Volume:2, Issue: 3

Nov. 1, 2010

Teaching Models: From Dogmatic Teaching to a Personalized-Strategic Model
Uman, Arkadiy I. [about] , Fedorova, Мarina А. [about]

DESCRIPTORS: teaching process, teaching models, reproduction model, explanatory model, informational model, technological mode, student-centered model, personalizedategic model.
SYNOPSIS: the authors introduce and characterize specific features of teaching processes in various historic periods. They introduce a number of different teaching models and show how they were and can be used in practice.


Teaching Models:
From Dogmatic Teaching to a Personalizedategic Model
An Introduction

This article is an attempt to introduce a new approach to researching teaching with the help of teaching models.  Such an approach allows to revise the field of practical teaching and to come to some general conclusions both for a certain period of time and for the whole period since didactics became an independent science.

The term “model” as explained in the Big Encyclopedic Dictionary, is defined as “any image, analogy of the object, process or a subject that can be used as either their substitute or their representative” [1, p.822]. Following this definition, one can say that a teaching model is a summarized teaching image that presents a general picture of the educational reality, depicting its structure and functions at a given moment.  A teaching model as a theoretical concept can be defined with the help of didactic categories. It also allows to present a «level of sophistication» of the teaching theory in general and in particlular, and it could be used as the most wide basis for the further research in the field. Historically, no teaching model remains stable, it moves on together with the social and school development; and what is more, it allows to review and measure a teaching process at any given moment.  It also allows to predict the future changes which are based on the tendencies of development of educational theory and practice. This by itself might give some new insights into the future development of the field.

Models of the teaching process, also commonly called “teaching models,” make up key components in Russian didactics.  In general terms, teaching models describe the interaction between the main didactic elements: teacher’s activity (teaching), students’ activity (learning), and a third element which influences teacher/student interaction.  An analysis of the evolution of teaching models allows us to work out highly effective approaches to modern education in general.

Initial theoretical concepts of the teaching process and its structure occurred with the emergence of didactics as a science.  These general concepts reflected a double-sided nature of teaching made up of two structural components, or “sides”: (1) teachers’ activities, and (2) students’ activities.  In the early days, interrelated teacher/student activity was often summarized simply as “a teacher teaches, and students study” [2, p.165].  Of course, over time, descriptions of the structure of teaching processes have changed.

Reproduction model

The first education model, known as the dogmatic teaching or reproduction model  required students to be active while their teacher remained passive.  The famous Russian researcher Mikhail N. Skatkin offered a precise description of the dogmatic model, “What is introduced to the students at “the entrance level”? – Dogmatic formulas.  How can we describe students’ learning? – Mostly learning by rote.  What is the result? – Word-for-word reproduction. What is trained? – Memory.  Cramming made students bored and they loathed studying” [7, p.112].  Similarly, noted 19th century Russian educator Konstantin Ushinsky, characterized the teaching process of that period by stating, “Scholastic schools burdened their students with all the responsibilities for their studies, giving a teacher a ferule with which he could rush the lazy ones” [8, p. 256].

As understandings in teaching and learning evolved throughout the 20th century, many teachers began to distance themselves from those dogmatic patterns, and to make their teaching more effective by improving learning activities.  For example, in addition to teacher-centered lecture, students were encouraged to retell textual information in their own words.  Although this move toward more student-centered activities was an improvement on traditional dogmatic processes, teachers soon found that simply facilitating students’ retelling of textual knowledge was an inadequate approach to affecting meaningful change in dogmatic patterns.  Clearly, dogmatic education was based on memorization, while contextualized retelling of information required that students understand what they were reading.  Transition from memorization to analysis and synthesis requires a great leap in the development of the child’s mind, and successful enrichment and maturation is extremely difficult to achieve without the careful, personalized help of a skilled teacher.  During this time, it became apparent to many effective teachers that more progress toward student-centered activities was needed.  Skatkin reported, “As a result, a second, more effective, teaching process appeared.  At first, the two teaching models coexisted, but as the new type became more widespread, teachers strove to overcome dogmatism by explaining subject matter in ways that students understood it before being asked to memorize it [7, 115].

This new strategy was later called the explanatory model or the explanatory-demonstrational model.  As a result of the increasing popularity of the explanatory model, teachers’ activities improved, particularly in terms of their explanation, demonstration, and annotation of subject matter.  On the other hand, the transition from learning by rote memorization to deep and meaningful understanding became necessary and realizable.  This development led to a crisis of sorts relating to teachers’ workloads and students’ activities.  Dogmatic word-for-word retelling of subject matter was disappearing from the classroom, but it was clear at this early stage, this approach could not be completely replaced by comprehension-based retelling of subject matter.  K.D. Ushinsky described this situation the following way, “At this new school teachers were overloaded with their work, and they had to stimulate children’s development without demanding any efforts on the part of the children” [8, p.256]. 

In fact, understanding is one of the main structural components of learning, but it is not enough for mastering a subject matter or a skill (B. Bloom). Teachers began to realize that in addition to detailed explanation of subject matter, it was necessary to teach students to consolidate information and apply knowledge to real life.  This realization prompted the use of different educational tasks to stimulate students’ mental and practical activity.  Skatkin described this evolving teaching process accordingly:

What is given to students? – Not only facts… but also explanations, proofs, comments… What do students do? – They try to understand both facts and explanations… In addition to memory, such studies develop analyzing and synthesizing.  Retelling also undergoes serious changes.  Not only word-for-word reproduction but also retelling texts in one’s own words has become important.  A new stage appears in the teaching process, it is knowledge application stage. Much attention is given to independent educational tasks: sums, exercises, summaries, graphic works, etc… What does such teaching develop? – Not only memory but also thinking [5, p.115-116].

As a result of this understanding, the progressive explanation/demonstration model further evolved into a reproduction model which can be characterized by the formula – a teacher delivers a certain amount of knowledge and information to students, and they reproduce it. All the above-mentioned types of teaching were gradually developing but within the frames of a reproduction model.

Informational model

The technological revolution resulted in yet another teaching model which was born in the 1970s.  This one, the informational model, reflected the information processes of this period and had three components.  As information flow increased, even doubling in subsequent decades, it became apparent it would have to be stored, assimilated, processed, and communicated to younger generations.  Educational technology experts rightfully presupposed that this information flow had to be converted into educational contexts.  Thus, curriculum became the third structural component in the informational model of the teaching process. Researchers V.V. Kraevsky and I.Y. Lerner pointed out that “the essential elements of teaching consist of instructing, learning and the curriculum. Education is the interaction of these three components” [2, p.155].  Kraevsky and Lerner continued by describing this interaction in the following way, “A teacher organizes learning activities and presents some subject matter which is part of the curriculum or social experience.  The teacher uses the curriculum as the means of interaction with students.  Students receive their teacher’s signals, operate with the curriculum, interact with it and study it” [2, p.155].  The main idea here is that a teacher delivers the information to his students, and students study it.  This statement reflects the theoretical concepts of the teaching process and its structure that appeared in the 1970s.

So what is reflected in the statement?  Primarily, there are two important ideas. First, a teacher should deliver certain knowledge and, second, the students’ job is to learn it.  These two are closely connected and based on the principle of information systems’ operation: a transmitter sends information, and a receiver gets it.  This model does not fully reflect the essence of the teaching process; it just outlines the idea that “the older generation passes its social experience on to the younger ones.”

Let us now perform a deeper examination of teaching process theory.  The first part of the above mentioned statement says that a teacher delivers the information to his students, but this is not completely accurate.  A teacher cannot deliver a bit of information to his students as one would a physical object.  When a physical object is delivered from one party to another, the transfer deals primarily with the object’s form, not its content.  Curriculum cannot be transferred in this capacity, and thus, students cannot simply receive it from their teacher.  Accordingly, curriculum cannot be the third structural element of the teaching process.  So the question remains, what is the third element?  What is its essence?  If we assume this model to be the internal nature of the teaching process, we may agree that it does not work in any given real school situation.  More so, any real teaching process functions according to principles that are not reflected in this model.

The Nature of Teacher/Student Interaction

In this section, we will try to describe the nature of teacher/student interaction in any teaching process and analyze possible forms of educational content.  The first form is a curriculum framework.  A curriculum framework splits educational content into school subjects, which are commonly represented in Russia as three distinct components of the overall curriculum: federally approved, regionally based, and school based subject matter. Within each disciplinary subject, content is further specified into course syllabi.  Each school subject at each developmental level has a syllabus or plan that states exactly what students should learn.  The syllabus is reflected in various textbooks and learning materials (workbooks, teacher’s manuals, readers, and so on).  The next form of the educational content is a teacher’s lesson plan or a script for a class, which details the teacher’s system of educational tasks.  These tasks are considered forms of the educational content or information students should learn during a lesson.  A teacher assigns tasks, and students learn the educational content while fulfilling these tasks.  This new understanding brought about the progressive idea that educational tasks make up the third element in the structure of the teaching process, and as such, ushered in a philosophical change regarding teachers’ perceptions of the inner nature of the teaching process: teachers’ activities, students’ activities, and educational tasks are main structural components of teaching.

Technological model

This new understanding of teaching process began taking shape in the 1980s, when pedagogical and teaching technologies began gaining recognition.  As a result, the new teaching model was based on technology and technological understanding.  This new model broadened the scope of learning, and included different actions performed by teachers and students concerning emerging educational tasks.  As mentioned previously, before a given lesson begins, teachers develop their lesson plans.  A lesson plan is a future teaching process presented in the form of organized tasks and related exercises that the teacher hopes to complete with students.  Development of an effective lesson plan requires a teacher’s careful predictions and expectations of students’ activities and the ways of carrying out the tasks.  Teachers then implement the plans in real class situations.  Many accomplish this by dividing their lessons into separate actions (of students and their own) and tasks to be completed.  Then, they initiate actions by giving students instructions.  In many teaching models, each lesson action begins with an instruction.

Of course, students’ actions and activities are determined by the teacher’s lesson plan, which has likely been developed with several factors in mind, including students’ knowledge level, technological skill level, situational circumstances, timeframe, goals and objectives, and other factors.  Once a lesson begins, the teacher facilitates students’ actions, first by presenting subject matter, related materials, certain skills, and other lesson components.  Then each student chooses her/his own course of action, which may be different from each of her/his classmates, but hopefully brings about a degree of genuine concentration on each assigned task.  Next, students interact or “accept” the educational tasks, and begin performing them to meet the teacher’s clearly outlined specifications and expectations.  Here, the objective is not to simply complete a given task, but to do so with positive results and/or a learned skill set or knowledge set.  In a context of the technological model, one could imagine that students might have a variety of innovative technologies (computer, smart board, digital camera, among others) at their disposal in order to complete tasks and present what they have learned.  So, in summary, the teacher asks students to perform an educational task.  Students decide to do this task, accept it, carry it out with some form of innovative technology, and receive positive results.
The technological approach allowed teachers to analyze students’ activities in a more didactic manner, and identified four distinct and successive actions: (1) a student moves toward an educational task (his/her activity is aimed at accomplishing this task), (2) the task becomes part of students’ activities, (3) different mental and practical actions are performed during the task, and (4) the result is checked and corrected by the teacher if necessary.  These actions reflect teacher/student interaction in the teaching process; this interaction is typical of every teaching act, it is universal. According to the technological model, the result of teaching is that all students study the curriculum well or in other words, every student can accomplish educational tasks.

But the above mentioned, though it sounds logical in theory, turns out to be very different in reality, where students clearly demonstrate very different levels of mastering the curriculum and developing required skills. Technologies cannot be blamed for this, as they create equal opportunities for all students to achieve good results. This means that the success of the teaching process depends not only on objective factors (e.g., technologies) but also on many subjective ones.  A new approach to teaching was born in 1990s as an attempt to address this problem, and it gave birth to a new teaching model which was called student-centered

The student-centered model emerged as a subjectively oriented approach based on each student’s skills and abilities, and various ways of presenting educational content and tasks.  I.S. Yakimanskaya asserted that “a student-centered educational process can be built only if the didactic features adhere to the principle of subjectivity” [9, p.28].  For example, teaching material and ways of presenting given educational content should deal with and transform students’ personal experience and give them some choices in their completion of educational tasks. 

In the technological model, content was merely input into various educational tasks, but in the student-centered model, content and educational tasks are blended and differentiated with each student’s skills and abilities in mind.  For example, if a teacher wants his students to express their subjective, personal attitudes toward a certain text, it is important he/she take into consideration the type of information given in the text (reference, description of someone’s experience, stimulus for self-education, etc.).  Thus, during the planning phase, the teacher must pay attention to the type of information and the level of knowledge required.  Teachers should include tasks that allow students to choose the types and the forms of learning materials (verbal, graphic, symbolic), as well as problem-solving tasks and creative tasks.

The teacher then may develop a series of engaging tasks, including different types of exercises from which students may choose based on personal experience, needs, interests, and knowledge or ability level.  In comparison to the technological model, the student-centered model is less rigid, more flexible, more diverse, and it takes more of each student’s personal experiences into consideration.  The student-centered model may then be summarized as follows: a teacher gives students the opportunity to choose a task from a spectrum.  Every student examines the spectrum of tasks, chooses a task and accomplishes it.  In this case students master the educational content that has some personal meaning for each of them.

Further realization of the student-centered model requires specific circumstances and a deliberate learning environment.  According to Serikov, learning in the student-centered model is highly situational, thus educational situations are “the basis of learner-centered education [6, p.19].  Creating a learning situation in the student-centered educational process requires three didactic components: (1) the form of content presentation, (2) the form of teacher-student interaction, and (3) circumstances that are particular to each learning situation.  In other words, an educational situation includes the triad “task – dialogue – game” which is “the basic technological complex of the learner-centered education” [6, p.19]. Thus, we can work out the verbal formula of the educational process mechanism: A teacher creates an educational situation including a spectrum of educational tasks, involves students in the situation, and stimulates students’ learning.  In student-centered learning, students get involved in the educational situation and choose an educational task according to their personal experience.  If students accomplish tasks, they master the educational content as it too becomes part of their personal experience.  But again, this model cannot provide necessary conditions for a complete personal development of the students.

Personality-developing model

Personality development is possible only when a student’s level of knowledge and skills cannot meet the requirements of a given educational situation.  When this occurs, a student may feel the need to overcome such a learning inadequacy, and a cognitive task emerges, requiring the student’s motivation and activity.  In the student’s actions to discover and learn something new, her/his motivation is based on her/his interest in solving the task.  Thus, cognitive tasks affect not only students’ actions but also their motives and needs. As observed by Ivanova and Osmolovskaya, “The uncertainty caused by cognitive tasks makes students exercise introspection and stimulates their self-reflection” [3, p. 239].  Students analyze their own activities and themselves, and such self-reflection is a primary contributor to personal development.  At the same time the teaching process aims at achieving students’ personal development.  A key feature of this personality-developing model is that it is built in two distinct dimensions (outer and inner) of the educational space.  The outer dimension reflects the teaching process organized by the teacher, and consists of such structural elements as teachers’ activities, students’ activities, educational situations, cognitive tasks, educational tasks, and educational content.  The inner dimension is the inner learning process, and its interconnected structural elements consist of students’ activities, personal experience, and self-reflections.   

It is necessary to understand how these elements function in any teaching process.  A teacher creates an educational situation including some cognitive contradictions and introduces it to students.  Students then use their personal experiences to investigate and manipulate the situation.  Each student then assesses the educational situation in her/his own way depending on self-reflection.  Students then perform a cognitive task and control the results.  If the results are correct and the task is accomplished, students master the educational content.  In the process of self-reflection this educational content becomes part of students’ personal experience, thus promoting their development.  Their learning is improved, the teacher understands that the cognitive problem has been solved, and the teacher can plan a new cycle of the teaching process.

This model stimulates personal development, and helps students accumulate necessary skills and experience related to self-realization, self-organization, self-regulation, self-control, and self-management.  It also forms and develops personal values and has a strong effect on both intellect and motivation.  However, it does not guarantee that these impressive results can easily be extrapolated to different life situations and problems that students face while studying at school and later on, in their adult lives.

Personalizedategic Model

We should always remember that one of the main objectives of education is to prepare students for future adult life.  We can achieve this objective by teaching students to work out life strategies such as choosing future profession, choosing a college, or realizing personal plans.  Strategies are most likely successful when students know how to identify and utilize their personal traits, I-concepts, and real life situations, for the promotion of their success in the modern world.

In terms of real life experiences, we believe the teaching process should include a system of interconnected, complementary situations that stimulate students’ personal development and challenge them to design key life strategies.  Thus, the third element in the structure of the teaching process may now be identified as problem-situation space, which includes a range of problem situations and key life strategies, and presents each student opportunities to choose her/his own direction in this space.

This final model can be called the personalizedategic model, and the operation of the teaching process in this model is as follows: A teacher creates a special problem-situation space related to the real world and introduces it to students.  Students then get involved into this space, choosing certain problem situations according to their personal experience and self-reflection.  They then identify cognitive contradictions and formulate cognitive tasks, fulfill these tasks and control the results, and finally master a certain educational content.  In the process of self-reflection this educational content not only becomes part of students’ personal experience, but it also helps to develop important personal values and attitudes, necessary for self-determination and for continuing education. 

This final model of the teaching process is most closely related to real world situations.  It allows students to use their classroom achievements to influence their real life decision-making.  This model has great potential.  Situations and strategies can be developed and can become increasingly complex.  It is necessary to define regularities in the development of this model, which in its turn will allow us to stimulate the development of our students’ personalities.


Teaching process is a didactic phenomenon that clearly reflects both, real teaching and the specific features of interrelated activities of a teacher and his/her students. As time goes on, teaching process tends to change, develop, and modernize and can be described with the help of teaching models. Such models allow to characterize the specific features of teaching processes in various historic periods. We have made an attempt to “construct” different teaching models and describe the ways they work in practice. This can translate theory into practice and give teachers ways of improving teaching process in modern schools.


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  2. Dukhovny, I.M. Essays on Pedagogy – Moscow, 1951.
  3. Kraevsky, V.V. Soderzhanije Obrazovaniya: vperjod k proshlomu. – M.: Pedagogical Society of Russia, 2001.
  4. Kraevsky V.V., Lerner I.Y. Teaching Process and Its Regularities // Secondary School Didactics / Edited by M.N. Skatkin – the second edition – Moscow, 1982. Pp. 129-180.
  5. Learner-centered Education: A Reader for University Students / Compiled by E.O. Ivanova, I.M. Osmolovskaya. – Moscow, 2005.
  6. Serikov V.V. Learner-Centered Education // Pedagogy, 1994,  No 5. Pp. 16-21.
  7. Skatkin M.N. Teaching Process Improvement – Moscow, 1971.
  8. Ushinsky K.D. Essays on Pedagogy: In six volumes. Volume 6. – Moscow, 1988.
  9. Yakimanskaya I.S. Learner-Centered Education in a Modern School – Moscow, 1996.

1 Arkady I. Uman, [In Russian: Уман Аркадий Ильич], Professor, Ph.D. in Education, Chair, Department of General Pedagogy, Orel State University, Orel. Marina A. Fedorova [In Russian: Федорова Марина Анатольевна], Associate Professor, Ph.D. in Education, Department of General Pedagogy, Orel State University, Orel.

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