Unit IV: Teaching Method & Techniques

1. Stages of Learning – Acquisition, maintenance, fluency and generalization

2. Principles of Teaching- concrete, iconic, symbolic,

3. Teaching Strategies – task analysis, prompting, fading, shaping, chaining

4. Teaching Approaches – multi sensory, project method, play way

5. One to one teaching and group teaching



1. Stages of Learning – Acquisition, maintenance, fluency and generalization

Crow and Crow , 1975 - learning is the acquisition of habit , knowledge and attitudes. It involves new ways of doing things and it operates in individual's attempt to overcome obstacles or to new situations . It represents progressive changes in behaviour and further enables the individual to satisfy interest to attain goals .

Stages of  learning

·      Acquisition - refers to acquiring new skill and knowledge. In this the individual has begun to learn how to complete the target skill correctly but is not yet fluent in the skill .The goal in this phase is to improve accuracy.

·      Proficiency - the individual learns to perform a task or an activity to a higher level of accuracy that further leads to practice, feedback and/or reward.

·      Maintenence - refers to retention of learned knowledge,  skill or behaviour.

·      Generalization - refers to implementation of skill or  behaviour across settings , individual and/or time . Automatically transferring learning to new situation or setting.


2. Principles of Teaching- concrete, iconic, symbolic

Bruner (1966) was concerned with how knowledge is represented and organized through different modes of thinking (or representation).

Three Stages of Representation

Jerome Bruner identified three stages of cognitive representation.

1.     Enactive, which is the representation of knowledge through actions.

2.     Iconic, which is the visual summarization of images.

3.     Symbolic representation, which is the use of words and other symbols to describe experiences.

The enactive stage appears first. This stage involves the encoding and storage of information. There is a direct manipulation of objects without any internal representation of the objects.

This mode is used within the first year of life (corresponding with Piaget’s sensorimotor stage). Thinking is based entirely on physical actions, and infants learn by doing, rather than by internal representation (or thinking).

It involves encoding physical action based information and storing it in our memory. For example, in the form of movement as a muscle memory, a baby might remember the action of shaking a rattle.

This mode continues later in many physical activities, such as learning to ride a bike.

Many adults can perform a variety of motor tasks (typing, sewing a shirt, operating a lawn mower) that they would find difficult to describe in iconic (picture) or symbolic (word) form.

For example, a baby shakes a rattle and hears a noise. The baby has directly manipulated the rattle and the outcome was a pleasurable sound. In the future, the baby may shake his hand, even if there is no rattle, expecting his hand to produce the rattling sounds. The baby does not have an internal representation of the rattle and, therefore, does not understand that it needs the rattle in order to produce the sound.

The iconic stage appears from one to six years old. This stage involves an internal representation of external objects visually in the form of a mental image or icon. For example, a child drawing an image of a tree or thinking of an image of a tree would be representative of this stage.

Information is stored as sensory images (icons), usually visual ones, like pictures in the mind. For some, this is conscious; others say they don’t experience it.

This may explain why, when we are learning a new subject, it is often helpful to have diagrams or illustrations to accompany the verbal information.

Thinking is also based on the use of other mental images (icons), such as hearing, smell or touch.

The symbolic stage, from seven years and up, is when information is stored in the form of a code or symbol such as language. Each symbol has a fixed relation to something it represents. For example, the word 'dog' is a symbolic representation for a single class of animal. Symbols, unlike mental images or memorized actions, can be classified and organized. In this stage, most information is stored as words, mathematical symbols, or in other symbol systems.

This develops last. This is where information is stored in the form of a code or symbol, such as language. This mode is acquired around six to seven years-old (corresponding to Piaget’s concrete operational stage).

In the symbolic stage, knowledge is stored primarily as words, mathematical symbols, or in other symbol systems, such as music.

Symbols are flexible in that they can be manipulated, ordered, classified, etc. so the user isn’t constrained by actions or images (which have a fixed relation to that which they represent).

Bruner believed that all learning occurs through the stages we just discussed. Bruner also believed that learning should begin with direct manipulation of objects. For example, in math education, Bruner promoted the use of algebra tiles, coins, and other items that could be manipulated.


3. Teaching Strategies – task analysis, prompting, fading, shaping, chaining

Task Analysis

Due to the intellectual impairment, the children with mental retardation have limited capacity to learn, retain and recall the learned skills. The tasks like eating, dressing or bathing, which non-disabled children learn to do by themselves after certain age are to be taught to children with mental retardation. Further, it is observed that children with mental retardation are unable to learn the task as a whole, but when presented the task in simple steps, they are able to make better progress. The process of identifying these small steps is known as task analysis.

What is task analysis?
To tell you in simple words, it is the analysis of a task into simpler steps and arranging them in a sequential order. Macarthy (1987) states that task analysis is a teaching strategy in which the task is broken down into teachable components and arranged in sequential order. It is a blueprint for instruction/ teaching, through which a student should proceed to achieve the terminal goal. It describes an end point of what must be learned but not the methods that will be employed for learning. Therefore, it is not a teaching methodology.

Need for task analysis
Task analytic approach helps us in pinpointing students functioning level on a specific task and also provides basis for sequential instruction. In addition, we can tailor-make the sub-tasks as per each students pace of learning. It is very important when we are teaching children with severe and profound mental retardation. For them, the steps must be sequenced with more precision and care, not ignoring any minute detail.

Procedure for analyzing the task
Yes, you need to, follow the steps given below.

If a task has numerous sub-tasks, take a set of only 10-12 sub-tasks sequentially at a time, to teach. When the student learns then take another 10-12 sub-tasks and finally link all of them from the total task.

Methods for analyzing the tasks
For analyzing task, a few methods have been suggested, hence, any of which you may use. After identifying and specifying the task to be taught, you have to do a systematic analysis of the task and organize the sub-tasks in a hierarchical order. The following are some of the methods.

1.     Watch a master: In this method, you observe another person performing the task and write down the steps. Ask your friend to do the task, which you have selected for the student for teaching. Observe him/her keenly and write the steps

2.     Self-monitoring: perform the selected task by yourself and list the steps. Sometimes, doing the  task and writing the steps may be difficult as the writing will interrupt the performance of task.

3.     Backward chaining: In this method, focus at the terminal objective and write down the components in the preceding level of difficulty – i.e., recording from last step to first step.

4.     Brainstorm: First, write down all the component steps irrespective of the sequence. Later, arrange the steps in a logical order.

To check whether your statements of sub-tasks are clear, or whether you have noted down all the components of the task, do the exercise as suggested below. We need two persons, one to read the statements and another to follow the instructions and perform. A few audience to observe the person performing the task will be helpful. Ask the person who has to read the statements to face the wall and the other to face audience. Instruct the person who has to perform the task to follow strictly the way the steps are read. The person will complete the task if the statements are clear, if not she will end up not completing the task. It is a very useful exercise to check the clarity of the statements and you will enjoy doing this activity, as well as correct errors in the listing.


Shaping refers to sequential, systematic reinforcement of successive approximations of target behaviour until the behaviour is achieved. Suppose a teacher wants Harish to remain in his seat for an entire 20 minutes work period. She has observed that Harish has never remained in his seat for longer than 5 minutes with an average of 2 minutes. A programme in which Harish earns a reinforcer for remaining in his seat for 20 minutes will never happen and Harish will never earn a reinforcer. Instead of this approach, the teacher defines her target behaviour as Harish remaining in his seat for the full 20 minutes but sets up a graduated sequence of criteria.

- Harish remains in his seat for 3 minutes.
- Harish remains in his seat for 5 minutes.
- Harish remains in his seat for 10 minutes.
- Harish remains in his seat for 15 minutes.
- Harish remains in his seat for 20 minutes.

Each step in the sequence will be reinforced until established. Then the criterion for reinforcement will be shifted to the next step. Shaping procedures may be used to establish new behaviours of many kinds, ranging from verbal behaviour in severely disabled students to study behaviours in college students.

Shaping appears deceptively simple. Its efficient use requires great skill on the part of the teacher. First, the teacher should have the skill to precisely describe the target behaviour. Second is the skill required planning a shaping programme. The steps planned should be neither too small nor too large. Finally the teacher must consider how long to remain at each plateau – just long enough to establish the behaviour solidly, but not so long that the student becomes struck at that level.

There are six steps that should be followed in shaping behaviour.

1.     Select the target behaviour in precise and behavioural terms.

2.     Obtain baseline data on how often the target behaviour is occurring in the natural environment.

3.     Select appropriate reinforcers.

4.     Reinforce successive approximations.

5.     Reinforce the target behaviour each time it occurs.

6.     At the appropriate time, reinforce the target behaviour on an intermittent schedule.


Chaining refers to the actual process by which each of the responses is linked to one another to form the behavioural chain. The identification of response sequence is done through a task analysis.

Backward Chaining
When backward chaining is used, the components of the chain are acquired in reverse order. The last component is taught first, and other components are added one at a time. For example, to teach the task “taking off shirt”. The child is given the instruction, “Raghu, take your shirt off”, and his shirt is pulled over his head until the arms are free and the neckband is caught just above this eyes. If the child does not automatically pull the short off, he is physically guided to do so. Primary and social reinforcers are then given. During the next training session, the neckband is left at his neck, in subsequent sessions, one arm, then both arms are left in the sleeves. The verbal instruction, “Raghu, take off your shirt”, is always presented and reinforcers given only when the task is completed.

Forward Chaining
When forward chaining is used, the teacher starts with the first link in the chain, trains it to criterion, and then goes on to the next. The student may be required to perform all the steps previously mastered each time, or each step may be separately trained to criterion and then the links made. To use forward chaining to teach undressing skills, the teacher would start with the student fully dressed, deliver the instruction, “Raghu, take your shirt off”, and then provide whatever prompting was required to get Raghu to cross his arms and grab the bottom of his tee-shirt. When Raghu reliably performed this behaviour, she would add the next step until Raghu shirt is.

Prompting And Fading

 A prompt is a form of temporary assistance used to help a student perform in a desired manner. When a student is unable to perform a task, a prompt (temporary assistance) is used to help the student perform the task. As the student learns to perform the task, the temporary prompt is faded (slowly removed) from use. Different types of prompts and methods of fading are discussed below.

e.g.- When a skill is taught by using ‘hand over hand’ prompt, it should be withdrawn as soon as possible so that child can perfrorm the task without prompt.

Using prompting and fading

If a student does not perform a task/activity when we make a verbal request, prompts are introduced in the following manner until the student has made the desired response.     


Verbal Request (VR)
VR + Verbal Prompt (VP)
VR + VP + Gestural Prompt (GP)
VR + VP + Modelling Prompt (MP)
VR + VP + Physical Prompt (PP)

For example, a child is requested to wear a shirt. If the child does not wear the shirt, give verbal prompt and wait for few seconds. When no response occurs, the next level prompt (GP) is given. Similarly depending on the response the prompt levels will be increased. The prompts are introduced in the “least-to-most prompts sequence” as indicated above. This helps in finding out precisely at what prompt level the student is able to perform a task and also in gradual fading of prompts.

Giving additional instructions, emphasizing important words by saying them louder or longer, giving single word reminders, bringing attention to each important part of the instruction by pausing, are some of the verbal prompts used in teaching tasks.

Gestural prompts
Gestural prompts are pointing the place where the response is to be made, making noise by tapping finger where the response is to be made, and using finger to relate the part of the task along with a verbal prompt.

Modelling is a method of teaching by demonstration. In this, the teacher models the performance of a task and the student imitates the model. The modelling prompt is used when student fails to perform the activity following a verbal prompt and gestural prompt.

Physical prompt
Here, a teacher uses her hands to support a student to go through the steps of a task. The teacher may give complete physical support/partial physical support depending on the type of support required by the student.

Among the above prompts the one with least assistance is the verbal prompt and that of most assistant is the physical prompt. While providing prompts, the teacher needs to check the level of assistance required by the student in the beginning so that appropriate assistance is provided and the student moves forward. As the student learn each step, the temporary assistance is faded away and the student is made to perform the task by himself.

FADING: The process of gradual decrease in assistance or help by so that the child could begins to perform the activity or behavior independently, called Fading.

For example, fading the physical prompt of guiding a child’s hands may follow this sequence: (a) supporting wrists, (b) touching hands lightly, (c) touching forearm or elbow, and (d) withdrawing physical contact altogether. Fading ensures that the child does not become overly dependent on a particular prompt when learning a new skill. One of the first decisions that should be made when teaching a new behavior is how to fade the prompt or prompts. A plan should be in place to fade the prompts in an orderly fashion. 

The approach of fading is built on studies in operant conditioning in which a new stimulus was presented alongside an existing one to which a response had been learnt. The old stimulus was gradually faded out, by a process of stimulus attenuation, its frequency or intensity reduced, and it was shown that this allowed the new stimulus to gain control of the response.

Ø Stimulus attenuation: Gradual decreasing of an external stimulus.

Ø Applied Behavior Analysis: Behavior Analysis is the scientific study of behavior. Applied behavior analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior.

Ø Operant conditioning: A learning process in which the likelihood of a specific behavior increases or decreases in response to reinforcementor punishment that occurs when the behavior is exhibited, 

Ø so that the subject comes to associate the behavior withthe pleasure from the reinforcement or the displeasure from the punishment.


4. Teaching Approaches – multi sensory, project method, play way

Multi-Sensory Approach

Multisensory Approach is the simultaneous use of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile to enhance memory and learning.

 Links are consistently made between the visuals (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic- tactile (what we do or feel) which enable the learner to store the information directly to the brain in its real sense.


Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process. Children work in groups and individually to discover and explore knowledge of the world and to develop their maximum potential.

Montessori classrooms are beautifully crafted environments designed to meet the needs of children in a specific age range. Dr. Maria Montessori discovered that experiential learning in this type of classroom led to a deeper understanding of language, mathematics, science, music, social interactions and much more. Most Montessori classrooms are secular in nature, although the Montessori educational method can be integrated successfully into a faith-based program.

Every material in a Montessori classroom supports an aspect of child development, creating a match between the child’s natural interests and the available activities. Children can learn through their own experience and at their own pace. They can respond at any moment to the natural curiosities that exist in all humans and build a solid foundation for life-long learning.

Hallmarks of Montessori

Components necessary for a program to be considered authentically Montessori include multiage groupings that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and guided choice of work activity. In addition, a full complement of specially designed Montessori learning materials are meticulously arranged and available for use in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

The teacher, child, and environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is  prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed.

Multiage groupings are a hallmark of the Montessori Method: younger children learn from older children; older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered. This arrangement also mirrors the real world, where individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions.

Dr. Montessori observed that children experience sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity, as they grow. As their students develop, Montessori teachers match appropriate lessons and materials to these sensitive periods when learning is most naturally absorbed and internalized.

In early childhood, Montessori students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.

In the elementary years, the child continues to organize his thinking through work with the Montessori learning materials and an interdisciplinary curriculum as he passes from the concrete to the abstract.  He begins the application of his knowledge to real-world experiences.

This organization of information—facts and figures—prepares the child for the world of adolescence, when thought and emotion evolve into understanding more abstract, universal concepts such as equity, freedom, and justice.          

Inside A Montessori Classroom

Montessori classrooms are peaceful, happy places designed to meet the developmental needs of each child in every stage of life.

They contain many places for children to learn and play, in many different ways: by themselves, in pairs, in small groups, in large groups, inside, outside, at tables, on the floor. All items in the environment are scaled to the child’s size, including furniture, shelves, utensils, dishware, cleaning implements and the Montessori materials themselves. There is no focal center to the classroom; this reflects that the teacher is not the focus of the children’s attention, but that they are all one community together. Bright and attractive colors, natural materials, fascinating cultural objects and interesting pictures on the wall all offer the children complex sensory and intellectual experiences. When children first enter a Montessori environment, there is an immediate and touching moment when they realize that this place is for them.

In Montessori classrooms, children are taught how to regulate their own social interactions. Through fun role-playing activities and appropriate modeling, the teacher demonstrates the best way to respond to arguments or new situations, giving the child the ability to act confidently and pro-socially when the actual problem arises. The result is a self-regulating classroom, in which natural social tensions are resolved mostly by the children themselves.

Children move freely throughout the environment, choosing activities that interest them, or working with the teacher, individually, or in small groups. Their movement is unrestricted by the teacher unless it endangers themselves, other people, or their surroundings. Outdoor environments are important in Montessori schools, and offer opportunities to engage with the natural world.


The project method is a teacher-facilitated collaborative approach in which students acquire and apply knowledge and skills to define and solve realistic problems using a process of extended inquiry. Projects are student-centered, following standards, parameters, and milestones clearly identified by the instructor. Students have control over the planning, refining, presenting, and reflecting of the project. Through projects, students are engaged in innovation and creativity.

Project method of teaching has evolved from the philosophy of programatists. It is experience-centered strategy related to life-situation. This teaching strategy focus on

1.     To socialize a child

2.     To achieve cognitive, affective and psychomotor objectives

This teaching strategy is based on the following principles:

1.     Principle of Utility. Choose those projects which are closer to the social life.

2.     Principle of readiness. Involve the learners in finding the solution of the problem with their active participation.

3.     Learning by Doing. Learner performs certain tasks and experiences new things. This adds to his knowledge and results in learning.

4.     Socialization. It develops the feeling of cooperation and group work.

5.     Inter-disciplinary Approach. To involve the knowledge of different subjects in solving the social problems.

Types of Project Method of Teaching

According to Kilpatric, “A project is a whole-hearted purposeful activity proceeding in a social environment. Kilpatric has classified the project method in four types.

1.     Constructive. When learners have to construct some things related to social life. e.g. charts, models, maps, parcels etc.

2.     Artistic. These projects are generally allotted in the aesthetic fields of life. e.g. in music, drawing, painting art and culture.

3.     Problem-Solving. These projects are given to solve the problems related to any life-situation or related to any subject e.g. how to operate bank accounts? Or how to send an email or letter. These general problems if solved, will make a child efficient for social-life.

4.     Group-Work. A team of students is assigned a work to be performed. e.g. to develop a garden in the school.

There are four basic elements of this teaching strategy which make it purposeful 1. Spontaneity, Purpose, Significance, and Interest or Motivation.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Project method of Teaching


1.     It helps in developing social norms and social values among the learners.

2.     It provides invaluable opportunities for correlation of various elements of the subject matter and for transfer of training or learning.

3.     It helps in growing knowledge very effectively as a results of their close cooperation on social participation in the spirit of democracy.


1.     The project cannot be planned for all subjects and whole subject matter cannot be taught by this strategy.

2.     It is not economical from the point of view of time and cost.

3.     It is very difficult for a teacher to plan or to execute the projects to the learners and supervise them.


Play Way Method

Play way in education aims to introduce the spirit of play in all educational institutions. The methods and techniques used for imparting education must be able to create an environment in which the child can learn his lesson or acquire the desired knowledge.

Play-way in education insists on child centered education. It advocates educating children through activities in which children can put their heart and soul and work in an atmosphere of freedom and spontaneity.


5. One to one teaching and group teaching

There are many benefits to enrolling in schools with one-to-one instruction where one teacher works with one student exclusively. Some of these benefits include:

1. High quality interaction where the student feels that he or she is heard.

With a one-to-one learning environment, the student is able to communicate open and honestly with his or her instructor. Due to the personal attention, the instructor is more committed to listening to and helping the student and giving them the help and attention they need.

In many cases, the conversations are student driven. The student has control over the questions they ask and has time to digest the feedback they receive from the instructors.

2. The teacher is able to gauge the student's progress and mastery of the subject(s).

It's important to check the progress of the student from time to time. The teacher is able to gauge the success and struggles of the student, even if the student chooses not to volunteer to respond. When the student is performing poorly, the instructor will know, make corrections,and adjust the lesson plans and projects so as to meet the student's pacing and need for reteaching.

3. It gives the students the opportunity to step up and not rely on others.

Some students normally rely on other, and unfortunately often copy someone else's work during tests. The student might be afraid to confide in the teacher or to seek clarification on a certain subject that he or she didn't quite understand if peers can hear.

However, in a one-to-one school, the student does not rely on peers and is responsible for answering every question. If the student doesn't understand a certain concept or lesson, they can simply ask the teacher for further clarification in a private setting where there is no pressure to pretend understanding or to pass to another student.

As simple as this process is, this increases a student's personal responsibility over their learning, and builds confidence.

4. It avoids overstimulation and eliminates distractions.

Students normally get interrupted by their peers from time to time. This can greatly affect their ability to understand concepts in class, and cause frustration when they are ready to move forward more quickly.

Without the distraction and overstimulation of a room full of peers, students are able to focus all attention on their instructor and the material being taught. This can help the students to perform better on assignments, and their tests and exams.

5. Low stress environment

You will realize that students can perform poorly if they are learning in a stressful environment. Through one-to-one interactions, students learn to trust their teachers and are given a completely safe place to openly share their problems.

More often than not, some students fear answering questions in a classroom setting with peers where they might be perceived as a "know-it-all." Others fear making mistakes potentially feeling embarrassed in front of their peers or teacher, so they hesitate to take the kinds of risks that lead to greater understanding. However, with one-to-one instruction, the student can freely express themselves to the instructor and get the help and attention they need.

6. If the student is absent, the class will not go on.

A student might be absent due to several reasons. When the student is absent, instruction pauses until the student is able to return. The class will not go on, and the lesson will not be missed.

7. Ability to personalize conversations and assignments.

Students are not only able to address the things that they do not understand, but they're also able to curate conversations with the instructor in order to incorporate their interests.

As a result of this, the student can actually develop their course schedules, projects, reading lists and other class elements based on personal interests, resulting in greater engagement and motivation.

8. The instructor is able to adapt to the student's communication style.

One-to-one interactions give the student ample opportunities to practice their interpersonal communication skills. The instructor is able to adapt to the student's communication style, and to allow the right amount of "wait time" after asking questions so that they student can process the question and provide a thoughtful answer.

In one-to-one class settings, the students do not need to decode the messages their instructor give them. They don't have to figure out how to communicate back to the teacher, and can practice or seek greater clarification when they haven't worded a responses exactly on target. With one-to-one instruction, communication and sharing of ideas are aligned with the student first.


 One to one classes are not easy and they deserve more attention from material writers, trainers and employers. Successful teaching in a one to one class may be a case of finding out what you can use from your own bank of tools, and how these can be developed and changed to suit each new learner – at least until a more complete methodology is developed to support teachers in this challenging but potentially hugely rewarding area.

Group teaching is a teaching approach widely applied in many educational programmes on an international level. It takes various formats as a teaching method, such as ability grouping, mixed-ability grouping, mixed-age grouping etc.

Research results from the application of these methods are controversial. There is adequate research evidence in favour of grouping students and equally adequate against grouping. There are variations in the results according to the type of grouping; for instance there are different results for ability grouping and different for mixed-ability grouping. However, most of the surveys have been conducted in monograde schools and refer to comparisons between grouping of students and the graded system of classes, following a centrally specified educational curriculum.

In multigrade schools the situation differs. Usually it is very difficult, if not impossible, to follow the curriculum for each grade in the form that ministries of education in various countries prescribe. In the case of multigrade schools, the grouping of students is considered to be a valuable method of managing the class and teaching the students. Grouping facilitates the management of the class by assisting teachers to save and make use of their teaching time in the most effective way. While the teacher is occupied by teaching to one group, the rest of the students are working in groups with already allocated tasks, thus spending their time productively.

In a multigrade class, there are many ways of grouping students, such as grouping by their age or grade or by their abilities and skills. It is also possible to create different groups according to the teaching subject or the learning activity. Though it is not always clear which is the best way for grouping students, there are some useful advice that help teachers to decide what kind of grouping is suitable for their class.