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Teaching strategies for different stages of learning

In Step 2.2, we introduced you to three levels of teaching:

  • Level 1 - What the student is
  • Level 2 - What the teacher does
  • Level 3 - What the student does

A teacher who focuses on what students do (level 3) is clear about the type of learning/teaching activities that are required to achieve the learning outcomes.

This means the teacher needs to design appropriate strategies for this stage of student learning.

To help inform your course and/or class design the table below outlines a five-stage learning model (Toohey, 1999).

Use this table to help you select and implement appropriate teaching strategies.

Stage of learning Questions students might be asking themselves
1. Be introduced to it: This is the introductory stage where students just start considering the topic or subject. Is it interesting? What might be involved? How does this relate to what I already know and can do? How might it be of use to me?
2. Get to know it: An exploratory stage which involves further investigation from learners about checking their understanding through different activities What exactly is involved.. the detail? What are the concepts? How do the new concepts change the ones I already have? What is the scope and range? How is it applied? How do I understand it?
3. Try it out: Here learners might try out their new understanding, or skill which might be applying it to new situations (exercises, problems etc) This stage helps them to identify gaps in their knowledge. Can I do it? Who is watching? Do I understand it? What am I doing/understanding correctly? How can I improve my performance/understanding?
4. Get feedback: The feedback could be in various forms such as self, peers, or the teacher, in formative or summative tasks. What do my peers think? What does my teacher think? Did my performance meet expectations? (whose?) Would my performance be acceptable in the real world? What do I think?
5. Reflect, adjust, and try again: Take account of the feedback and try it out again. Students may need to go back to the getting to know more stage. Do I trust the feedback I got? Does the feedback match my own evaluation? Do I need to learn more? Do I need to try again? What do I need to focus on?

You may want to consider a sixth or final stage - ‘Use it’. Once the learners have acquired the knowledge and skills described in the learning outcomes the next stage will likely involve using that knowledge and/or those skills. The learners are ready to participate in workplace tasks and activities. If not practiced they may gradually lose the knowledge and skills.

Discussion point

Consider the following questions and provide your thoughts in the comments section of this page. Once you’ve contributed to the discussion download the Teaching strategies for different stages of learning.pdf document to view some suggested activities.

  • Can you think of teaching strategies that would be suitable for each of the stages of learning?
  • In your situation are there reasons why a specific strategy wouldn’t be appropriate in any of the stages?
  • Do you see any limitations with this particular model and its application to the learning process?

Work integrated learning

The previous model focused on classroom teaching, sometimes referred to as formal or classroom education. Work integrated learning (WIL) is described in various subtly different ways but may be generally described as an intentional integration of theory and practical knowledge through a teaching and learning program (Orrell, 2011).

Reflection point

How might a work integrated learning (WIL) model change the teaching strategies?


Biggs, J. & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university. Fourth edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Orrell, J. (2011). Good Practice Report: Work-integrated learning. Sydney: The Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

Toohey, S. (1999). Designing courses for higher education. Philadelphia, Penn. : Open University Press.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

UNSW Sydney