Finding Your Teaching Style

If you are new to teaching you may wonder what your teaching style will be. Each professor develops their own method of communicating and engaging with their students. Teaching styles are comprised of a number of characteristics such as educational philosophy, management strategy, school mission statement, the course being taught, and students' learning style. Being aware of your teaching style can aid in course development and delivery. Read on to explore three types of teaching styles: Direct Instruction, Inquiry-Based Learning, and Cooperative Learning.

Direct Instruction: Direct Instruction refers to the traditional teacher-centered style of teaching. In this particular method, teachers are seen as authoritative figures and students are seen as "empty vessels." The professor's role is to lead students through the learning process by sharing their knowledge and expertise with the class. The class material is delivered primarily through lectures, and students are responsible for note taking. Learning is gauged based on quizzes, tests, and written assignments. A strong emphasis is placed on rules and regulations in this method.

Inquiry-Based Learning: Inquiry Based Learning is a student-centered approach where students are encouraged to participate in hands-on learning and exploration. The professor's primary role is to facilitate learning and discussion while allowing students to express their own thoughts and ideas on the course material. Rather than authoritative figures, professors in this method are seen as givers of guidance and support. Students and professors work and learn together in this hands-off teaching method. Students are expected to ask questions, contribute, and play a vital role in their own learning. 

Cooperative Learning: This teaching method is about community, group work, and togetherness. Learning is gauged through group projects based on the idea that students learn most effectively while working with fellow classmates. Cooperative learning is a type of student-centered learning because students are responsible for their own learning. The goal of using a cooperative learning method is to help students embrace their independence and take responsibility for their actions. 

Defining your values, educational philosophy, and personal preferences will help you to determine which teaching style is the best fit for you. Assessing your students and their learning styles will also help to decide which style of teaching is most effective. Whether you choose direct instruction, inquiry-based learning, cooperative learning, or a combination, defining your teaching style with benefit both you and your class.