Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What is the difference between approaches, methods and techniques?

When I was an education student, I often had problems in differentiating teaching approach from teaching methods and teaching techniques. For me, it sounded all the same. Which is why now I am up to the task of trying to describe these three in simple terms which will not be difficult to understand and giving examples of situations to characterize their differences. For the purpose of simplifying this article, we assume that strategy and technique are one and the same.

First we define what a Teaching Approach is. A teaching approach is how you view things. Examples are behaviourist approach – drills, constructivist approach - output-based, integrated approach.

A Teaching Method, on the other hand, is the plan you follow when you are teaching. By applying a certain approach, you come up with procedures and practices for teaching your students. This consists of procedures you follow, steps you take, outline of actions that you have to do. It takes some guidelines from approaches and imparts pointers to strategies. Some examples are the inductive method, deductive method, project method, problem method, lecture method, metacognitive method, unit method, Demonstration, recitation, and the audio lingual method.

Lastly, a Teaching Technique are our own/personal/idiosyncratic strategies we use in order for us to be effective teachers. We adapt our teaching to the kind of students we have such that our instruction is different for every class and for every kind of student. It’s our maneuvering or tactic, a personal way implementing methods, highly individualized and tailor-fitted, customized to students learning styles, needs and interests. Some examples are games, activities, rewards and punishments

Now if we take it that method is the most commonly used term, that may be because the methods take some pointers from approaches, and imparts some of its pointers to strategies.

So basically, an approach is an overview which applies to learning for all kinds of learners. The method is the plan suited for a specific type of learner, and when it is applied to a specific group of students (a specific class or section), it becomes a strategy. If the method is the plan, then the strategy is the actual execution of the plan. Some books interchangeably use them.