7 Instructional Strategies

Experiment, Experience, Evaluate, Envision
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Instructional Strategies

When designing a course, instructors must consider WHAT they want the students to learn and HOW they want students to learn it.

Instructional strategies address the WHAT and HOW of learning by encompassing the methods and plans instructors will use to teach students enrolled in their courses. When aligned with course learning outcomes, instructional strategies help students learn, master content or subject knowledge, and provide opportunities and environments that support student reflection, collaboration, and constructive feedback.

Well-defined instructional strategies can help students become successful strategic learners and meet course learning goals (Akdeniz, 2016; Seechaliao, 2017). Course design greatly influences the student’s ability to become a self-directed learner in an online course (Boettcher & Conrad, 2021; Jaggers & Xu, 2016; Martin, Budhrani, Kumar, & Ritzhaupt, 2019).

Instructional strategies in traditional and online courses

In an online course the faculty role shifts from that of “telling” students and controlling the classroom to that of becoming a facilitator who coaches, guides, and mentors students toward solutions (Boettcher et al., 2021; Palloff & Pratt, 2011).

There are many instructional strategies available for use in a traditional face-to-face environment that can be adopted for online applications. These strategies include:

  • Collaborative Learning. Two or more students work together, building consensus, on the execution and delivery of a group project or assignment. Laal and Ghodsi, (2012) found that the benefits of collaborative learning include higher achievement, greater productivity, and positive interdependence among students.
  • Discussions. This strategy is interactive and promotes student engagement and facilitates the development of critical thinking and reflection in students.
  • Small-Group Projects. Online projects can be customized to allow students to explore areas of interest.
  • Role-Playing. In a cooperative or collaborative learning setting, the role would be dependent on the task. The benefit of this strategy is accountability. Everyone must participate if the group is to be successful.
  • Journals. Journals support the development of the student’s critical thinking skills by providing them with opportunities to reflect on their thoughts, feeling, and experiences and clarify their understanding.

Instructor facilitation skills should be implemented so that students learn to interact with their peers, content, and the instructor at a high level. Online facilitation includes implementing a course infrastructure that encompasses Best Practices for Teaching Online highlighted below.


Graphic created by Ron Carranza, Andrew Salcido, and Jessica Cole at Arizona State University.

More Information on Instructional Strategies

For more information on instructional strategies, including group work, case studies, project-based learning and more, please visit the Faculty Hub or submit a ticket to CELTT.


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Online Teaching Handbook Copyright © 2021 by The Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, and Technology at The University of Baltimore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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