Instructional Theories in the Classroom Context

Cite this


There is a strong relationship between instructional practices and learning theories. They are best suited to increasing students’ learning ability, raising students’ achievement and burnout of teachers, and decreasing the number of students failing. Effective learning occurs as a means of effective teaching strategies. Effective teaching requires the teachers to familiarize themselves with learning concepts and create a theoretical orientation combined with practices for efficient instruction design (Lodge & Corrin, 2017). Learning is evidenced in both behavior changes and cognitive processes. Practical understanding of the students is majorly due to the effective strategies of teaching as well as the subject matter teacher knowledge.

To develop lesson plans that effectively bring desired objectives attainment, the teachers must attain a variety of skills and further understand the different ideas, concepts, and theories. Furthermore, other factors in managing learning efficiency include openness to opinion, clarity of the teachers, and interest stimulation (Juárez Santiago et al., 2020). All of this emphasizes the necessity of teachers comprehending learning theories and how to apply them to motivational, cognitive, and psychological learning related to students’ performance. The paper highlights the instruction theories that may be used to improve student’s learning and argues how they are employed in the classroom context. Some of the learning theories that the paper highlights include the Behavioral theory, constructivism theory, and cognitivism theory.

The Behavioral Theories

Behavioral theories are one way to help students improve their learning skills. This is because learning occurs due to changes observed in human behavior, most achieved through conditioning, a process accomplished through environmental interactions (Kwon & Silva, 2019). Learning does not happen if changes are not observed in the student’s behavior. Outward behavior is the most important sign for human learning because cognitive and interior processes are impregnable and cannot be systematically studied.

There should be instruction programmed for successful outcomes by shaping the responses. Programmed instruction is a method of learning and teaching in which a pre-determined subject is subdivided into distinct little steps and meticulously ordered into a logical sequence so that students can learn it rapidly (Plonsky et al., 2019). According to Plonsky et al. (2019), teachers can play an essential role in learning by identifying what they must teach with objectives based on the desired behavior. From this theory, students can effectively progress through the sequence of steps that the teacher establishes with immediate enforcement of the response after every step. The behavioral approach benefits the transfer of learning in that the knowledge, attitudes, and skills can be transformed in a group circumstance and used in different situations. The ability to link theory and practice and apply it to real-life situations is referred to as the transfer of learning. The approach can be employed in the classroom situation through the following types of instructions.

Direct Instruction

There is a method of learning in which pupils stay engaged and focused while reaching specific learning goals. Direct instruction establishes a disciplinary framework and can result in meaningful and methodical learning (Buchori et al., 2017). Direct education necessitates face-to-face venues to create an atmosphere conducive to collaborative learning in which students can freely communicate their ideas. On the other hand, students have fewer opportunities to participate in the conversation due to time limits while meeting face-to-face. As a result, teachers frequently interfere with maintaining authority to keep discussions and learning activities on course. Teachers can choose to give clear solutions to contentious issues to maintain class control. They can also identify misconceptions and provide explanations to help pupils understand different areas of the instructional material.

Teachers who intervene in a timely and suitable manner are thought to assist pupils in maintaining their engagement and academic performance. Direct instruction is usually made of three main components. For starters, direct instruction determines what should be taught and how the knowledge should be organized into major categories. Second, it incorporates unique programs to help students develop abilities by structuring lessons and meticulously planning instructional methods (Slocum & Rolf, 2021). Third, it establishes a clear set of processes for interactions between teachers and students. Some indicators should be used in the framework of direct instruction teaching processes. These strategies include presenting facts and questions, focusing discussions on specific problems, summarizing concepts, validating comprehension, diagnosing misconceptions, obtaining knowledge from several sources, and responding to critical concerns.

Activities may take place over a long time, and using changeups, which are brief interludes to recapture student attention, is an effective technique to maintain students’ interested during instruction. Lectures, web-based demos, video presentations, guest lecturers, supervised whole-group debates, and other similar activities are common methods of direct instruction (Slocum & Rolf, 2021). Changeups are used to divert students’ attention away from the lesson and then back to it to re-engage their attention. Changes must be tied to the learning objectives and content of the session. Because it is unrelated to achieving goals, a joke or a short break is not considered a change-up.

Teachers set specified goals and assign structured learning assignments for pupils to do to demonstrate what they have learned. Stockard et al. (2018) argue that direct instruction’s greatest virtue gives pupils a structure, organization, and sequence of lesson contents and learning activities that range from simple to sophisticated. Teachers set specified goals and assign structured learning assignments for pupils to do to demonstrate what they have learned. In support of the sentiments, direct instruction proves to be effective in blended learning situations. Students are more likely to feel connected when getting focused facilitation toward achieving learning objectives. Teachers must be more specific in their assignments and instructional activities due to this.

Excessiveness of direct instruction in class can weaken student responsibility for independent learning. Dignath & Veenman (2020) argue that the direct instructional model has limitations to students’ learning. The authors postulate that direct instruction lacks the opportunity for student-led activities. However, too little direct instruction might result in a sloppy framework and purpose for the subject matter. Nonetheless, despite their critics, I do not entirely support their argument for direct instruction. I view it as a paradigm that has been demonstrated to be effective in terms of delivering knowledge to the entire class, providing clarity through explanations, controlling student attention, and focusing on class objectives. As a result, while direct instruction is helpful for all students, it appears most suited for those who require rigorous controlled practice and teacher direction.

Mastery Learning

One more important way of setting successful learning is Mastery learning. Mastery learning is founded on the concept that students may master subject knowledge provided instruction is planned, consistently monitored, and presented in a specified style (Siddaiah-Subramanya et al., 2017). If three active elements are present: defined mastery objectives, predetermined and high passing requirements, and a criterion-referenced grading system, mastery learning can provide favorable results (Adeniji et al., 2018). Experienced teachers frequently set clear and attainable course objectives for all pupils to learn. They also assist students in meeting predetermined performance requirements in a criterion-referenced manner. It is a way that is directly tied to the achievement of set objectives and assessment criteria, regardless of how well other students are performing.

When pupils acquire mastery, their knowledge and skills will undoubtedly surpass their initial implementation. As a result, mastery learning necessitates a high level of education. According to McGaghie & Harris (2018), prior knowledge is a prerequisite for subsequent learning in mastery learning; therefore, mastering a simple lesson or unit exam is essential before moving on to a more complicated one. This emphasizes training that is organized in a logical order. Learning objectives must be accessible for all students and encouraged to learn new methods to improve their academic performance (McGaghie & Harris, 2018). Tutoring, peer monitoring, small group talks, and more assignments are required for students who do not achieve the required mastery level. They must learn and relearn until they reach the mastery standard of performance, at which point they must repeat the cycle of learning and testing.

Teachers should break down instruction into tiny, digestible chunks to generate effective mastery learning. As a foundation for doing more complicated tasks, units should be presented logically from tangible to abstract. Students can also demonstrate mastery of information through testing or formative evaluation. For students to master knowledge, teachers must provide defined objectives and directed instruction. Additional or specially created activities are required to assist remedial pupils in correcting misunderstandings.

Critics of mastery of learning, such as Adeniji et al. (2018), argue that teachers frequently use achievement assessments to teach and guide students’ attention. This may result in improved learning outcomes, but it does not provide pupils with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter, causing their comprehension to become restricted in a behavioral and structured context. Furthermore, in mastery programs, capable students must wait for slow pupils to catch up, causing the former to receive far less material and lose interest. Again, there is little interaction between teachers and students and between students themselves.

Despite the debates about the harmful elements of mastery learning, I believe that combining mastery learning with corrective procedures can result in significant academic gains. This is because mastery learning benefits both high-level and low-level pupils. After all, they must demonstrate their competence in the required performance criterion. It is also quite good for slow kids and has minimal skills. While high-level students are more likely to achieve a high exam score and master the subject matter faster, low-level students are also regarded as successful in completing the benchmark while receiving lower grades. The model supports the idea that learning should be based on a set of standards, with passing these standards regarded as proof of competency. This encourages all students to study in a supportive environment to obtain constructive comments and corrective processes to improve their academic performance.

Cognitive Theories

According to cognitivism, learning is viewed as a movement in cognitive thinking that focuses on inner mental activities that change people’s perceptions, revelations, and comprehension of their surroundings. The learning basis of cognitivism is built on human memory (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020). There can be no learning without memory, and memory becomes an empty vessel without learning. On the other hand, understanding knowledge that occurs in the brain is intricate because there is no straightforward way to examine mental operations. To properly appreciate thought patterns, scholars have centered on comprehensive monitoring and investigation of learning, human memory and problem-solving processes. Social connections, or an intentional connection between people and their impressions of their settings, are stressed in learning skills. Individuals are considered interactive and intentional individuals who interact with the world predicated on intellect and attitude in societal interactionism rather than passive objects. Learning in students can be well expressed through their adaptability to the internal functions that create new experiences (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020). Cognitive theory is well explained through self-directed learning and cognitive strategies.

Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning strives to increase student autonomy by requiring students to take charge of their knowledge to achieve desired results. Self-directed learners constantly seek development, always evolving, always learning, and continuously altering and improving themselves. Problems, situations, tensions, confrontations, and circumstances are seen as fantastic learning opportunities. This is because autonomy is the cornerstone of self-directed learning; it is better suited to adults capable of managing and adjusting their knowledge rather than youngsters. Adult learners typically set clear goals, devise strategies, and maintain control over their actions and behaviors to attain their objectives. They understand how to approach challenges confidently and strategically, monitor problem-solving strategies, and apply several options if learning outcomes are not as planned (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020).

Teachers should promote individual and small group work for debates and team projects to develop successful self-directed instruction. Teachers should also prioritize student exploration and student-centeredness and devote significant time to developing self-directed learning projects. Teachers can also help students with self-directed learning by equipping them with suitable learning tools. Students should share examples of successful learning approaches as part of these initiatives. Students can improve their methods and embrace potential strategies for improved academic performance by sharing what works and what does not. Teachers should also emphasize the significance of working strategically to reach desired goals with the least amount of time and effort. Furthermore, self-directed learning recommendations should emphasize the importance of changing tactics in different environments for different reasons.

Theories of Constructivism

Constructivism is a key learning theory that educators employ to assist pupils in their learning. Constructivism is founded on the premise that people actively create or make their own knowledge and that your experiences as a learner define your reality. Learners basically use their prior knowledge as a foundation and then add to it with new information. The thesis is based on the premise that personal reflection shapes an individual’s perception of the environment in which they live (Suhendi & Purwarno, 2018). Learners should not wait for knowledge to be filled in for them but rather actively seek meaning and nurturing self-awareness. Learners frequently interpret or invent new rules to understand things when confronted with a concept, belief, or phenomenon that is illogical. Depending on their living arrangements and interactions, they can develop various perceptions of similar things. In other words, the live environment impacts human thinking since it is contextually anchored and interpersonally impacted.

According to Xu & Shi (2018), Individuals that actively participate in the learning process and integrate new information with previously acquired information are learning. Learning is well-defined as the process of generating information rather than receiving it. In addition, rather than giving facts, teaching is considered to be assisting students in constructing ideas. When employing constructive strategies, teachers can start with what students already know and use thought-provoking questions and scaffolding approaches to lead them to knowledge acquisition. Scaffolding is a helical teaching style that provides full support and a framework of consecutive lesson materials to help students learn new concepts incrementally based on prior knowledge. Service learning and cooperative learning are the instructional models that help apply the model to the classroom context.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning is a common model for maximizing the efficacy of constructivism. It is a teaching method that uses small-group assignments to achieve a common goal. Collaborative learning is also acknowledged as an excellent strategy for promoting sociability and increasing student desire to collaborate with others from different backgrounds and learning requirements (Suhendi & Purwarno, 2018). Students learn to listen to what others say and how they say it, discuss topics, and share ideas and viewpoints. Furthermore, they seek solutions to problems, provide and receive assistance, and actively build additional comprehension whenever they work collaboratively.

Depending on students’ academic levels, constructivist teaching frameworks might be basic or complex. It is not as simple as putting students in groups and assigning tasks to start cooperative learning. Instead of teaching, it requires instructors to participate in various professional activities. It necessitates the teacher’s ability to carefully classify students with similar characteristics, set realistic goals, design appropriate activities, and track individual development (Munir et al., 2018). It also requires teachers to provide regular feedback on student achievement to develop academically. Feedback is critical for academic performance, and it should be precise, explicit, goal-oriented, and objective. The teacher must provide intensive support or clarification to students who have difficulty understanding a concept or following directions.

To begin cooperative learning, educators need to understand the following five basic principles; Positive interdependence, where students frequently acquire a competitive mentality; collaborative learning encourages students to collaborate and stresses individual and team success. Face-to-face interaction: Because cooperative learning emphasizes interaction, students must interact, assist others with learning tasks, and express their thoughts to meet their objectives. Individual and group responsibility, in which students are held responsible for their own progress and job performance in order to achieve collective objectives. The development of social skills is one of the most crucial parts of cooperative learning. It provides opportunities for pupils to practice interpersonal skills in school, at work, and in their communities (Suhendi & Purwarno, 2018). This kind of group evaluation keeps students informed about their performance during class. Students can use group evaluation to address issues during the learning process.


Teachers should construct a curriculum that reflects the combined qualities of these three theories of learning because students have a variety of learning methods and academic backgrounds. When there are specific educational requirements that students must meet, teachers should use direct instruction. Furthermore, when there are specific academic requirements that students must meet, educators should use mastery learning; and when self-directed teaching effectively develops students autonomous learning habits, teachers should use self-directed learning. On the other hand, cognitive techniques can be used when pupils’ intellectual skills and learning approaches need to be developed. In addition, cooperative learning can be used when the primary purpose of a course syllabus is to improve communication or problem-solving skills.


Adeniji, S. M., Ameen, S. K., Dambatta, B. U., & Orilonise, R. (2018). Effect of mastery learning approach on senior school students’ academic performance and retention in circle geometry. International Journal of Instruction, 11(4), 951–962.

Buchori, A., Setyosari, P., Dasna, I. W., Ulfa, S., Degeng, I. N. S., & Sa’dijah, C. (2017). Effectiveness of direct instruction learning strategy assisted by mobile augmented reality and achievement motivation on students cognitive learning results. Asian Social Science, 13(9), 137.

Dignath, C., & Veenman, M. V. J. (2020). The role of direct strategy instruction and indirect activation of self-regulated learning—evidence from classroom observation studies. Educational Psychology Review.

McGaghie, W. C., & Harris, I. B. (2018). Learning Theory Foundations of Simulation-Based Mastery Learning. Simulation in Healthcare: The Journal of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, 13, S15–S20.

Plonsky, O., Apel, R., Ert, E., Tennenholtz, M., Bourgin, D., Peterson, J. C., Reichman, D., Griffiths, T. L., Russell, S. J., Carter, E. C., Cavanagh, J. F., & Erev, I. (2019). Predicting human decisions with behavioral theories and machine learning. ArXiv:1904.06866 [Cs].

Schunk, D. H., & DiBenedetto, M. K. (2020). Motivation and social cognitive theory. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 60, 101832.

Slocum, T. A., & Rolf, K. R. (2021). Features of direct instruction: a content analysis. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 14(3), 775–784.

Stockard, J., Wood, T. W., Coughlin, C., & Rasplica Khoury, C. (2018). The Effectiveness of direct instruction curricula: a meta-analysis of a half-century of research. Review of Educational Research, 88(4), 479–507.

Suhendi, A., & Purwarno. (2018). Constructivist learning theory: the contribution to foreign language learning and teaching. KnE Social Sciences, 3(4), 87.

Xu, Z., & Shi, Y. (2018). Application of constructivist theory in flipped classroom — take college english teaching as a case study. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 8(7), 880.

Juárez Santiago, B., Olivares Ramírez, J. M., Rodríguez-Reséndiz, J., Dector, A., García García, R., González-Durán, J. E. E., & Ferriol Sánchez, F. (2020). Learning management system-based evaluation to determine academic efficiency performance. Sustainability, 12(10), 4256.

Kwon, H. R., & Silva, E. A. (2019). Mapping the landscape of behavioral theories: a systematic literature review. Journal of Planning Literature, 35(2), 088541221988113.

Lodge, J. M., & Corrin, L. (2017). What data and analytics can and do say about effective learning. Npj Science of Learning, 2(1).

Munir, M. T., Baroutian, S., Young, B. R., & Carter, S. (2018). Flipped classroom with cooperative learning as a cornerstone. Education for Chemical Engineers, 23, 25–33.

Siddaiah-Subramanya, M., Smith, S., & Lonie, J. (2017). Mastery learning: how is it helpful? An analytical review. Advances in Medical Education and Practice, Volume 8, 269–275.

Cite this paper

Select style


ChalkyPapers. (2023, February 28). Instructional Theories in the Classroom Context. Retrieved from


ChalkyPapers. (2023, February 28). Instructional Theories in the Classroom Context.

Work Cited

"Instructional Theories in the Classroom Context." ChalkyPapers, 28 Feb. 2023,


ChalkyPapers. (2023) 'Instructional Theories in the Classroom Context'. 28 February.


ChalkyPapers. 2023. "Instructional Theories in the Classroom Context." February 28, 2023.

1. ChalkyPapers. "Instructional Theories in the Classroom Context." February 28, 2023.


ChalkyPapers. "Instructional Theories in the Classroom Context." February 28, 2023.