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EDG7362 - Instruction: Theory and Research


Behavioral Systems

The focus of the methods associated with this category is on observable skills and behaviors. These methods have generally proved more likely to positively impact scores on standardized tests of basic skills than models in other categories.

Direct Instruction--highly structured, teacher-directed; maximization of student learning time
Mastery Learning--given enough time and quality instruction, nearly all students can master any set of objectives

Information-Processing Approaches

The focus of the methods associated with information processing approaches are more linked to concepts and principles developed in cognitive psychology. Many of the tests used to measure school learning are being modified so that they consider important mental processing skills that these models are designed to address.

Inquiry Training/Inductive Thinking--focus on concept formation, interpretation of data, and formation of principles and theories
Concept Attainment--focus on categorizing, concept formation, and concept attainment
Intellectual Development--based on the cognitive developmental theory of Jean Piaget

Personal Development

The focus of these models is on those outcomes held in high regard by humanistic educators: high self-concept and self-esteem; positive self-direction and independence; creativity and curiosity; and the development of affect and emotions. Most of the methods used are associated with open education. While these models have not demonstrated an ability to impact outcomes associated with traditional education, they do show promise in impacting other outcomes important for the information age.

Facilitative teaching--student-centered; based on the methods of Carl Rogers
Increasing Personal Awareness--focus is on developing an awareness and fullfillment of individual potential
Synectics--focus on the development and application of creativity

Social Interaction

The models associated with the social interaction family are focused on developing the concepts and skills needed to work in groups. Cooperative learning has demonstrated an ability to impact standard achievement measures as well as group interaction.

Cooperative Learning --focus is on working in groups; based on the methods of Slavin and Johnson and Johnson
Role playing--focus is on the study and development of social behavior and values


In my review of the research literature on effective instruction, it is my opinion that most teachers will work with most students more effectively using the direct or explicit instruction model when the desired outcome is a score on a standardized test of basic skills. When this basic method is used as the foundation for instruction and supplemented with techniques used in the others (e.g., asking higher-level questions, using facilitative teaching techniques, and using cooperative learning activities for guided and independent practice), I believe classroom teachers will use the best educational practices as we now understand them.

Reference Joyce, B., & Weil, M., & Calhoun,  E. (2003). Models of teaching (7th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Citation: Huitt, W. (2003). Models of teaching/instruction. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [date], from