Journey to Excellence

Learning Theories and Teaching Strategies

The purpose of this web site is to provide teachers with practical examples and resources to help them meet the instructional needs of all students and to enable them to progress from dependent to independent learners. Teachers will develop a community of learners by effectively balancing major teaching approaches that include:

  • Experiential Learning
    Definition: Teachers provide opportunities for real-world experiences based on studentsí prior knowledge.
    Rationale: Brain-based research suggests that students who engage in real world experiences will attain and assimilate information effectively because the activities are meaningful in their day-to-day life experiences.

  • Direct Instruction
    Definition: A highly structured, teacher-centered information delivery method that may rely on drills, repetition, and scripted materials.
    Rationale: Provides the teacher with a framework to impart information.

  • Social Learning
    Definition: Teacher-guided cooperative learning that facilitates student interaction.
    Rationale: Strengthens studentsí ability to retain information through social interaction involved with cooperative learning within socially appropriate norms.

  • Problem-based Learning
    Definition: Teacher/student initiated inquiries that promote critical thinking and problem solving.
    Rationale: Develops student ability to problem solve and think critically.

  • Constructivist Instruction
    Definition: Teachers apply brain research results and extend student learning by building on studentsí prior knowledge.
    Rationale: The context in which an idea is taught as well as studentsí beliefs and attitudes affect learning.

  • Thematic Instruction
    Definition: Teachers provide cross-curricular learning on a central theme.
    Rationale: Students are able to make coherent connections among disciplines and acquire an integrated knowledge base.

  • Non-graded, Multi-age
    Definition: Teachers implement curriculum based on studentsí individual learning progress rather than grade level.
    Rationale: Studentsí chronological age and mental age do not always correspond. In a multi-age program students develop self-direction, responsibility, tolerance for others, social skills, self-assuredness, and positive attitudes toward learning and school.

  • Multiple Intelligences
    Definition: This theory, developed by Howard Gardner, suggests that intelligence based on IQ testing alone is far too limited; therefore, he proposed eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential.
    Rationale: It identifies studentsí abilities in other areas of intelligence and does not limit intelligence to strength in the logical-mathematical and linguistic areas.

  • Miscellaneous Instructional Ideas
    Definition: A list of ideas designed to stimulate teachersí thoughts and assist in expanding lesson plans.
    Rationale: It provides a resource for the busy, time-challenged teacher.

  • Additional Learning Theories
    Definition: Some other generally accepted theories of learning with resource connections. This list is by no means exhaustive.
    Rationale: Justice to all learning theories is not possible due to the vast number. This link supplies information on additional theories.

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