Developmental teaching is based upon a student centred philosophy of teaching which requires you to reason with students to have them meet predetermined objectives. Using students' background knowledge, you ask questions which lead students to determine the next step in a procedure, the logical application of a principle, or the final solution to a problem. The rate of progress in developing the more complex ideas of the lesson is governed by the students' perception and comprehension. Questions should be asked to review previously learned material. The process of developmental teaching begins when students are required to reason out and make suggestions with respect to new material.
Developmental teaching has been used throughout the years by all good teachers. Because of the requirement for every student to participate, developmental teaching is effective with small groups and with individual students. It can be used at any level of student knowledge provided you know or determine the appropriate level and proceed accordingly. Depending upon the subject matter, some lessons can be entirely "developmental". More frequently, however, there will be a combination of teaching by explanation, where it may be more efficient to explain certain material, and developmental teaching where crucial areas of the subject matter can be reasoned with your students. In almost every lesson, some developmental teaching is appropriate and desirable.
The main advantage of developmental teaching is that it promotes efficient student learning because it satisfies all the basic aspects of learning. Since students participate in meaningful activity, they are forced to think about the material being learned, as questions are answered verbally. Consequently, interest is maintained, a sense of accomplishment is gained and effective learning takes place. You receive constant feedback and frequent confirmation of a student's progress.
Careful planning for developmental teaching is critical because you must formulate appropriate questions which demand reasoning on the part of your students. The standard questioning techniques must be observed, and student responses must be handled with tact and discretion. In addition to being a master of the subject material, you must be flexible in your approach. You must permit adequate discussion, yet exercise sufficient control to move towards the lesson objectives. Frequent summaries are necessary to consolidate the material as the lesson progresses.
Novice instructors are frequently apprehensive about trying developmental teaching. Experience has shown that students consistently surprise instructors if given the chance to participate actively in the learning process. The disadvantage of lecturing during preparatory instruction is that students are frequently told material that they already know, or that they reasonably can be expected to deduce on their own. The best teaching occurs when students are led to a point from which they can systematically direct their own reasoning to the solution of a problem. The secret of effective learning is to keep students mentally active in the learning process. With developmental teaching students are forced to think.