Teaching methods that favour 21st century learners

CBC: Kimase primary school grade 4 class teacher Ruth Nyandieka shows pupils how to cook tubers (energy giving foods) using the boiled method at their school on December 7, 2021. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Over the years, there have been notable changes in pedagogy. There has been a departure from regurgitating factual knowledge to the application of concepts and skills. And with the rapid evolution of life informed by technology, changing needs et cetera, the modern learner is wired differently. And as such, teaching methods have had to evolve too. Interactive learning and learner centeredness have taken precedence over individualised and teacher centeredness. Learners’ needs, interests and preferences hugely inform pedagogy like never before.

This is an education reform that provides an entirely different approach to teaching and learning. The instructor strives to meet the learner at their point of need/interest/preference. The teacher, therefore, ought to have a good understanding of their student, and an understanding to the latest trends and fads. The teacher ought to know what makes the learner tick. Nothing is more effective.

But why, exactly, should there be a shift to these modern models of teaching and learning? In recent years, the scope of knowledge in the field of science and technology has dramatically increased, and human’s ability to adapt to new knowledge in science and technology has also increased. So, there is an immense need for innovative and creative minds to explore unknown and unrevealed areas of different fields. To cope with the modern world and the information-driven era of technology, adopting modern ways are the only means to survive. So, the students should be prepared and equipped to tackle the challenges of the 21st century, which is a technology-driven era, and which requires creative and innovative minds for the progress of individuals, societies, and nations.

Some of these modern teaching methods include:

Collaborative Learning

Earlier, when students were asked to revise the topic or syllabus during an examination or regular days, they used to revise the syllabus in isolation or at home. This practice was widespread in traditional teaching methods. To deal with this issue or provide a more useful platform for students, schools are producing collaborative learning. In this modern teaching method, teachers form a group of students where they can solve their problems, debates on topics, and clear their queries. This helps in developing social skills and allows students to not only understand the subject faster, but more effectively.

Learners learn to tolerate others, develop skills to listen to others and how to work in a team. They will be able to meet different personalities and can get a genuine review of their work. Students present their ideas and expect a response when they are in group learning. It allows them to exchange their creativity and gain more knowledge. In return, it helps them to learn to face healthy criticism and cross-questions. So, school management should choose to take up a collaborative method of teaching to tutor their students.

 Spaced Learning

In this method, teachers repeat a lesson multiple times, until the students understand entirely. However, the teacher repeats the course with two 10-minute spaces (break) in-between the lessons. The gap is meant to refresh the mind by doing physical activities or mindfulness techniques which prepare them for the next session of the same lesson. This method gives the students intervals to inherit the knowledge and create connections between learnings. Before moving forward to another chapter, this method prepares the students with basics. It truly defines a proverb that a healthy mind is in a healthy body. So, the physical state of students should be sufficient to the growth of mental state which is crucial to gain knowledge. Spaced learning has a scope to reduce obesity in school-going children which can be seen more nowadays. It improves both the mental and physical health of a student.

Flipped Classroom

Flipped Classroom is a well-known term in pedagogy and one of the very vital modern teaching methods that has been in use recently, where the teaching procedure takes place in a flipped manner. As unlike traditional ways, students study new material or content at home by themselves and practice the same at school. The method is the reverse of providing content at school and asks students to rework on it or practice it at home. The students practice this method at home by watching a video tutorial, searching online, or work on the content usually shared by the teacher. They do not need to complete the homework at home. Instead, they end it at school. Through the practice of Flipped Classroom, students get enough time to grasp the topic, unlike at school where they get only a few minutes to understand the content. If necessary, they can work more on one issue.


Curiosity pushes the learner to learn new and more always. It drives the learners to learn and memorise large spaces of the text that they will either miss or forget easily. Through their curiosity, students get motivated to explore the subjects they are interested in. Teaching students to do research on their own and find results helps them to be self-dependent and gives them a deep understanding of the content. A teacher should allow the students to bring innovative ideas and work on it for the development of their brain and ability to work alone. This modern teaching method plays a significant role in learners’ ability to pursue their own learning. The teacher’s role here is ensuring that they have created sufficient curiosity in the learner, enough to have them drive their own exploration of concepts, and search for new knowledge.

It is a well-known fact that children love games whether it is online games or playing games in the field. Teaching through games is one of the essential modern teaching methods that has been in use under modern teaching methods. The significance of Gamification in teaching has mostly been seen in the elementary and preschool systems. Learning through playing games will not even be realized by students. It motivated students as well and proved effective not only to the students of preschool but of any age. The responsibility of teaching through Gamification is of teachers as they should plan or design projects that will be suitable for the students of their respective age.

VAK teaching

They should incorporate attractive measures to connect the students for a longer time and keep their interest alive. Teachers can organize online quizzes, puzzles, or brain games. This modern teaching method is a fun learning method to teach. VAK is a modern teaching method where the learner is divided into three categories: Visual, Audio, and kinesthetic (movement). The teacher must know which category their students relate to. In VAK, V means visual - seeing the data, A means Audio - gathering information by hearing the data, and K means Kinesthetic - feeling the data. A teacher should keep the category of students in mind while teaching because some students catch the information by seeing, by hearing or by feeling. So, they should present the same material in diverse ways.

The VAK teaching method was introduced in the 1920s to help children with dyslexia. However, its impact is more effective in the modern era.

In the time of the internet, watching and learning through videos has become a popular new medium of teaching. Students grasp fast when they see, hear, or feel instead of reading the material. And, a learner is not limited to any one of the media as they can use even all three mediums of instruction.

Crossover Learning

The not-so-common modern teaching method uses both formal and informal teaching and learning environments. Crossover learning effectively engages learners and provides authentic yet innovative results. A formal setting is a traditional setting, i.e. Classroom to provide education. While, the informal environment of teaching is museums, seminars, and after-school places. Schools and colleges teach with content, study material, and use every day experiences to explore new knowledge. On the other hand, informal learning generates curiosity, interest, and increases understanding by asking questions to their teachers. Teachers should introduce new queries or questions in the formal setting and answers for which students should try to find in informal settings such as by exploring that question on their museum visit. The learners can take notes or collect pictures as their data and produce them as the information once they are back in the classroom. They can share collected information with other classmates and can discuss it for better results.

It is the duty of a teacher to take a step towards accepting modern methods of teaching. To provide sound education, there should be a neat congruence of a skilled teacher and innovative ways of teaching. So that students will be ready with not only theoretical knowledge but also with practical experience of subjects to face the world and compete for opportunities. The inclusion of modern teaching methods currently is necessary as it opposes the idea of traditional forms of repetition and memorization of the syllabus to educate students. To develop communication skills, decision-making skills, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking ability, modern teaching methods are best suited.