Current Teaching-Learning Approaches


The emergence of various teaching approaches aiming at how students should learn emerges due to the change of teaching focus from teacher-centered instruction to student-centered one, were claimed to be applicable to various subject-matters such as Constructivist Approach, Contextual Approach, Quantum Teaching and Learning, Cooperative Learning, and various instructional approaches and models.

Constructivist Approach

The idea that learning is not a process of accumulating facts or developing skills, but a process where a child actively constructs understanding based on his/her experiences (Piaget) inspires constructivist to adopt it as an approach which is much used in the teaching of science.

The difference between Constructivist Approach and Objectivist (traditional) Approach is that Objectivist Approach emphasizes knowledge as an object, while Constructivist Approach thinking process to give meanings. Some characteristics of Constructivist Approach (CA) as compared with Objective Approach (OA) (Brooks and Brooks, 1999: 17) are: 1) in OA curriculum is presented part to whole, with emphasis on basic skills. In CA curriculum is presented whole to part with emphasis on big concepts, 2) in OA strict adherence to fixed curriculum is highly valued; while in CA pursuit of questions is highly valued, 3) curriculum activities in OA rely heavily on textbooks and workbooks but CA curriculum activities rely heavily on primary sources of data and manipulative materials, 4) students  in OA are viewed as “blank slates” onto which information is etched by teacher while in CA students are viewed as thinkers with emerging theories about the world, 5) in OA teachers generally behave in a didactic manner, disseminating information to students and In CA teachers generally behave in an interactive manner, mediating the environment for students, 6) while teachers in OA seek the correct answer to validate student learning, in CA seek the students’ points of view in order to understand students’ present conception for use in subsequent lessons,7) in OA assessment of student learning is viewed as separate from teaching and almost entirely through testing but in CA assessment of student learning is interwoven with teaching and occurs through teacher observations of students at and through student exhibitions and portfolios, 8) students primarily work alone in OA, but they work in groups in CA.

A model of teaching and learning process using Constructivist principles is 6E’s cycle (Johnston, 2001), namely: End, which means the target or objective of the learning. Engagement, i.e. involving students in the teaching-learning activities. Here the teacher may ask questions, present a problem, show contradicting events, or challenge commons beliefs. Exploration; which means researching an object, situation, or event; making relationship; finding patterns; identifying variables; or questioning an event. Explanation, namely the teacher asks students to explain the object, situation, or event which has just been observed of experienced. Then, the teacher gives scientific explanation.

Elaboration, which means to generalize from the concept, process, or skill being learned. This is continued with an experiment to apply, widen, or deepen those concept, process, or skill. Evaluation, i.e. the teacher conducts informal assessment by observing the teaching learning process from the beginning of the activities, and formal assessment of students’ achievement after elaboration step. This model is called a cycle because after the 6th step the process may be continued from the 1st step again.

Contextual Approach

Contextual Approach or Contextual Teaching and Learning (CTL) claims to be based on Constructivist Approach. This approach emphasizes teacher’s effort to relate teaching to students’ environments, and to relate students’ knowledge to its application in real life. Some characteristics to be developed in Contextual Approach (Suyanto and Latief, 2002) are emphasizing the importance of problem solving, acknowledging the need to conduct learning activities in various contexts, such as home, society, and work place. Guiding learning toward independent study, emphasizing learning on various contexts of students’ lives, encouraging students to learn from peers and group work, and using authentic/process assessment.

The elements of Contextual Approach are: 1) constructivism, which emphasizes the activation of learner’s background knowledge and reflection on student learning, 2) questioning, as a strategy to encourage, guide, and assess student learning, 3) inquiry, as an activity which consists of observing, questioning, hypothesizing, data gathering and drawing conclusion, 4) learning community, which suggests that learning outcomes be obtained through cooperation and learning with each other, 5) modeling, which is provided by the teacher or in cooperation with students, 6) reflection, which is done to review/reinforce what has been learned, 7) authentic assessment, as a process evaluation which is emphasized in this approach.  This approach can be used in learning procedure.

Quantum Teaching and Learning

Quantum Teaching and Learning (Degeng, 2001; DePorter, et al. 1999) is defined as interactions that transform energy into radiance, and Quantum the orchestration of the variety of the interactions that exist in and around the moment of learning. Quantum Teaching and Learning (QTL) also claims to be based on Approach. QTL has similarities with Suggestopedia. Suggestopedia focuses on language teaching, while QTL focuses on teaching and learning in general. QTL emphasizes efforts to create enjoyable learning activities to reach students’ welfare. QTL suggests that teacher enter students’ world and bring teacher’s world. The deeper the teacher enters the students’ world, the more influence can he/she give to students.

In the teaching and learning process, QTL attempts to create enjoyable learning atmosphere by growing student motivation to learn, developing sympathy and mutual understanding, creating cheerfulness and astonishment during the learning encouraging students to take a risk (trial) in learning, developing sense of belonging showing good models.

To build a strong foundation for learning through: 1) determining shared goals between teacher and students, 2) constructing shared principles and values, 3) growing self-confidence in teacher as well as students, 4)  making shared agreement, policy, procedure, and regulation for teaching and learning process, 5) establishing partnership in learning.

To arrange enjoyable learning environment by: 1) rearranging classroom/school environment (physical and non-physical) using attractive media (e.g. demonstration, OHP, Power-point), 2) arranging tables and chairs, so that students are comfortable in learning, 3) arranging plants (e.g. flowers), animals (e.g. fish in an aquarium), and classroom (so that it feels fresh), 4) using music as a background of teaching and learning process.

To orchestrate a dynamic teaching and learning process by: 1) uniting our world and student’s world, 2) adjusting learning to learner characteristics, 3) combining success, failure, and risk, 4) using the steps of enrolling/motivating, experiencing, labeling/naming, demonstrating, reviewing, and celebrating, 5) using metaphor, analogy, or suggestion.

The teaching- learning using model using QTL is as abbreviated as EEL Dr. C, namely: Enroll, ie. create a situation close to students’ real life, so that they can feel curious. Experience, i.e. create learning experience to which all students can be involved. Label, i.e. give name or key words to the topic being taught. Demonstrate, i.e. give chance for the students to show their knowledge or ability. Review, i.e. lead the students to review the lesson so that they know that they know. Celebrate, i.e. acknowledge the task completion, student participation, and acquisition of the new skill and knowledge.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning method (Slavin, 1995) hold the idea that students should

work together to learn and are responsible for their teammates’ learning as well as their own. Cooperative learning claims that group work is better than individual competition. In practice, cooperative learning in class is conducted in small groups.

Cooperative learning has five basic elements (Johnson, Johnson, and Holubec, Holt, 1993 :5). First, there should be positive interdependence among the group members. The students should perceive the principle of “sink or swim together”. If one fails, all fail. Therefore, all group members work for the benefit of him-/herself and also for the group. Second, there should be individual and group accountability. The group should be accountable for reaching its goal, and each member should contribute his/her share for the task (no-one is allowed to “hitch-hike” on others). Third, there is a face-to face interaction to promote to promote the shared success. They should help, support, encourage, and praise each other’s learning efforts. Fourth, there are interpersonal and small group skills. Besides learning academic tasks, the group members also learn appropriate communication, leadership, trust, decision making, and conflict management skills. Fifth, there is group processing. The group is given time and procedure to assess what worked and what did not, what should be maintained and what should be changed so that there is a continuous improvement.

Examples of cooperative learning models are Student Teams-Achievement

Divions (STAD)[1], Teams-Games-Tournaments (TGT), Group Investigation[2], Group Discussion, Group Project, Jigsaw[3], Jigsaw II[4], Numbered Heads Together, or Think-Pair[5]. The following are some examples, taken from Slavin (1995), and Frazee and Rudnitski (1995).


PAKEM stands for Pembelajaran yang Aktif Kreatif Efektif, dan Menyenangkan (active, creative, effective, and joyful learning), for both teacher and students. This is one of the learning models developed for Indonesian context. The characteristics of Teacher-active are: 1) to monitor students learning activities, 2) to give feedback , 3) to ask challenging questions, 4) to question students’ ideas.  Student-active: 1) asking questions, 2) expressing ideas, 3) questioning others’ ideas.  Teacher-creative: 1) developing variety of activities, 2) making simple learning media. Student-creative: 1) designing/making something , 2) writing/composing. Teacher-effective is achieving teaching/learning objectives. Student-effective is mastering required competence. Joyful is teacher should not make students afraid of making mistakes or being laughed at. Students are encouraged to try/make something, ask questions, express ideas or question others’ ideas

PAKEM should be supported by teacher’s attitudes which are open-minded

listening to students’ opinions, respecting students’ opinions, giving feedback, encouraging, growing self-confidence, letting students try before assisting, not mocking, making habits for students to listen to others, and tolerating errors and encouraging correction.

PAKEM creates classroom environment conducive for learning such as containing various learning sources, books, real objects, media, and students’ works, making learning materials and equipment available, making tables and chairs comfortable, and having reading corner. Recently, the acronym P AKEM has become P AIKEM, with the addition of I for


TEFL in 2004 Curriculum in Indonesia

The problems of TEFL in Indonesia are: (a) SMA graduates hardly speak and write in Englih, (b) good mastery of English is helped by attending private courses, (c) teachers rely to much on textbook, and (d) teachers focus too much on linguistic features.

The teaching of English in secondary schools in Indonesia in 2004 Curriculum uses the principles/characteristics that it adopts CLT with Discourse Approach (Celce-Murcia, Dornyei, and Thurrell, 1995). This approach puts discourse competence as the ultimate goal, which is supported by socio-cultural competence, linguistic competence, actional competence, and supported by strategic competence. Consequently, the target of English competence of secondary school students in Indonesia is an ability to produce various interpersonal, transactional, and functional text types (genres), such  narration, description, procedure, report, recount, news item, exposition, explanation, discussion, review, anecdote, and spoof.

Besides English is considered as a means for self development, obtaining knowledge, and global communication, the teaching procedure takes three-phase technique, namely, pre-activities, main activities, and post activities and all the materials in the standard of contents (SK-KD) should be taught. They include interpersonal, transactional, and functional text types. The teaching materials should also be from various subject-matters, and cover local, national, regional, and international areas.

Another principles are that the teaching focus should be on the skills of: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. The teaching approach should be contextualized to real-life of students; students are required to find other examples from their surrounding, in addition to the examples provided by the teacher/textbook.

There should be a guide for constructing texts, i.e. in determining the social function, text/meaning structure, and linguistic features of the texts. The teaching-learning target is students’ ability to produce oral and written texts and there should be interactive activities between teacher and student, among students.

While teaching-learning activities include face-to-face, structured exercises, and independent activities, activities should develop life skills: personal, social, academic, and vocational skills. Activities should aim at: (a) developing positive attitudes to diversity (kebhinekaan), and (b) respecting and appreciating local, national, regional, and international cultural values and they should focus on students and develop their initiative, creativity, critical thinking, and independent learning.

The Department of National Education has launched 4 standards for TEFL in Indonesia, namely: Standard of Contents, Standard of Outcomes, Standard of Learning Process, and Standard of Assessment. These are the minimum standards to be achieved.


Fachurrazy. 2010. Teaching English as Foreign Language for Teachers in Indonesia. The State University of Malang.

Newton, A. Covell. 1984. Current Trends in Language Teaching. A TEFL Anthology.

Selected Articles from The English Teaching Forum. English Language

Program Division Educational and Culture Affairs. US Information Agency. Washington D.C. 20547.









[1] Students are assigned to four-member learning teams that are mixed in performance level, gender, and ethnicity. The teacher presents a lesson, and then students work within teams to make sure all team members have mastered the lesson. Then, all students individual quizzes on the material, at which time they may not help one another. Students’ quiz scores are compared to their own past averages, and points are awarded to team based on the degree to which students meet or exceed their own earlier performances. These points are then added to form team scores, and teams that meet certain criteria may earn certificates or other rewards.

[2] Groups are formed according to common interest in a topic. Students plan research (formulating research question, collecting data, writing report), divide learning assignments among members, synthesize/summarize findings, and present the findings to the entire class.

[3] Students are assigned to six-member teams to work on academic material that has been divided into sections. Each member reads a section; then members of different teams meet to become experts. Students return to groups and teach other members about their ions. Students must listen to their team-mates to learn other sections.

[4] Students work in four-/five-member teams as in STAD. Rather than being assigned specific parts, students read a common narrative (e.g. a chapter). Students also receive a topic on which to become an expert. Learners with the same topics meet together as in Jigsaw, and then they teach the material to their original group. Students take individual quizzes.

[5] Students are given a task (e.g. how to solve a traffic jam) and work individually. Then, students form pairs, and discuss their ideas. After that, each pair shares the results of their discussion with the whole class. In practice, a teacher may modify a model, combine two or more models, or even e his/her own cooperative learning model.

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