In this post we are going to explain what is teaching, what is instruction and the views of different scholars on teaching as a component of instruction.
What is TEACHING?
TEACHING has been defined severally by different scholars and authors. For example, Nwachi (1991) defines it as “the imparting of knowledge from one person to another in his own view”, Sheffer (1966) defines TEACHING as “an activity aimed at the achievement of learning and practiced in such a manner as to respect the student’s intellectual integrity and capacity”. Sheffer’s definition tends to be more comprehensive because it captures the content of Nwachi’s definition apart from the additional information it provides, regarding the need to respect the learner in the process of teaching.
It thus implies that the essence of teaching is “Stimulation” and not “Imparting” the definition of teaching may further be elaborated as an activity aimed at bringing about meaningful learning through a method that is morally and pedagogically acceptable. It involves a teacher, a learner, a content presented in the form of knowledge, facts, information, skills, attitudes, beliefs and deliberate intention on the part of the teacher to achieve learning and on the part of the learner to learn. Finally, the process of teaching involves a method that acknowledges the learner’s cognitive integrity and freedom of choice (Bruner, 1966), a method that allows the teacher to stimulate and guide the learner without necessarily imposing anything on him or her.
What is INSTRUCTION?
Literally, INSTRUCTION is the act of telling the trainee or learner what to do and what not to do. Technically, It is the act of building into the mind and soul of the learner skills, knowledge, facts, tenets, principles, and values of one kind or the other.
Scholars differ in their perceptions of the relationship between TEACHING and INSTRUCTION. For example, some scholars use the two terms interchangeably. Smith and Ragan (1999) attest to this assertion when they state that of all the education-related terms, “teaching and instruction may be most often used interchangeably”. Moreover, some scholars are of the opinion that INSTRUCTION is just an aspect of TEACHING and that teaching is broader than instruction. Aggarwal (2005), who is a characteristic representative of this school of thought, asserts that:
Instruction is primarily concerned with the development of knowledge and understanding in the pupil, about a thing, a system or a process. Stimulating knowledge and understanding merely represents one of the several objectives which we want to achieve through teaching. Teaching is concerned with all the domains of pupil’s behaviour, i.e., cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Instruction is one of the several modes of teaching (Aggarwal, 2005. pp. 18-19).
The above quotation shows that to the adherents of this educational school of thought, the concept of TEACHING is broader than the concept of INSTRUCTION. In other words, TEACHING subsumes INSTRUCTION, particularly because, according to the proponents, the act of stimulating knowledge and understanding, which is the primary concern of INSTRUCTION, is just a fraction of what TEACHING aims at achieving. The above position is buttressed by the dictionary definition of INSTRUCTION as: “TEACHING that you are given in a particular skill or subject: religious instruction; driving instruction; instruction in first aid”, etc. (Dictionary of Contemporary English for Advanced Learners, 2009, p. 214).
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However, there is a third group of scholars who hold that INSTRUCTION is broader than TEACHING and that it is INSTRUCTION that rather subsumes the process of TEACHING. This viewpoint is eloquently expressed in the following citation:
In a broader perspective, INSTRUCTION is much more than TEACHING or training because it is systematic, specific and objective. It is the process of leading the learner through a sequence of statements and restatements of a problem or body of knowledge that can increase the learner’s ability to grasp, transform and transfer what he is learning (Bruner, 1966).
What are the Characteristic Features of Instruction and Teaching?
Instruction is essentially different from Teaching in that:
- Instruction could be mediated by programmed material, computer teaching machine, radio, television, videotape, textbook and other instructional aids (Aggarwal, 2005; and Smith and Ragan 1999). However, a human agent, a teacher, is the planner, implementor and evaluator behind mediated and programmed instruction and other application of complex instructional resources.
- It has also been argued that the option of replacing a teacher with instructional materials, facilities and resources, is not possible in the process of teaching.
According to this view, one of the essential elements of teaching is the presence of a live teacher, who must know better than his students (Abimbola, 2009) and be well acquainted with the fundamental principles and practice of teaching. In other words, a teacher cannot be substituted with any other thing in the process of teaching. This is because of his basic responsibilities of having to personally plan; having to personally implement the plan through effective teaching; having to evaluate the extent to which the objectives of the teaching had been achieved; and having to finally make the feedback from the evaluation available to examinees for necessary decision-making.
- PEDAGOGY AS THE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ART ON BASIC CONCEPT OF TEACHING
- Behavioral Objectives and Instructional Objectives
- STRATEGIES OF EFFECTIVE LEARNING
Proponents of this argument have failed to recognise the “personal” planning, implementing, evaluating and instant feedback that go into modern-day virtual / distance teaching and learning. More importantly, this has led us logically to the conclusion that instruction is larger than teaching which essentially involves “the presence of a live teacher who must know better than his/her students”.
There are four components instructional cycle which are pre. teaching, teaching, post-teaching and feedback. Pre-teaching is an important instructional phase as the teacher must plan painstakingly with regard to whom to teach, what to teach, how to teach, when to teach, where to teach and why to teach. At the end of the planning or pre-teaching stage, the teacher produces a teaching plan which varies according to the level of teaching/learner.
Teaching, which is the core of instruction, represents the actual classroom implementation of the teaching plan. Broadly speaking, it involves introduction and presentation of learning activities together with formative evaluation as the teachers and learners interact within the learning environment.
Summative evaluation occurs in the post-teaching phase. Here, the teacher attempts to determine the extent to which the learning objectives set at the pre-teaching phase have been achieved and what to do next. This logically leads to the fourth and final phase of feedback which can be progressive, corrective or remedial. In progressive feedback, the outcome of formative evaluation indicates all the learning objectives have been achieved by all the learners and the teacher then moves on to the next topic. This, however, is only possible in an ideal situation when all the learners are geniuses.
Corrective feedback often takes place in a normal class when a great majority are middle achievers, with a few over-achievers as well as a few under- achievers. Corrective feedback entails going quickly over a few learning difficulties spotted at the end of summative evaluation, before proceeding to the next topic. This can be done at the end of the lesson or at the beginning of the next lesson or at both times.
Remedial feedback occurs when a great majority of the learners have failed to achieve most of the learning objectives. The teacher therefore has to repeat the instructional process by re-planning, re-teaching and re-evaluating the topic until the learners are “ready” for the next level.
Conclusion on Teaching as a Component of Instruction
In this post, we have gone through the essence of teaching, the meaning of instruction, the relationship between the two concepts and some of the major dimensions of teaching. Although some scholars use teaching and instruction interchangeably, others believe that the process of teaching is a component of instruction, from the perspective of cognitive psychology (Bruner 1996). This is because instruction is the process whereby the environment of the learner is deliberately managed to enable him/her learn to exhibit certain behaviours under specified condition(s) or as a response to a specified situation (Bruner, 1966). Beyond teaching, therefore, the teacher must plan ahead before teaching, evaluate his teaching in a way that is consistent with his/her planned and implemented objectives and provide appropriate feedback based on his evaluation outcomes, to drive on the instructional cycle.
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