Teaching Approaches

There are lots of different teaching approaches that we can use and we will apply different approaches in different situations. The list below is by no means exhaustive but does outline some of the key approaches along with some advantages and disadvantages of each.

Teaching Approach





Focuses on the students’ learning needs and includes students in identifying what they want to learn and how they learn it

Students play a more active role in their learning

Requires students to be motivated in their learning and take responsibility for their learning

Students develop their critical, and reflective thinking as they need to make sense of their learning rather than just ‘receiving’ information

The tutor needs to identify how they can facilitate the learning which may be more challenging than discussing content

Small group discussion

Students work collaboratively, learning from each with the tutor moving around the groups to stimulate further discussion and answer questions

Provides more opportunity for discussion and students may feel more comfortable asking questions in smaller groups

It takes time to develop appropriate group activities and the tutor may need to be flexible if discussions veer off topic

Enables development of rapport between students and between the students and the tutor

Students might feel pressured to always be involved and actively contributing, and some students may dominate the discussions


The tutor directs all the learning activities and is responsible for explaining concepts/theories

Enables management of the learning environment

Students may be very passive and not engaged in their learning

Consistent information can be shared with large groups of students

Can be poor at promoting problem solving skills and analytical/critical  thinking as students don’t have the  opportunities to make choices about their learning

Problem-based or inquiry-based learning

Students learn about a subject by working in groups to solve an open-ended problem/ undertake an inquiry, which is usually a real-world challenge.

Students identify their groups’ strengths and areas where they lack knowledge, leading the identification of how they will research the problem

Groups may not consider, and discuss, how they will work together

Students are encouraged to fail as a part of the process and then improve and refine their solutions through continuous reflection

There may be focus on ‘the product’ rather than identifying what they’ve learnt from working together

Flipped classroom

Students are introduced to the learning material before class with classroom time then being used to deepen understanding through discussion with peers and problem-solving activities.

When viewing video content or other materials at home, students have the option of learning at their own pace and then engage fully in learning activities during the class sessions

Unequal access to technological resources or quiet places to study can disadvantages certain groups of students

Tutors can prepare learning materials in advance and can re-use learning materials

It is dependent on students doing the work before class