How have teaching styles evolved? This is a question teachers are asked, and frequently ask themselves, as they embark on their careers, and occasionally pause along the way to reflect on job performance. To understand the differences in teaching styles, it’s helpful to know where the modern concept of classifying teaching methods originated.

teaching school kidsThe late Anthony F. Grasha, a noted professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati, is credited with developing the classic five teaching styles. A follower of psychiatrist Carl Jung, Grasha began studying the dynamics of the relationship between teachers and learning in college classrooms. His groundbreaking book, “Teaching with Style,” was written both as a guide for teachers and as a tool to help colleagues, administrators and students systematically evaluate an instructor’s effectiveness in the classroom.

Grasha understood that schools must use a consistent, formal approach in evaluating a teacher’s classroom performance. He recognized that any system designed to help teachers improve their instructional skills requires a simple classification system. He developed a teaching style inventory that has since been adopted and modified by followers.

  • Expert: Similar to a coach, experts share knowledge, demonstrate their expertise, advise students and provide feedback to improve understanding and promote learning.
  • Formal authority: Authoritative teachers incorporate the traditional lecture format and share many of the same characteristics as experts, but with less student interaction.
  • Personal model: Incorporates blended teaching styles that match the best techniques with the appropriate learning scenarios and students in an adaptive format.
  • Facilitator: Designs participatory learning activities and manages classroom projects while providing information and offering feedback to facilitate critical thinking.
  • Delegator: Organizes group learning, observes students, provides consultation, and promotes interaction between groups and among individuals to achieve learning objectives.

Although he developed specific teaching styles, Grasha warned against boxing teachers into a single category. Instead, he advocated that teachers play multiple roles in the classroom. He believed most teachers possess some combination of all or most of the classic teaching styles.