Article Index

Student grouping methods

By Béatrice Haenggeli

Photograph: © Ecole la Découverte

IMG 5949Learning at school can take many forms, depending on the methods used to work with students. The teacher chooses the appropriate work methods depending on the assigned goals and tasks that must be addressed and the conditions in which the learning process unfolds (student age, teaching staff, presence of another adult, etc.). The role of the teacher, the priority-ranking of knowledge-acquisition and the impact that the educational process has on the students – all of this can change depending on work methods.

Of course, these changes depend on the method of working with students chosen by the teacher. When using the frontal teaching method, for example, interaction between the teacher and the students takes place according to the “to-and-fro” principle. During group instruction there is interaction among the students, while the teacher remains on the periphery of the informational exchange. The conditions in which the learning process unfolds, such as student age, also influences the choice of teaching method. If we’re talking about little boys (3-6 years old), we observe a partial substitution of work method, insofar as the students are not yet able to concentrate on any one thing for an extended period of time.

Five different methods have been identified for working with students. The teacher can use various teaching methods over the course of the day, class or even a single lesson. Of course, certain situations are best suited to the frontal teaching method (if we’re talking about a whole class). First and foremost, this work method is typical of secondary and post-secondary educational institutions. Provided below is a description of the most frequently-used methods of working at elementary school, but other work methods can be used and entirely new ones can be developed.