For Teachers Updated April 6, 2018

Interactive Teaching Styles Used in the Classroom

By The Room 241 Team November 2, 2012

This post has been updated as of December 2017.

Great teachers are nimble, observant, and responsive, always keeping an open mind about how to best engage their students and get them excited about learning—and that means considering trying out different interactive teaching styles in the classroom. 

Interactive teaching styles are designed around a simple principle: without practical application, students often fail to comprehend the depths of the study material. Interactive teaching is also beneficial for you as the teacher in a number of ways, including:

  • Measurable student accomplishments: Teachers making use of interactive teaching styles are better equipped to assess how well students master a given subject material.
  • Flexibility in teaching: Applying training methods that involve two-way communications will enable you to make quick adjustments in processes and approaches.
  • Practice makes perfect: Interactive instruction enhances the learning process.
  • Student motivation: Two-way teaching dispels student passivity, and when more students are engaged, you’ll have much more fun too.

Applying interactive education

Whereas students often lose interest during lecture-style teaching, interactive teaching styles promote an atmosphere of attention and participation. Make it interesting. Make it exciting. Make it fun. As you well know, telling is not teaching and listening is not learning.

The ARMA International Center for Education offers the following guidelines to express the focus of interactive educational teaching styles:

  • Encourage student participation.
  • Use questions that stimulate response, discussion, and a hands-on experience.
  • Use teaching aids that press for answers, and capture/hold the student’s attention.
  • Set up a workgroup environment.
  • Involve yourself as well as the student.

5 interactive teaching styles that make a difference

Now is the time to start bringing life into your teaching styles. Here are some of the most effective ways to engage your students.

1. Brainstorming — various techniques

Interactive brainstorming is typically performed in group sessions. The process is useful for generating creative thoughts and ideas. Brainstorming helps students learn to pull together. Types of interactive brainstorming include:

  • Structured and unstructured
  • Reverse or negative thinking
  • Nominal group relationships
  • Online interaction such as chat, forums and email
  • Team-idea mapping
  • Group passing
  • Individual brainstorming

2. Think, pair, and share

Establish a problem or a question, then pair your students. Give each pair sufficient time to form a conclusion, and permit each participant to define the conclusion in his or her personal voice. You can also request that one student explain a concept while the other student evaluates what is being learned. Apply different variations of the process—your students will be engaged, communicating, and retaining more information before your eyes.

3. Buzz session

Participants come together in session groups that focus on a single topic. Within each group, every student contributes thoughts and ideas. Encourage discussion and collaboration among the students within each group; everyone should learn from one another’s input and experiences.

4. Incident process

This teaching style involves a case study format, but the process is not so rigid as a full case study training session. The focus is on learning how to solve real problems that involve real people—preparing your students for life beyond your classroom. Provide small groups of students with details from actual incidents and then ask them to develop a workable solution.

5. Q&A sessions

On the heels of every topic introduction, but prior to formal lecturing, ask your students to jot down questions pertaining to the subject matter on 3×5 index cards. After you collect the cards, mix them up and read and answer the student-generated questions.

Time’s up!

Want more interactive teaching techniques? In a presentation on interactive teaching techniques, Kevin Yee from the University of Central Florida provides concise descriptions of 186 different approaches to interactive educational formats. Take a look—and have fun with them. 

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