Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning is an important teaching and learning strategy that engages students in the learning process to acquire higher-order thinking skills such as constructing their own understanding and meaning, learning to reason, problem solve and think critically about content (Borich, p. 330). In this approach, the role of the teacher is simply to mediate and adjust the flow of content and complexity toward the intended outcome or objective; there are no wrong answers.
According to Borich, when it comes to self-directed learning, my role will be more of a “monitor and co-inquirer than an information provider” because the knowledge and skills that the students are intended to acquire are not regurgitated or pre-packaged, active exploration and engagement is necessary to reach the finished product (Borich, pp. 332, 334).

I remember English classes in high school where teachers would lecture at me and I became a very passive learner–which probably plays a large role in why I did not realize my love for literature until college. In college, self-directed and discussion-based, cooperative learning was the foundation of each class session and we were required to take responsibility for our learning and to be active participants in the inquiry and discovery of meanings in our texts. This method of learning made all the difference for me and so I intend to employ it when instructing my future high school literature students.

Borich, G.D. (2010). Effective Teaching Methods (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Direct and Indirect Instruction

Instructional variety and flexibility is key to keeping students engaged and interested. Employing a balance of both direct and indirect instruction formats is a valuable way of diversifying teaching strategies to compose, create and manipulate lessons. Direct instruction is teacher-centered, and an effective way of “teaching knowledge acquisition of facts, rules and action sequences…” (Borich, p.223).  Direct instruction is characterized as:

1)   Full-class instruction instead of small groups

2)   Organization of learning around question posed

3)   Provision of detailed and redundant practice

4)   Presenting material so learners master one new fact, rule, or sequence before the next

5)   Arrangement of the room maximizes recitation and practice (p.225)

As a secondary English teacher, I might use direct instruction when teaching my students how to structure and format a research paper, elements of a plot, literary devices or grammar rules for the proper use of commas, colons, and semi colons.

Situations that may require strategies other than direct instruction include

1)   “presenting complex material with objectives at the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation levels of the cognitive domain” (Borich, p.226)

2)   “presenting content that must be learned gradually over a long period” (p.226)

Indirect instruction is more student-focused, and teaches “inquiry and problem solving involving concepts, patters, and abstractions…” (p.223). The inquiry process emphasizes the ways in which things are organized, changing and connected whereas conceptual learning includes identifying essential and nonessential attributes, selecting positive and negative examples, and developing rules that define the attributes of the concept (p.269). Both of these will be learning strategies that I will undoubtedly use in my secondary English classroom to identify literary, interpret and connect literary concepts to deepen student understanding of a variety of texts.


Borich, G.D. (2010). Effective Teaching Methods (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Goals, Standards, and Objectives

Goals are important expressions of our values and “give learners, parents, and the community the reasons [we] are teaching the lessons” planned. Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice by Gary Borich provides five factors worth considering when “establishing goals for what should be learned:

  1. The subject matter we know enough about tot teach (subject-matter mastery)
  2. Societal concerns, which represent what is valued in both the society at large and the local community
  3. Student needs and interests and the abilities and knowledge they bring to school
  4. Your school’s educational philosophy and your community’s priorities
  5. What instructional theory and research tells us can be taught in the classroom” (Borich, 2010, p. 81).

But goals are broad and do not necessarily facilitate or motivate successful learning. From goals, we derive standards which “more specifically identify what must be accomplished and who must do what in order to meet the goals” (Borich, 2010, p. 80). In more recent years, re-evaluations of standards reveal the importance of “commitment to developing a ‘thinking curriculum,’ one that focuses on teaching learner how to think critically, reason, and problem solve in authentic, real-world contexts” (p. 82).


From standards, educators derive objectives, “which convey specific behaviors to be attained, the conditions under which the behaviors must be demonstrated, and the proficiency level at which the behaviors are to be performed based on the learning histories, abilities, and current levels of understanding” of the learners (Borich, 2010, p. 80). Practically speaking, the purpose of an objective is to identify the strategies through which standards can be achieved and to express strategies in a way that allows one to measure their effects on students; a “statement that achieves these two purposes is called a behavioral objective” (p. 84). When organizing lesson plans and writing objectives, it is important to remember that using specific, observable, action verbs allows students to easily identify the task at hand and provides measurability of the observable outcome.


Borich, G.D. (2010). Effective Teaching Methods (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Effective Teaching

According to Effective Teaching Methods by Gary Borich, over the last few decades, new methods have been developed to study interaction patterns between teachers and students in the hopes of discovering “which patterns of teacher behavior promote desirable student performance” (Borich, p.5). Research suggests these are the “five key behaviors essential for effective teaching:

  1. Lesson Clarity
  2. Instructional Variety
  3. Teacher Task Orientation
  4. Engagement in the Learning Process
  5. Student Success Rate” (Borich, p. 7).

Many of the examples and teaching strategies related to these five key behaviors may seem obvious, but in this reflection, I will list a few that I hope to remember to incorporate as a future teacher.

When it comes to “Lesson Clarity” it is important to remember to:

–“Inform learners of the lesson objectives” and connect the lesson to past and future lessons such as through the use of a graphic organizer

–Use “examples, illustrations, and demonstrations to explain and clarify,” restating key points in “at least one modality other than the one in which the students were initially taught”

–Use repetition and provide a summary at the end of the lesson (Borich, p.9)

Teachers should employ “Instructional Variety” to keeping students engaged and to provide for the different ways in which students learn:

–“Use attention-gaining devices” and vary modes of presentation

-Begin the lesson with an activity in a modality that is different from the last lesson or activity”

–Encourage student involvement

–Employ “different types of questions”

–“Establishing an order of daily activities that rotates cycles of seeing, listening, and doing” (Borich, p. 10)