Archive for the ‘EDU 6526’ Category

Instructional Strategies that Apply Directly to Social Studies and History Curriculum

By Matthew Kieswether

Approval Standard T3: Knowledge of teaching influenced by multiple teaching strategies.  This work attests to my proficiency in this standard because it proves that I know and understand a variety of instructional strategies that apply directly to my content area.  It also proves that I know how to best apply these strategies to my classes for the greatest possible benefit for my students.

Instructional strategies are created from beliefs and understandings about how the human mind works and what kind of activity or process best stimulates learning and understanding.  Each instructional strategy comes from a framework of educational theory and ideas called an Instructional Strategy Family and is categorized under the framework of ideas and understandings from which it was created.  Creators of Instructional Strategies will gravitate toward the Instructional Strategy family that best reflects their understanding and beliefs about how the human mind works.  Two Instructional strategy families are the Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models and the Behavioral Systems Family of Models (Joyce, 2009).  These two models best meet the needs of and are best aligned with the goals of a social studies or history curriculum.

The Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models is built upon the belief and perspective that education is best improved through instructional strategies that work to enhance the processing and storage of new information in learners.  These strategies are based on understandings about how the human mind takes in new information and stores it for future retrieval.  Lessons are built around tasks and procedures that present information in ways that best reflect that learning is mostly the processing and storing of new information.  Students are taught to organize information for better processing and better retention through structures, concepts, and through ways of understanding information (Joyce, 2009).

There are several instructional strategies that fall under the Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models.  The Inductive thinking instructional strategy suggests that some information is best learned in order from specific facts to more general concepts.  The idea is that studying specifics can be utilized to illuminate bigger ideas and higher order thinking (Scheuerman, 2011).  Inductive thinking closely aligns with a history or social studies curriculum because studying facts about events and people is often the task of students in a history or social studies class.   If teachers use the Inductive model, then studying history can become the task of studying dates and facts for the goal of forming an understanding about larger concepts and perspectives about ideas, people, and movements, which all have direct application to student understanding about life and how the world works.

The Concept Attainment Instructional Strategy is built on the idea that knowledge can be organized into categories and subcategories because of how the human mind organizes new information.  The human mind stores new concepts and understandings in different places based on where the information came from, what kind of information it is, what application the information has to larger understandings, etc.  If information is organized in a similar way for students to see and comprehend, then it will be easier for students to process and store large amounts of information (Scheuerman 2011).  Concept Attainment Instructional Strategy closely aligns with a social studies or history curriculum because it allows history to be organized into time periods and historical movements of interest and importance.  Dates and facts about history may have no long term retention value of their own for students but will be retained if they are an important foundation for a larger understanding of historical significance.

The Scientific Inquiry Instructional Strategy is based on the idea that students will better retain an understanding of a topic or subject if they are asked to go through the process of discovering the significance of a subject, reasons for a condition, or a solution to a problem on their own initiative and through their own mental process (Scheuerman, 2011).  This instructional strategy directly applies to when students are asked to do projects on their own or with a group about a subject for a history or a social studies class.  Students will retain the information from a unit for a longer period of time because they had to discover the information on their own and because of all the mental reasoning and processes that went into completing the project.

The Advance Organizers Instructional Strategy states that students will better learn information if they are given a framework of understanding before the lesson to gauge information’s importance and relevance to the larger curriculum and expectations.  If students at the beginning of a unit are told what the unit will be about, what they will be learning, what the individual lessons will be about, and what they should be looking for in each lesson (etc.), then they will be better prepared to understand information’s significance when it is taught and will better retain it (Scheuerman, 2011).  This instructional strategy will prepare students in a history or social studies class to see the larger picture of how individual facts about a specific time and place relate to the larger concepts and movements of that period of history.  Students are then prepped to see where information fits in its significance to the larger understandings that the teacher is trying to get across about history.

The Behavioral Systems Family of Models is based on the concept that information and abilities are best learned by doing.  Instructional strategies are set up so that teachers take students through tasks or processes to establish understanding and comprehension.  The defining feature of instructional strategies in the Behavioral Systems Family of Models is that they assume that the process itself will bring about understanding.  The Behavioral Systems Family of Models is based on the psychology that human beings are the products of their behavior, so good behaviors and correct processes modeled by students will bring about the best understanding and retention of new information (Joyce, 2009).

There are several Instructional Strategies that come from the Behavioral Systems Family of Models.  The Mastery Learning Instructional Strategy is based on Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking skills, who categorized thinking skills and abilities into levels from simple to complex.  This Instructional Strategy says that teachers should teach students about topics in a way that helps students develop the ability to move from lower level thinking skills to higher cognitive processes (Scheuerman, 2011).  If done correctly, this strategy will not only help students establish their own abilities and levels of thinking, but will also help students become inspired about subject matter and learning.  The Master Learning Instructional Strategy aligns with history and social studies curriculum goals.  If used in the history or social studies classroom, it can be utilized to help students move from facts and dates to larger understandings about the human condition through the lessons that have been learned by people throughout history.

Direct Instruction is the most common instructional strategy and is often criticized as being less effective than other strategies.  The Direct Instruction Instructional Strategy states that students are best taught through listening to lectures about the subject and through assessment routines that check for understanding.  Direct Instruction has a distinct academic focus and the materials selected to compliment Direct Instruction focus directly on subject matter and curriculum goals and standards.  The assessment routines used in conjunction with Direct Instruction are formed to gauge student achievement and to increase student ability through immediate correction.  Direct Instruction Instructional strategy also includes allotted time for multiple student practice sessions for the development of ability (Scheuerman, 2011).  The Direct Instruction Instructional Strategy aligns with social studies and history curriculums because of the amount of material about history that must be taught directly to the students.  In contrast to other subjects where a discovery strategy might be more of an effective base for the curriculum, history and social studies classes require that students take in a lot of information about the past that they could not discover quickly enough on their own.  If a teacher intends to cover a great amount of material within a history or social studies class, they must establish a curriculum where students are asked to note the important details of a historical period during a lecture, and then practice taking notes on historical significance with their textbook at home.  Direct instruction should not be the only instructional strategy that is used in a history class, but it can be effective to communicate large amounts of information about history.

The Simulation Instructional Strategy suggests that students can learn through simulating real-world tasks or experiences.  Simulations are guided activities that allow students to simulate ideas, events, and problem solving processes (Scheuerman, 2011).  The concept behind the Simulation Instructional Strategy is that having students act out or simulate experiences allows students to develop abilities and to understand motivations for actions from a clearer perspective.  The Simulation Instructional Strategy is based on the understanding that practicing behaviors allows students to understand concepts and develop abilities.  For history and social studies curriculums, the Simulation Instructional Strategy can be used to help students understand the perspective of people in history and the importance and relevance of topics and issues.  Students can take sides in debates that took place in history or can re-enact experiences of specific significance.  Allowing students to act out pieces of history gives students experiences that illuminate the thoughts and feelings of individuals in history.  Giving students the opportunity to see things from a different point of view helps students grow in their development of seeing history from multiple understandings.

The Social Learning Instructional Strategy seeks to help students establish principles of self-concept (personal value), self-efficacy (personal beliefs in one’s ability), and self-regulation (proactive efforts to mobilize effort and determine progress).   It is built on the perception if good behaviors are modeled by the teacher then students will imitate the teacher and develop an understanding of good habits and practices.  If teachers model the behavior and attitude that they want to see from their students, their students will react to that stimulus by changing their attitude and behaviors accordingly.  In this way, the teacher can help students be responsible for what is required of them and will help them see how to successfully communicate with others in the modern world.  This strategy fights against the influence of the social media, where kids are taught that inappropriate behaviors or practices are desirable and profitable in society.  The Social Learning Strategy seeks to educate students on how to be successful in society, mostly through appropriate modeling of the teacher.  This strategy also suggests that teachers pursue using as many appropriate models as possible in the classroom as well as helping students see the consequences for reprehensible conduct (Scheuerman, 2011).  This Instructional Strategy is useful in helping improve conduct in any classroom but is helpful to social studies and history curriculums specifically because it aims to meet one of the fundamental goals of teaching history: helping students understand the lessons of history so that they and tomorrow’s society might benefit.  The reason that history is taught in schools is because the lessons to be learned from it affect the conduct of today’s citizen.  The Social Learning Instructional Strategy seeks to help students become better citizens by helping them see the consequences of their actions, often through historical examples.  The Social Learning Instructional Strategy fits into a social studies or history curriculum by helping students understand that lessons from history have modern day applications.  By helping students see the importance of behavioral conduct and its effects on quality of life, this strategy helps students start the life process of analyzing new information for its application to personal attitude, perspective, and actions.

Instructional strategies help teachers adapt curriculums to meet the needs of student understanding and processing.  Each instructional strategy comes out of a larger family of instructional strategies that hold to a specific understanding and belief about how education can best be modified for student benefit.  Two instructional strategy families that directly relate to social studies and history curriculums are the Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models and the Behavioral Systems Family of Models (Joyce, 2009).  The Information-Processing Family of Instructional Models includes The Inductive Thinking Instructional Strategy, The Concept Attainment Instructional Strategy, The Scientific Inquiry Instructional Strategy, and the Advance Organizers Instructional Strategy.  The Behavioral Systems Models includes The Mastery Learning Instructional Strategy, The Direct Instruction Instructional Strategy, The Simulation Instructional Strategy, and The Social Learning Instructional Strategy.


Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching. (8th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Seattle Pacific University

Graduate Program, Seattle, WA.  Lectures 1-9.


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Class curriculums are effective or ineffective depending on the specific instructional strategies that are selected to enhance it.  Course content can be stale and boring or it can be fun and inspiring depending on what the teacher does to make the topic engaging and relevant.  The use of one instructional strategy or a few can make education and learning laborious and uninteresting.  Teachers should use as many instructional strategies as possible and should use those strategies when it fits the information and task to inspire learning and comprehension.

The most successful curriculum includes as many various instructional strategies as possible.  The effective teacher understands the multiple intelligences theory of Howard Gardiner and its applications and seeks to instruct students about the topic at hand in as many ways as possible.  Not only do they pursue including many different mediums of communicating content, but they also are informed on multiple strategies of organizing lessons.  Effective teachers vary direct instruction with cooperative learning in group activities, positive self-instruction and self analysis with nondirective teaching, discussing distinct facts that illuminate larger concepts with Inductive learning, analyzing subjects and topics for relevance and importance with Identifying Similarities and Differences, allowing student directed analysis and problem solving with Generating and Testing Hypotheses, etc.  Variable teaching strategies allow students to understand and know information in different ways and the information storage process is enhanced and solidified.

Instructional strategies should be used to fit the educational needs of students. Student understanding of content is dependent on how the information should be processed and comprehended.  Specific understandings require specific intellectual tasks that are brought about through specific instructional strategies.  Instructional strategies should fit the information that needs to be learned.  For example, Direct Instruction can be effective if the information to be processed requires that the students see and comprehend the task to be completed first, to be followed by individual and group practice.  The best example of Direct Instruction used effectively is in math, where how to solve a problem is modeled first by the teacher and then practiced by the students to establish their own ability.  Other examples of instructional strategies that fit the information to be processed is dividing historical periods into sections and concepts for processing and retention in history class, using a process of scientific analysis and inquiry to understand a compound’s chemical makeup in a science class, or using synthetics to encourage creative thought in art class.  Other instructional strategies are developed to address student emotional and behavioral development as well as the most productive class and group interaction and discussion.  Each teacher should understand the purpose and goal of each instructional strategy so that they can be used to the greatest effect.

The ultimate goal of teaching should be to inspire students with a desire to engage the learning process that will take place throughout the rest of their lives.  Unfortunately, today’s students are not often motivated to take ownership of their education.  Varying instructional strategies have the power to make information understandable, dynamic, and relevant, and to make learning fun and exciting.  The knowledge gained through various instructional strategies in class will lay the foundation for future understanding when the knowledge gained through education will become necessary for quality of life.  Teachers should use as many different instructional strategies in their class as possible and should only use instructional strategies when they fit the needs of students for understanding content.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., Polluck, J. E. (2001).  Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement.  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching. (8th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Seattle Pacific University Graduate Program, Seattle, WA.  Lectures 1-9.

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Lack of student motivation is an increasingly large obstacle to student learning and achievement with every new generation.  Instructional strategies identify student feelings and emotions as being at the heart of poor student achievement.  How a student feels about themselves and the work that they do can have detrimental effects to their performance.  In order to increase student motivation, the authors of these instructional strategies argue, the curriculum must be altered to reflect student interest and needs and must contain either symbolic or tangible rewards for student improvement.  The problem with this hypothesis is, however, that neither of these two factors guarantees student achievement.

Lack of student motivation for achievement is constructed from social, family, and individual factors.  A majority of today’s students face a world and a society where most if not all of their physical needs are met.  In most upper and middle class families, kids aren’t in want for the technology and fashionable items that they desire, which is a clear indicator of a wealthy society.  This lack of want is the foundation for a lack of motivation.  If all of their needs are met, what is the motivation for students to work hard to achieve in school or to leave their parent’s home and financial resources after they turn 18?  The presence of rewards will not inspire students to engage in the sometimes painful activity that is working to achieve a goal or goals, and giving students the ability to choose their own curriculum will only allow students to continue in their lack of motivation.  (This analysis does not apply to the growing number of students who face tough economic situations and rough family lives and surroundings.  Their needs are more properly met by a curriculum that addresses their specific needs and adversities.)

The answer to inspiring student achievement, especially at the high school level, is helping them establish an understanding of the importance of their education.  Students need to understand why they are learning specific information in class.  Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences identifies how some students can be intrinsically motivated toward achievement in some subjects and understandings and at the same time not motivated in others.  For this reason, teaching students material assuming that they will catch the application and importance will only lead to students questioning why they are in school in the first place.  High school students need to see the larger perspective of their position as a future member of society and as someone who will need to provide for themselves and others in the future.  This understanding should lead to student motivation to understand for themselves what their strengths are and what kinds of fields they will be most successful in in the future.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 8 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Polluck, J. E. (2001).  Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement.  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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The way that teachers interact with their students has an enormous effect on the success of the students in school and in life.  Students who feel that their education is their own and has the educational environment change to fit their needs develop positive self-images, where negative self-images may have existed before.  Teachers have the responsibility to help change a student’s perception of self-worth through their own perceptions of assessment.

Every human being (with some exceptions) base what they do in life on the feedback that they receive from others.  The reaction that an individual receives from their behavior or from the work that they do causes what the individual will do next.  Will they continue with their behaviors or with the work that they do or will they pursue something else because of the bad reaction that they received.  It is not easy for an individual to continue living in a certain way or with a project they’ve started when they are receiving from their environment only negative feedback.  For teachers, this applies directly to assessment and how individuals are treated in the classroom.  Usually, whatever work a student produces in a classroom is not assessed for its value, but rather for the deficiencies of the work.  The focus of assessment of student tests and papers is always what the student did wrong and what they need to change.  This conceptual mindset of teachers and students for assessment always disregards the time and thought students put into their work.  Students who perform well and need no assistance with their assignments are reinforced by their higher grade.  Lower performing students who need assistance are given no encouragement to continue working toward higher performance.  This conceptual mindset, therefore, of lower achieving and higher achieving students is self-promoting and continuous.  Teachers need another assessment perception that seeks to encourage the development of individuals with challenges that raise their ability level and solidifies their self-esteem and perception of self-worth as an active participator in the learning community.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 8 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

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Citizenship is the fundamental goal of education.  It is the inherent responsibility of schools to prepare students for being active and beneficial members of society.  Each subject is geared toward equipping students with the abilities and understandings that will help them be successful in the future.  Educated, understanding citizens are the members of society that make decisions that lead the nation in wise directions with well-thought out actions and perspectives.  It is important that every school focuses on their responsibility to create better citizens.  Every school’s educational beliefs should be founded on the practices that best accomplish this goal.

In the subject of History, citizenship is promoted through the exploration of moral and societal values.  Every chapter in history contains lessons relating to the experiences of people today.  It is important that every individual studies these lessons so that society doesn’t repeat mistakes that other societies have made in the past.  Because today’s society prides itself on its pluralism, it is difficult to come up with one set of social values that everyone can agree on.  With the variance in background and belief systems in today’s society, it is difficult to elevate one perspective as being the understanding of morality as it is applied to all of humanity.  There is much confusion over what is moral and virtuous in today’s society.  Teachers must, therefore, build the moral values they teach to their students on the nation’s laws, because the majority of society has agreed on these principles, restrictions, and punishments.  For ethical gray areas, where society has not established precedent or agreed on laws, the teacher is limited to discussing their perspective and opinion with the class, allowing the students to make their own determination.  Excluding the morality that has been established by society by law, it is best for history teachers to teach their students the facts surrounding every moral dilemma so that they can make their own conclusions.  In this way, the teacher will be aiding the student to build their own understanding of morality and virtue, which will lead them in their decision making for the rest of their lives.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 6 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

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John Dewey and others have written about the social aspect of knowledge construction. Contrary to the educational precepts of others, understanding is not developed in a vacuum.  Individuals construct their understanding from the analysis of new information and from reflection on their experience and the experience of others.  A smart instructional model capitalizes on using social situations to solidify knowledge and understanding.

Individuals don’t simply take in information to form understanding of material.  Often individuals must grapple with a subject before the components of that subject are solidified.  Students who are expected to remember and understand material usually aren’t prepared for assessment after listening to the teacher’s lecture.  Students must often analyze the information for themes and concepts and then must construct study guides and flash cards from the information given in class.  Understanding is more easily solidified into long term retention if the subject is consistent with a person’s experience or with the experience of a close friend or family.  Then the information, especially in the subject of history, becomes meaningful and is stored because of its application to real life.  If students are asked to grapple with questions that historical situations create, then individuals retain the facts of the case sooner because the information was used to construct an answer to the question.  If students are asked to analyze questions in the context of a small group setting, then the answer to questions posed by historical situations and philosophies will be constructed not only from personal experiences and understanding but also from the experience and understanding of others.

The cooperation model of classroom instruction suggests that teachers use small group work in their instruction as often as possible.  By allowing their students to work with their peers to analyze and process information, the teacher is capitalizing on the social aspect of information understanding and construction.  The process of working through information to find meaning and importance is enhanced by the social interaction that adds to a productive learning atmosphere.  Peers similarly motivated to understand and to process encourages individuals to do their best and to be the most successful.  Understanding different perspectives and being encouraged by the motivation of others adds to the initiative of the individual and creates a healthy learning atmosphere.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 5 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Polluck, J. E. (2001).  Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based

Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement.  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision

and Curriculum Development.

Read Full Post »

Essential to effective practices of teaching history is the use of Advance Organizers.  With the large amount of unfamiliar information to be processed in a history class setting, it is important that the teacher prepare their students for the processing and placement of dates, events, and people.   Advance Organizers lay the foundation for effective learning, allowing the students to construct a place in their memory to understand and to store information learned in their history class.

Advance Organizers are intellectual frameworks that teachers construct to help their students catalog new information.  By defining different categories of meaning or significance, the teacher informs their students what information and concepts will be most important for the students to focus on in a history lecture, film, etc.  If students are given the larger picture of what they are going to be learning first, students have the ability to hang new pieces of information on their intellectual coat hangers (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2009).  By structuring their teaching so that their students can look for patterns and concepts, teachers give their students a better opportunity to understand, process, and retain more information under larger categories and concepts of understanding.

In the subject of history, this means structuring lectures about different periods of history into foreseeable patterns and subjects.  For example, history teachers talking about European history can catalog different periods of history around the most significant person, idea, or events during that time period.  This means that the teacher would probably have a section of their lectures devoted to the people who took part in the events that took place during the time of the Renaissance, which would be the largest advance organizer for the information that comes next.  Under the category of Renaissance, the lectures then could be divided into different focuses of understanding information about the Renaissance period, like sections devoted to political powers and changes, social and economic status and changes, art and music of the period, etc.  By focusing their students’ attention on these specific aspects of the Renaissance, the teacher is providing for the students an intellectual framework for the students to catalog the information that they learned in class.  By repeating this process with different parts of history, the teacher is giving their students the opportunity to better retain information learned in class for processing, for understanding, and for future retrieval.

Scheuerman, R. (2011).  EDU 6526: Survey of Instructional Strategies.  Lect. 4 full text

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009).  Models of Teaching.  Boston: Pearson Education.

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