Facilitating Nondirective Learning For Long-Term Achievement

Program Standard 6

6. Assessment – The teacher uses multiple data elements (both formative and summative) to plan, inform and adjust instruction and evaluate student learning.

6.2 Element – Designing Student Assessments with an Emphasis on Formative Assessment

6.2 Example of Proficient – Teacher has a well-developed strategy to using formative assessment and has designed particular approaches to be used.

Carl Rogers once stated, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn…and change” (Mentis, Dunn-Bernstein, & Mentis, 2008, p. 89). He believed that it was the teacher’s role to facilitate learning for students and create a productive environment without explicitly directing them. This type of education requires teachers and students to become partners in learning instead of relying on the traditional classroom hierarchy (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 285). This method can produce many benefits for learners and have long-term results. Students who understand how to effectively learn new information on their own and then retain that knowledge can do so independently for the rest of their lives. Students who enter college with this kind of self-reliance stand to do far better than those who have always relied on teachers to provide them with direction. Nondirective teaching may seem like a passive endeavor that leaves teachers little to do in the classroom but that is not the case.

carl rogersEducators have an important role to play in this type of teaching and their support and encouragement is crucial to student success. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) asserted that “…the teacher’s goal is to help [students] understand their own needs and values so that they can effectively direct their own educational decisions” (p. 289). Teachers must work to understand their students’ thinking so that they can help each one of them on their educational journey. Questioning is a large part of this teaching style because it serves to not only show students that the teacher is interested in their development but also allows teachers to push them to grow and achieve without directing their learning. Teachers can ask students non-leading questions to get them to think about issues and their own learning in ways they might not have otherwise investigated. Joyce et al. (2015) stated, “ The nondirective approach maintains that the most effective means of uncovering the emotions underlying a problem is to follow the pattern of the students’ feelings as they are freely expressed” (p. 290). These types of questions allow students to openly explore their opinions without fear of judgment which can help negate any pessimistic attitudes those students might have had about learning.

While this method of instructions has the potential to unlock motivation in students, it can be difficult for educators to institute effectively in the classroom. Nondirective teaching actually does require a great deal of teacher involvement. Teachers must be available to nurture their students’ emotional need while remaining unbiased which is a large task to take on. In order for teachers to not bring in their own personal experiences and opinions they first must work to identify and bring any preconceptions to the surface. This task is not a simple one as most people are largely unaware of many of their own underlying ideals. Even if educators are able to remain neutral and not influence their students’ thinking this kind of teaching tends to bring out unexplored emotions in learners. Joyce et al. (2015) suggested, “The nondirective environment raises the emotional elements of the situation more than the intellectual” (p. 295). This type of introspection and development can lead to unpredictable and uncomfortable conversations. Teachers must mentally prepare themselves to deal with unexpected questions and situations. However, despite the potential difficulties inherent to nondirective teaching it is still an important tool for educators to explore. When done well it has the potential to create more conscientious students capable of self-motivated life-long learning.

Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching: Ninth Edition. New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Mentis, M., Dunn-Bernstein, M., & Mentis, M. (2008). Mediated Learning: Teaching, Tasks, and Tools to Unlock Cognitive Potential. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
The photo in this post has been unedited and was found on Pixteller following creative commons licensing.

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