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Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Hot Topics/Teaching Styles

< Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education‎ | Hot Topics
What teaching styles can educators employ?

Style in teaching is more than a superficial collection of interesting mannerisms used to create an impression; it is best viewed as a persuasive quality that plays an important role in several aspects of teaching. Personal qualities can direct and guide the selection of instructional processes. Just as each student has their own individual learning styles, teachers have certain teaching styles that work best for them. It is important to be aware of your personal preferences when creating and delivering lesson plans. However, one must not limit themselves to one particular style of teaching because not every student learns the same way. It is a number one priority to keep the students in mind when thinking of ideas for your classroom.(Michigan State University Board of Trustees 2007)


Background InformationEdit

There is a symbiotic relationship among our personal qualities, the instructional processes we employ to convey the content and the styles our students display as learners. It is proven by research that most teachers teach the way they were taught. It is a good idea to first put yourself in the student’s position, so you are aware of the students’ capability of understanding the material at hand. Typically these teachers are field independent, meaning they are more content oriented and prefer to use more formal teaching methods favoring less student involvement and more structured activities in the classroom. Research also supports the view that if students learning preference matches the teachers teaching style the student will be more motivated to achieve their learning goals (Miller 2001).

Teaching StylesEdit

Formal AuthorityEdit

Many of the different teaching styles include formal authority, demonstrator or personal model, facilitator and delegator. Teachers who use the formal authority teaching style focus mainly on content. Formal authority is teacher centered where the teacher is responsible for controlling and providing the amount of content and how the student is expected to receive and interpret the content. This form of teaching style is not concerned with building relationships with their students nor is it important that their students form relationships with other students. One negative aspect of this form of teaching style is that it does not require much student participation in class; this can cause the student to loose interest in the course material, thus leading to sleeping in class or not attending the class at all. However, this teaching style may work better with students who become frustrated when facing new challenges that aren’t explained, or with students who like to compete with peers for classrom rewards.(Jennifer Stein, Linda Steeves, and Christine Simth-Mitsuhashi 2001)


Teachers who like their classroom to be more interactive would choose the demonstrator or personal model teaching style, which tends to be teacher-centered with emphasis on demonstration and modeling. This type of teacher is perceived as a role model by demonstrating skills, thus, helping students develop and apply these skills and knowledge. It is important that students can independently solve similar problems by using and adapting demonstrated methods. Teachers that use this style of teaching are interested in encouraging student participation and adapting their presentation to include various learning styles. Students should take some responsibility for learning course material as well as asking for help when they don’t understand the content. This style works best with students who enjoy working with their peers as well as others who may become easily frustrated.


Teachers who use the facilitator style of teaching focus on activities conducted in the classroom. This style of teaching emphasizes student-centered learning placing more responsibility on the student for meeting the demands of various learning tasks. The facilitative style of teaching is best for students who are independent learners and who are willing to actively participate and collaborate with their peers in or outside of the classroom. Facilitative teaching is also designed for group activities which are used to necessitate active learning, problem solving, and student to student interaction. This method was designed to provide activities which require student processing and application of course content in an original and creative manner. However, it may become difficult for students who have an aggressive behavior to succeed when being taught with this teaching method.


Teacher who use delegator teaching style place control and responsibility for learning on individual or groups of students. A delegative teacher is one who always gives the students' a choice to implement their own complex learning projects. These particular students will often have to work independently or in groups and it is necessary for them to maintain motivation and focus. The goal of delegative teaching style is to teach students more than just course material such as making them be effective in group effort and be able to manage interpersonal relationships. Students who are taught by the delegative teaching method will be able to retain more information and use the critical thinking process to manage daily tasks or projects.

Multiple Choice QuestionsEdit

Click to reveal the answer.

There is a ______ relationship among personal qualities and the instructional processes we employ to convey the content and styles our students display as learners.
A. Ironic
B. Hypnotic
C. Erotic
D. Symbolic

D. Symbolic

The goal of which teaching style is to teach more than just course material but also how to manage interpersonal relationships?
A. Formal
B. Facilitative
C. Demonstrative
D. Educative
E. Delegative

E. Delegative

(This lesson is incomplete. Click "edit" to provide an example.)

A. Style

Which of the following teaching styles works best with every student?
A. Formal
B. Delegative
C. Facilitative
D. None of the above

D. None of the above

It is proven by research that most instructors teach the way they were taught.
A. True
B. False

A. True

If a teacher finds that she cannot fit comfortably into any teaching style she has seen or studied, what might be a good solution?
A. Give up teaching.
B. Go with the style that most closely fits her.
C. Ask her peers which style they recommend.
D. Create her own teaching style that fits her well.

D. Create her own teaching style that fits her well.

If a teacher notices that most of the students in her gifted class are independent learners who take a proactive approach to learning, which style might she adopt in teaching them?
A. Formal Authority
B. Demonstrator
C. Facilitator
D. Delegator

C. Facilitator

A middle-school math teacher usually uses the formal authority teaching style. What is the most likely reason?
A. His teachers growing up taught him this way.
B. His college professors taught him to teach this way.
C. His peers recommended that he teach this way.
D. His students asked to be taught this way.

A. His teachers growing up taught him this way.

Essay QuestionEdit

Which teaching style do you prefer and why?