Monday, July 2, 2012

Inductive and Deductive Instruction

Two very distinct and opposing instructional approaches are inductive and deductive. Both approaches can offer certain advantages, but the biggest difference is the role of the teacher

In a deductive classroom, the teacher conducts lessons by introducing and explaining concepts to students, and then expecting students to complete tasks to practice the concepts; this approach is very teacher-centered. 

Conversely, inductive instruction is a much more student-centered approach and makes use of a strategy known as ‘noticing’. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between inductive and deductive instruction, and find out how noticing can be used in the language classroom to better facilitate student learning.


What is deductive instruction?

A deductive approach to instruction is a more teacher-centered approach. This means that the teacher gives the students a new concept, explains it, and then has the students practice using the concept. For example, when teaching a new grammar concept, the teacher will introduce the concept, explain the rules related to its use, and finally the students will practice using the concept in a variety of different ways.
According to Bob Adamson, The deductive method is often criticized because: 
a) it teaches grammar in an isolated way; 
b ) little attention is paid to meaning; 
c) practice is often mechanical.

This method can, however, be a viable option in certain situations; for example, when dealing with highly motivated students, teaching a particularly difficult concept, or for preparing students to write exams.

What is inductive instruction?

In contrast with the deductive method, inductive instruction makes use of student “noticing”. Instead of explaining a given concept and following this explanation with examples, the teacher presents students with many examples showing how the concept is used. The intent is for students to “notice”, by way of the examples, how the concept works.
Using the grammar situation from above, the teacher would present the students with a variety of examples for a given concept without giving any preamble about how the concept is used. As students see how the concept is used, it is hoped that they will notice how the concept is to be used and determine the grammar rule. As a conclusion to the activity, the teacher can ask the students to explain the grammar rule as a final check that they understand the concept.

Source: lenkaBilash, 2009, Inductive and Deductive Instruction [Online], Available from:

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