Acquiring and learning skills

When designing learning, the nature of the learning objective will largely determine the approach you use.

The teaching and learning models that are effective in meeting these types of learning objectives are referred to as ‘behaviourist’. These models require learners to behave or respond in a particular way through a stimulus-response interaction together with associated feedback on progress.

Teaching and learning models include:

  • direct interactive teaching;
  • modelling;
  • demonstration;
  • reading and writing sequences;
  • mastery learning;
  • simulation.

The impact of these models is increased when attention is given to the inclusion of plenaries that require learners to reflect on how well they have acquired their new learning and what more they need to do to improve.

There are many developers in this area, including Skinner, Good, Brophy, Bloom and Smith.

Direct teaching is whole-class teaching characterised by a stimulus-response approach. The teacher draws learners in, actively engaging them through a variety of techniques such as questioning, explaining and organising group work. There will often be a starter then plenaries at appropriate points to clarify learning.

Modelling is effective in teaching new skills or procedures, for example how to construct a paragraph, evaluate a painting or draw a conclusion from evidence. Not only will the teacher demonstrate the procedure, but will also talk through their thinking, so making explicit the decisions that have to be made at each stage.

Demonstration is an approach used to illustrate an event or procedure. It is often used to stimulate thinking, particularly in the teaching of science.

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