Creating a learning environment that is both dynamic and engaging to the students involves developing a teaching style that encourages interaction. Two of the hallmarks of effective teaching are motivated students and prompt feedback. Every teacher will develop his or her own particular style of teaching but there are three that have been recognized by a number of experts as being both productive and effective. These include problem-based learning, the Socratic Method and cooperative learning. The style that works for a particular teacher will depend on their personality and what they are comfortable with as well as the age of the students in their classroom.
Of all the styles, the oldest method is probably the Socratic style. During a traditional lecture, students are given information in an almost mechanical style which can lead to loss of interest and difficulty retaining information. The Socratic Method stands in stark contrast to this because students are given questions and encouraged to find answers on their own. Students taught in this way are trained to find the answers to the questions being given to them and then to seek out even more questions regarding the answers they have found. This method encourages students to analyze concepts and question the assumptions being made.
The problem-based learning style puts a heavy focus on the development of a student’s problem-solving skills. Students are given real world problems and are encouraged to find solutions on their own. They are given an incredible amount of freedom to explore the problem and come to their own conclusion. The skills a student learns from this style of teaching are applicable not only during their education but far into adulthood as well. Individuals that develop good problem-solving skills are likely to grow up to be innovative adults that find new and unique solutions to problems faced by everyone.
Cooperative learning involves organizing students into teams of students with a variety of different ability levels. This method allows students to learn not only from the teacher but from one another as well. It encourages students to discuss problems with one another. This method has become particularly popular because it forces students to get engaged in the material regardless of their level of understanding. Students get a sense of accomplishment by mastering a particular topic and helping fellow students to understand it as well. This method also helps to improve student’s communication and social skills. Their self-confidence is also boosted when they realize that their contributions have value and are respected.