Three Pedagogic approaches

Most people teach as part of their everyday lives and become good at it. They develop their teaching as an art, learning to explain things clearly, be patient, sharing just enough but not too much, and learning to read people to see if they have understood. For those who teach as a profession, we must take this art and add science to approach teaching systematically. This science helps us understand how learning happens, how to organise teaching to improve its effectiveness, what works for learners, and how we assess that learning occurred.

Pedagogy the method and practice of teaching that attempts to collect the science of learning into practical application. Three common types of learning pedagogies are: 

  • Didactic
  • Authentic
  • Transformative.

Didactic pedagogy is an effective method for large scale education in groups and teaching the basics of education, such as reading, writing, and discipline. It is a teacher-led approach where they, along with textbooks, are the authority of knowledge, and students absorb this knowledge presented to them often with little critical investigation or questioning of the source. University modules that involve a series of lectures and readings followed by a written exam where the student is questioned on the material is an example of didactic pedagogy.

Authentic pedagogy is learner-centred and expects the student to participate in the knowledge transfer and understand the learning through real-life experiences. There is less emphasis on learning through repetition but rather through building understanding from the ground up through self-direct inquiry, problem-solving, and reflection. This can be a slow and involved process, it requires a solid base of the basics, and not everything needs a deep level of understanding. Inquiry-based learning is an excellent example of authentic pedagogy. Students are given questions, problems, or scenarios and are expected to do their own research and then present their findings. 

Transformative pedagogy recognises the changing nature of technology and modern society and that knowledge may not currently exist to address what students need to learn. Instead, transformative approaches focus on problem solving, co-design, and producing new knowledge. One method of transformative pedagogy is project-based learning, where students are presented with a question or issue as a starting point; they then have work to produce a product to address it.  

These three teaching approaches have a place in the modern classroom and in preparing students for the world after university. There is a level of basic facts, knowledge and processes that are needed. Students then need to learn to question authority and established norms to develop a deeper understanding of the world. Finally, learners need to be able to deal with incomplete problems and generate new knowledge and approaches specific to the context they are in. If you were designing a higher learning course, you might even want to divide it into three discrete stages, building from didactic to authentic and finishing with transformative learning…