"Teaching Moves" to Achieve Learning Outcomes

“Teaching moves,” from Nilson’s “Teaching at its Best,” are strategies for achieving a particular learning outcome within a learning practice

On this page:

Suppose you want your students to be able to apply newly acquired knowledge (learning outcome). You may have them engage in a role play (learning practice) in which they have to choose and then use problem-solving strategies for situations specific to your topic (teaching move). These “teaching moves” are organized by learning outcome and can be matched with different learning practices as you see fit.

Remember

For you to do

  • Suggest prior knowledge to which students can link new and future information and knowledge.
  • Chunk knowledge into coherent groups, categories or themes.
  • Share devices to improve memory such as mnemonic patterns, maps, charts, comparisons, groupings, highlighting of key words or first letters, visual images and rhymes.
  • Point out parts, main ideas, patterns and relationships within sets of facts or information.

For students to do

  • Practice recalling and restating information.
  • Practice recognizing or identifying information.
  • Practice recalling and reproducing information.
  • Practice restating concept definitions and principles.

Understand

For you to do

  • Outline new or upcoming material in simple form.
  • Concept-map or mind-map new or upcoming material.
  • Explain with concrete examples, metaphors, questions or visual representations.

For students to do

  • Restate or paraphrase and summarize information or knowledge.
  • Describe or explain phenomena or concepts using words different from those used in the initial teaching.
  • Identify the correct meaning of concepts or terms.
  • Add details or explanations to basic content.
  • Relate new to previously learned content.
  • Construct visual representations of main ideas (mind or concept maps, tables, flowcharts, graphs, diagrams or pictures).

Apply

For you to do

  • Give multiple examples of a phenomenon that are meaningful to students.
  • Define the procedures for use, including the rules, principles and steps.
  • Provide the vocabulary and concepts related to procedures.
  • Explain steps as they are applied.
  • Define the contexts, problems, situations or goals for which given procedures are appropriate.
  • Explain the reasons that procedures work for different types of situations or goals.
  • Ensure students’ readiness by diagnosing and strengthening their command of related concepts, rules and decision-making skills.
  • Provide broad problem-solving methods and models.
  • Begin with simple, highly structured problems and gradually move to more complex, less structured ones.
  • Use questions to guide student thinking about problem components, goals and issues.
  • Give students guidance in observing and gathering information, asking appropriate questions and generating solutions.

For students to do

  • Generate new examples and nonexamples.
  • Paraphrase the procedures, principles, rules and steps for using or applying the material.
  • Practice applying the material to problems or situations to gain speed, consistency and ease in following the problem-solving steps.
  • Practice choosing the types of problem-solving strategies for different situations.
  • Solve simple, structured problems and then complex, unstructured ones.
  • Practice recognizing the correct use of procedures, principles, rules and steps with routine problems, then complex ones.
  • Demonstrate the correct use of procedures, principles, rules and steps with routine problems, then complex ones.

Analyze

For you to do

  • Point out the important and the unimportant features or ideas.
  • Point out examples and nonexamples of a concept, highlighting similarities and differences.
  • Give a wide range of examples, increasing their complexity over time.
  • Emphasize the relationships among concepts.
  • Explain different types of thinking strategies, including how to think open-mindedly, responsibly and accurately.
  • Emphasize persistence when answers are not apparent.
  • Ask students questions that require their persistence in discovering and analyzing data or information.
  • Encourage students to self-evaluate and reflect on their learning.
  • Ask questions that make students explain why they are doing what they are doing.
  • Explain and model how to conduct systematic inquiry, detect flaws and fallacies in thinking and adjust patterns of thinking.TEXT

For students to do

  • Classify concepts, examples or phenomena into correct categories.
  • Summarize different types of thinking strategies.
  • Use types of thinking strategies to analyze and evaluate their own thinking.
  • Practice choosing the best type of thinking strategy to use in different real-world situations and explaining why their choice is superior.
  • Detect and identify flaws and fallacies in thinking.
  • Identify and explain instances of open- and closed-mindedness.
  • Identify and explain instances of responsible versus irresponsible and accurate versus inaccurate applications of thinking strategies.
  • Answer questions that require persistence in discovering and analyzing data or information.

Evaluate

For you to do

  • Create conflict or perplexity by posing paradoxes, dilemmas or other situations to challenge students’ concepts, beliefs, ideas and attitudes.
  • Explain how to recognize and generate proof, logic, argument and criteria for judgments.
  • Explain the consequences of choices, actions or behaviors.
  • Provide relevant human or social models that portray the desired choices, actions or behaviors.
  • Explain with examples how factors such as culture, experience, desires, interests and passions, as well as systematic thinking, influence choice and interpretations.

For students to do

  • Evaluate the validity of given information, results or conclusions.
  • Draw inferences from observations and make predictions from limited information.
  • Explain how they form new judgments and how and why their current judgments differ from their previous ones.
  • Identify factors that influence choice and interpretations, such as culture, experience, desires, interests and passions, as well as systematic thinking.
  • Detect mistakes, false analogies, relevant versus irrelevant issues, contradictions and faulty predictions.
  • Critique a research study.
  • Use research and analysis to devise the best available solutions to problems and explain why they are the best.
  • Choose among possible behaviors, perspectives or approaches and provide justifications for these choices.

Create

For you to do

  • Promote careful observation, analysis, description and definition.
  • Explain the process and methods of scientific inquiry.
  • Explain and provide examples of how to identify a research problem, speculate about causes, formulate testable hypotheses and identify and interpret results and consequences.
  • Model inquiry and discovery processes.
  • Encourage independent thinking and avoid dead ends and simplistic answers.
  • Show students examples of creativity to solve problems.
  • Encourage students to take novel approaches to situations and problems.
  • Explain phenomena using metaphors and analogies.
  • Give students examples of reframing a problem — turning it upside down or inside out or changing perceptions about it.
  • Explain and encourage brainstorming.
  • Pose questions and problems with multiple good answers or solutions.
  • Give students opportunities for ungraded creative performance and behavior.

For students to do

  • Explain their experiences with inquiry activities and the results.
  • Resolve a situation or solve a problem that requires speculation, inquiry and hypothesis formation.
  • Resolve a situation or solve a problem requiring a novel approach.
  • Design a research study to resolve conflicting findings.
  • Write the limitations section of a research study.
  • Write the conclusions section of a research study.
  • Develop products or solutions to fit within particular functions and resources.
  • Manipulate concrete data to solve challenging thinking situations.
  • Practice reframing a problem — turning it upside down or inside out or changing perceptions about it.
  • Explain phenomena using metaphors and analogies.

Literature

  • Goodson, L. (2005, March). Content, presentation and learning activities. Paper presented at the 26th Annual Meeting of the Sharing Conference of the Southern Regional Faculty and Instructional Development Consortium, Lake Junaluska, NC.
  • Nilson, L. B. (2016). Teaching at its best: a research-based resource for college instructors (4th ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass