods over and over again mainly due to habit. This list will introduce you to other instructional methods that can improve your training and learning for your delegates.

 

Terminology

The term Instructional Methods is sometimes referred to differently by researchers though they all mean the same thing. Other terms include Teaching Methods, Teaching Strategies, Instructional Strategies or Training Methods.

 

Styles

In general, the use of instructional methods also depends on your overall aim and how you want people to learn. Hence, each instructional method is suitable for a particular learning style. There is also a specific teaching style associated with each instructional method.

Let’s see what each style represents.

 

Learning Styles

Learning can be categorised into the following main styles:

Style

 

Description

Knowledge-Based Learning

 

The main focus of Knowledge-Based Learning is to transfer knowledge to the audience. As a result, the session is usually fact-based and information-rich. The most representative example for this style is giving a lecture.

Skill-Based Learning

  In contrast, the main focus of Skill-Based Learning is the transfer of specific skills. As a result, it is not enough just to explain the topics. The person who wants to learn the new skills must give them a try to gain hands-on experience. This leads to participatory training.

 

Teaching Styles

Teaching can be categorised into the following styles:

Style

 

Description

Formal Teaching

 

In a formal setup you have total authority over the session. It is common for you to do most of the talking in formal sessions. Your say is final and people see you as the expert in the domain, explaining everything to them.

Facilitator Teaching

 

You can train people as a facilitator. Your role is to facilitate the training session. There is a considerable interaction between participants and between them and you. You don’t necessarily do most of the talking; instead the focus is to help participants explore a particular domain on their own.

Demonstrator Teaching

 

You can demonstrate a particular function. This is usually based on a carefully planned setup that helps to educate the observer in understanding how something works.

Delegator Teaching

 

As a delegator, your role is to assign people a specific task. You will brief them on what they need to do and respond to their enquiries in relation with the task at hand.

Mentor Teaching

 

As a mentor, your role is to be a wise and trusted teacher, master and supporter. Your main aim is to set the environment in which the mentoree learns under your guidance.

 

Instructional Methods

The following instructional methods can be used on their own or in combination with each other to address a particular training need. Notice that teaching styles and learning styles associated with each type are not strictly set and only indicate the generic style used most often by the trainers.

  

Lecture

Teaching Style

 

Learning Style

Formal Teaching

 

Knowledge-Based Learning

Instructional Method

The main use of the lecture method is to build up on what learners already know about a topic. Therefore, a lecturer must constantly relate the new information to learners’ current knowledge by use of examples and illustrations.

Giving a lecture can be particularly demanding as you need to prepare it, identify what sequence of topics to go through, use appropriate educational aids and then deliver it in an expressive way.

Since most of the talking is done by you, it becomes your responsibility to educate people at the right level and to keep them engaged. The pace of learning is also set by you so you need to make sure you get it right.

When to Use

  • Use lectures when you want to cover many topics and teach a lot of people. You can think of it as the cheapest way to educate a large group of people about a particular subject.
  • Lectures can help you quickly cover new topics and then lead the audience to study the subject further post lecture.
  • Lectures are particularly useful for audiences that are totally new to a topic.
  • Various supportive materials can be used to enhance the learning such as slides, illustrations, videos, posters, etc. In fact, the lecture method can be combined with the Multimedia Method to get better results.

When Not to Use

  • One of the greatest weaknesses of the lecture format is the inability to quickly realise if your audience is following you or if the content is at the right level.
  • Another issue is that since this is a one-way training method without much interaction, it is more likely that learners will forget the content if they don’t study it further post lecture.
  • A lecture can become boring very quickly if learners cannot relate it to their own world.
  • Lectures are not particularly useful for higher order thinking since they put the students in a passive state.

 

Lecture Combined with Discussion

Teaching Style

 

Learning Style

Formal Teaching

 

Knowledge-Based Learning

Instructional Method

This is the lecture method used with short discussions and a brief question and answer period (Q&A).

When to Use

  • To encourage and increase engagement, you can use this method which at least allows some interaction after the lecture or at intervals.
  • This method is also useful as it encourages questions so learners can clarify any misunderstandings.
  • You can combine periods of Q&A and lecture to break up the content and increase interest.

When Not to Use

  • Usually, there is not much time available to allow long discussions often due to the large group of attendees.
  • Due to the large size of the group, there is a danger that as soon as you start focusing on someone’s concerns, other people lose interest.
  • Discussions can shift the focus away from the main topic which can lead to confusion and topic hijack. This is more likely to happen with a large group of attendees. You would also need more time to get back to the main topic if you have been side tracked.

 

Demonstrations

Teaching Style

 

Learning Style

Demonstrator Teaching

 

Knowledge-Based Learning

Skill-Based Learning

Instructional Method

You show how a process or procedure works by demonstrating it to learners. In this case, learning occurs through observation.

Depending on available resources and time, you could involve the learners in the learning process for some hands-on experience.

Demonstration can also be combined with the Multimedia Method by showing videos, simulations or virtual worlds.

When to Use

  • When you need to show quickly how something works, demonstration can be quite effective.
  • When there are health and safety issues, you will need to demonstrate first and highlight certain issues before allowing anyone to get directly involved.
  • Demonstrations also help improve observation skills.

When Not to Use

  • Sometimes learning is more effective when learners try the new skills on their own and understand what is involved. In this case, it is better not to start with a demonstration and instead use participatory methods such as Cooperative Learning so learners can be forced to think on their own. You want them to make mistakes and then quickly learn from those mistakes rather than just passively observing.

 

Presentation

Teaching Style

 

Learning Style

Formal Teaching

 

Knowledge-Based Learning

Instructional Method

The presentation method includes academic conference presentations, sales presentations and speeches.

These are collectively known as awareness-raising sessions. The objective is to quickly and efficiently make people aware of a specific topic. You are not aiming to teach people in depth and you usually don’t have much time to explore any topic in depth.

Most sessions are about 20 minutes or less so the aim is to make people excited about a topic and then help them to explore it more in their own time.

When to Use

  • Use when you want to make people aware of a new topic, a new trend, a new product or a new idea.
  • Use when you want to get people excited about your agenda.

When Not to Use

  • Do not use this method when here-and-now learning is required.
  • Do not expect people to be able to recall the details of your presentation long after the event. Expect only short term results.

 

Roleplay

Teaching Style

 

Learning Style

Demonstrator Teaching

Facilitator Teaching

 

Skill-Based Learning

Instructional Method

This is a particularly common method used in training. While going through a roleplay, learners must think on the spot, act out a situation and relate it to their previous experience or the lessons just taught. This can significantly increase learning as the experience is strongly memorable and the learner is actively engaged.

You may also combine roleplay with the Demonstration Method by asking a person to roleplay with you (or an actor) while you demonstrate a particular concept.

When to Use

  • Roleplay is particularly useful for raising awareness of a topic.
  • You can design a roleplay where the aim is for everyone to participate in groups and experience the skill first hand.
  • You can combine a roleplay with the demonstration technique. You can choose a number of volunteers (or ask those who are more suitable for the task) and get them to roleplay in front of other learners. Their roleplay becomes a demonstration to other learners.
  • Use roleplays when you need to stimulate discussions and encourage learners to share their experiences. This allows you to use a rolelay as a catalyst for the discussion that follows.
  • Roleplays are very useful when teaching soft skills. You can get groups to practice communication skills using a variety of carefully designed roleplays.
  • Roleplay is a low cost and easy-to-use method that can be easily employed when needed.
  • Roleplays allow you to focus on real problems directly.
  • Roleplays can be motivating and energising. Once people carry out an act in a roleplay, they become more confident to do it in real-life situations.

When Not to Use

  • It is well-known that some people do not like roleplays at all. This is usually because they don’t want to be put on the spot. They might be somewhat shy or may not like public presentations. One way to avoid this is to divide the class into smaller groups or pairs and get each group to roleplay for each other. This means participants are not observed by many people while at the same time allows you to teach using this instructional method.
  • If the roleplay event becomes more of an entertainment than an educational tool, you risk losing time and focus.
  • If a subject is sensitive for some, you need to make sure that either they can safely avoid participating in it or you can go through the topic some other way.
  • The focus of the exercise might change to acting and overacting rather than observing and examining a skill.

 

Continue to Instructional Methods Part 2...