A Guide to Popular Teaching Methods (With Pros and Cons)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 14, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The different methods available for teaching effectively allow instructors to adapt to their students' wide range of attitudes and abilities. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Whether you are a teacher, an instructor, a training facilitator, or a mentor, your understanding of the different methods may help you effectively teach your students. In this article, we explain what teaching methods are, and explore some of the most popular methods along with their pros and cons.

What are teaching methods?

Teaching methods are the styles or techniques instructors use to facilitate learning for their students. There are a variety of methods, and the method an instructor uses depends on their own preferences, situation, or setting, and their students' interests and demographics. An instructor may combine different techniques and strategies as part of their overall teaching style.

Methods of teaching

There are many different methods of teaching and multiple variations of each. Some teaching professionals or instructions may use a combination of methods or alternate between methods, depending on the subject matter or student demographic they are teaching. Here are some popular teaching methods:

The teacher-centred method

In the teacher-centred method, the instructor is in full control of the learning process. Traditional classrooms favour this method, where the instructor typically stands at the front of the room, and the students sit facing them. With this teaching style, the instructor explains or demonstrates concepts, while the students' role during the lesson is to observe, listen, and take notes. The teacher gives individual or group assignments, which tend to have strict parameters.

Pros and cons

One of the advantages of the teacher-centred method is that the instructor maintains control, presents the information at the appropriate pace, and focuses on the concepts that are of particular importance. This method allows for effective behaviour management and discourages off-topic conversations mainly because of the classroom format, which typically features students sitting at individual desks or on individual chairs. The main disadvantage of the teacher-centred method, compared to the other methods, is that the students' engagement may reduce, as they are more passive in the learning process.

The student-centred method

The student-centred approach to teaching, in contrast to the teacher-centred approach, switches the focus from the teacher to the students, who have more control over their learning experience and participate more actively in the process. The classroom setup is typically less formal, as students may sit in groups at tables and can move around the classroom. Some classroom formats incorporate a circuit of learning stations. With the student-centred method, teachers encourage students to help direct the lesson. The teachers take the interests of the students into consideration and build them into the curriculum.

Pros and cons

One of the main advantages of the student-centred method is that student engagement is high. The students can influence lesson content, which increases their level of interest and involvement. This method also helps students build up their confidence and learn self-reliance and self-discipline. The student-centred method of teaching has a less formal classroom format that can increase behavioural issues, which the teachers usually address as soon as they arise.

The project-based method of teaching

With the project-based method, students learn through working on large assignments or projects. These typically incorporate research, critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving. With these projects, students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the curriculum content, along with their general academic skills and abilities, such as math and language. As with the student-based method of teaching, the project-based method encourages students to direct their own learning to a certain extent. Project outlines generally allow students to incorporate their individual interests, and the instructor often allows students to manage their own time while working on the project.

Pros and cons

An advantage to the project-based method of teaching is that it can be particularly enriching for students, as the projects they complete can often be significant in scope and have an impact on the grade they receive. For example, a student with an interest in environmental sustainability may choose to complete a project on recycling that influences the habits of their peers. A disadvantage to the project-based method is that the learning environment is typically less structured. While students with high levels of self-discipline may thrive in this type of environment, others may struggle.

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The cooperative method of teaching

The cooperative method of teaching focuses on group work, which can include group discussions and projects and collaboration during learning activities. An instructor may set up their classroom to facilitate group work. For example, they may provide seating at tables rather than at individual desks. They may also divide the class into small groups and teach each group individually while the others complete the assigned tasks. The cooperative method of teaching aims to encourage social interaction and collaboration between students.

Pros and cons

The cooperative method requires teamwork and cooperation, which helps students build their social skills. These skills are important throughout the students' education and after their graduation. The cooperative approach encourages student engagement, as most students enjoy the social interaction with their peers. One of the main disadvantages of this method of teaching is that the learning environment is less controlled, so instructors might provide extra supervision to ensure that the students remain on task and productive. While some students excel in highly group-focused environments, others may prefer to work independently, which can be more challenging with this learning style.

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The inquiry-based method of teaching

The inquiry-based method of teaching encourages students to seek out information. The instructor asks questions or encourages students to do so and guides them through the process of finding the answers. This method focuses on the development of problem-solving and research skills and encourages independent critical thinking. Instructors support students by teaching them the skills required to work through the inquiry process and help them identify the appropriate resources for their research. Like the student-centred, project-based, and Montessori methods (discussed later), the inquiry-based method allows students to direct their own learning process.

Pros and cons

The inquiry-based method offers several advantages, including increased engagement and the opportunity to build self-confidence and independence. It can also help students build strong research and problem-solving skills, which are useful to have at every level of education and in the workplace. This method also favours the learning and understanding of concepts over memorization, which may help with the overall retention of information. A disadvantage of the inquiry-based method is that as learning is heavily self-guided and collaborative, behavioural issues may occur. Additionally, students may require relatively high levels of motivation to learn effectively with this method.

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The flipped classroom method

The flipped classroom method of teaching requires students to prepare in advance for each class. Instead of receiving a lesson in class and completing homework as practice or reinforcement, students have homework that's typically reading or a video lecture that provides the base content for the upcoming class. The class then focuses on expanding, discussing, and analyzing concepts. The instructor's role involves creating and assigning homework, posing questions that encourage further exploration and analysis of concepts, guiding class discussions, and providing clarification and support to the students. This method works best with older students rather than with children.

Pros and cons

The flipped classroom method has the advantage of using class time for discussion and engagement, while students complete the more passive component of learning individually. With this method, students derive the maximum benefit from collaborative time and time with the instructor. Students who lack self-discipline may find this method a challenge. If they don't complete the class preparation homework, they may struggle to follow the in-class discussions and may not learn the intended content.

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The Montessori method of teaching

The Montessori method of teaching focuses on student-led, independent learning. It's typically appropriate for younger students, such as pre-school and elementary school children. Play-based, hands-on learning is the focus of this method, with students directing their own learning by choosing their activities. The instructor focuses on preparing an environment that offers a range of immersive learning experiences for children and provides support as needed to ensure students stay engaged.

Pros and cons

A Montessori classroom usually contains a range of materials and activities appropriate for the age range of the students. These materials and activities may relate to a particular academic subject, or they may encourage language or problem-solving skills. Like the student-centred method of teaching, the Montessori method promotes self-confidence and independence. It can also encourage student engagement, as the children can select activities that interest them, and children typically enjoy play-based activities. A potential disadvantage to this method is that Montessori students may not have as much knowledge in certain subject areas, as the learning is self-directed.

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