What is Pedagogy?
According to Merriam-Webster, pedagogy is the “art, science, or profession of teaching; especially: education.” This definition covers many aspects of teaching, but pedagogy really comes down to studying teaching methods. There are many moving parts to pedagogy that include teaching styles, feedback, and assessment. While each teacher has a different pedagogical approach to learning in their classroom, they should consider the most effective means of content delivery based on student needs. Do students need more lectures or individual work time? How do the students in the classroom learn best? These pedagogical questions are at the center of approaching learning for students.
Pedagogy in Teaching
Pedagogy in education can either be teacher-centered or learner-centered with a low-tech or high-tech approach. Teacher-centered learning focuses on the teacher giving lectures and sharing content through direct instruction. It fixates on the knowledge the teacher has and imparting that knowledge to students. Teacher-centered assessments are cut and dry meant for students to show they know the knowledge that has been shared with them at the end of a unit.
Student-centered learning directs the student to be an active participant in their own learning process. While the teacher still delivers content, they take on more of a coaching or mentoring role to help students learn. Student-centered assessments are given more frequently to assess knowledge and tend to be more objective.
High-tech and low-tech approaches refer to how much technology a teacher uses to help teach the content. High-tech includes technology such as Google suite, personal devices, WebQuests, and apps. Low-tech is more paper-based, like worksheets and hands-on projects.
Teach.com shows how these approaches can be combined to achieve student learning. A high-tech, teacher-centered approach could include a Prezi presentation over the content or a video sharing information. A high-tech, student-centered approach could be a WebQuest or some type of gamification. The low-tech, teacher-centered method incorporates direct instruction while low-tech, student-centered merges worksheets and hands-on activities and projects.
Each of these approaches to pedagogy within the classroom has benefits and weaknesses. The ultimate way to help students learn is to use a combination of these pedagogical avenues to reach the variety of students within the classroom.
Pedagogy in Education
Pedagogy in education concentrates on the different learning styles of students. Every teacher knows that no two students are exactly the same, and so finding out how students learn helps the teacher create lessons that help each student learn in the way they learn best. There are several different theories as to how students learn. The first is Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which was developed by Howard Gardner in 1983. It states that there are 8 ways in which people learn. The list includes the following learning styles.
Visual-Spatial: These people are good at puzzles, maps, and directions.
Linguistic-Verbal: They are good with words, both spoken and written.
Interpersonal: This type of learner is very intuitive and is good at relationships.
Intrapersonal: This learner is very reflective and self-evaluative.
Logical-Mathematical: This type of learner is good with numbers and problem-solving.
Musical: This learner has a knack for rhythm and music
Bodily-Kinesthetic: This learner is very hands-on and has great hand-eye coordination
Naturalistic: This learner is in tune with nature and their environment.
Garner’s research looked at each learning style and helped determine possible vocations as well as strengths and weaknesses for each type of learner.
Gardner was not the only person to come up with a theory about learning styles. In 1987, Neil Fleming shared his simpler VARK theory with the world. VARK stands for visual, aural, reading/writing, and kinesthetic learning styles. Visual learners learn best by seeing someone else complete the task then attempting it themselves. They function better with charts and diagrams. An aural learner needs to hear the information for them to process it properly. These learners enjoy lectures and reading aloud to themselves. Reading and writing learner prefers to read the textbook and take notes. They also prefer writing definitions and creating notecards. Lastly, a kinesthetic learner needs to try the task for themselves. These learners tend to need to move more frequently and fiddle with items in their hands.
These are two of the most prominent pedagogical approaches to learning styles. Notice that several of the ideas about learning styles is similar. While these are both excellent ideas for learning styles, don’t be overwhelmed. The whole idea behind these theories is that no two students learn exactly the same way. It is the teacher’s job to adjust lessons and incorporate different ways of learning the material to address the different learning styles within the classroom. There is a questionnaire based on Fleming’s theory that students can use to figure out their learning style. This is beneficial for students as well as teachers so they can prepare for lessons and assessments.
Approaches to Teaching Through Pedagogy
There are 5 different pedagogical approaches to teaching. Each one is slightly different, and each teacher needs to decide which approach works best for them. Sometimes, a combination of these approaches can be used as well.
Constructivist: Learners are actively involved in the learning process. They create meaning and knowledge of learning material. Learners do not just passively ingest the material.
Collaborative: Multiple learners work together to learn the material. Small group instruction is based on this concept where different students contribute and help each other learn.
Inquiry-Based: This pedagogical approach is problem-based. Students are presented with real-world problems and have the opportunity to solve them. They ask questions and research further while learning concepts and materials that they may not even realize they are learning. Project-based learning fits in this category.
Integrative: The integrative approach involves multiple academic disciplines. Common language is used cross-curricular so students know what teachers are talking about as well as expectations. This is especially important for reading and writing skills. Based on common language, students can write in non-English classes more proficiently. It also shows students that material learned in one class is beneficial outside those classroom walls.
Reflective: This approach is more for the teacher than the student. The teacher reflects upon lessons, projects, and assessments to see how they can be improved in the future.
Once again, an implementation of a combination of these pedagogical approaches benefits both teachers and students.
One of the most powerful pedagogical examples is where students and teachers produce work and learning together. The teacher becomes more of a mentor or coach helping students achieve the learning goal. Students also work together and use each other’s skills and expertise to accomplish a set of learning tasks. This can be in the form of projects over the course of a unit or something as small as think, pair, share. Collaborating and sharing knowledge is a very powerful tool.
Another effective example of pedagogy is collaboration. After a teacher-led mini-lesson, it is a good idea to let students try out the new skill with a friend. They are slightly more comfortable in a situation where they can ask their friends and the teacher a question than diving into trying the new skill by themselves. It is less daunting with a friend by their side. Students can practice with a partner before attempting to complete their homework on their own.
A final example of good pedagogy is using real-world examples within the classroom. So many times students ask the question, “Why are we learning this?” or “When are we going to use this outside the classroom?”. Using real-world scenarios and problem-solving as part of lessons cements the skills more for students when they can see how it will benefit them after leaving the classroom. Math classes can use word problems; science classes can recreate experiments and research; English classrooms can write emails and resumes. Give students a reason to learn the material.
Pedagogy vs. Andragogy
Pedagogy has to do with children learning, and andragogy has to do with adults learning. While some learning can be the same whether it is adults or children learning, Educators’ Technology gives a great overview of the differences between the two age groups. One of the biggest differences is motivation. Especially as children become adults, their motivation for learning moves from peer pressure to being more self-motivated.
While there are many approaches to the personal pedagogy of each teacher, here are some strategies that can help any teacher
Discussion allows students to process not only their own thought process but also evaluate others’ opinions. Collaboration or cooperative learning benefits students in this aspect where they can learn to respect others’ ideas.
Technology gives students access to any number of resources from across the globe. They can talk to people from different cultures and explore places they could not visit in person.
Use differentiation and small group instruction to meet the more individual needs of your students. Stations, centers, and literature circles are great tools to accomplish this idea.
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