A teaching methodology is essentially the way in which a teacher chooses to explain or teach material to students so they can learn the material. There are many different methodologies that can be utilized by a teacher, and the methods chosen often depend on the educational philosophy and preferences of a teacher. It is also not uncommon for a teacher to utilize multiple methods within a single lesson or over the course of several lessons. A methodology of teaching can include the use of lecturing, group or small group discussion activities, and engaging students as teachers for their peers.
It is important to understand that a teaching methodology is not the same as an educational philosophy for a teacher, though they can often be related. The philosophy a teacher chooses usually indicates how the teacher believes students can best learn new material, and the ways in which students and teachers should relate and interact in the classroom. This philosophy often impacts the choices a teacher can make regarding which teaching methodology or methodologies he or she chooses to use, but they are not necessarily directly connected. Teachers commonly refer to their preferred teaching methods and philosophies together, to give other teachers or students an understanding of their approach to education.
While a number of different methodologies can be used by a teacher, one common and traditional teaching method is often referred to as lecturing or explaining. This is essentially an approach to education that regards the teacher as an expert on a subject, and he or she provides information to students who are expected to absorb and understand the material. Sometimes derisively referred to as a “sage on the stage” approach, this teaching methodology has lost favor in recent years with many instructors. Even those teachers who do still use this method often supplement it with other methodologies.
Some increasingly popular methodologies focus on the importance of the student in the learning process. One such teaching methodology utilizes group discussions with an entire classroom, or smaller group discussions with numerous small groups at once. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their education and to be active participants in the learning process.
This can also be utilized with a teaching methodology in which students take on the role of teacher to instruct other students in the class. Small group discussions, for example, are often followed by larger group discussions in which each group presents what they learned or discussed to the rest of the class. Similarly, individual students may be charged with researching a particular subject, and then teaching that material to the other students in the class.