Teaching Skills: a continuum

Tools for Teaching Navigation

Tools for Teaching: Introduction

Facilitation Skills: The art of group facilitation

Teaching and Presentation Skills: Keep these techniques in mind

Tips for Programs

Use a Variety of Teaching Methods and Strategies

A Continuum of Teaching Methods

Different teaching methods can be described based upon their position on a continuum ranging from “exposition” to “inquiry” (Wolfinger, 1984).Exposition refers to an approach where information is delivered to the learner in final form. Inquiry refers to an approach where the learner generates his or her own form of the information.

In general, exposition is considered leader-centered with an emphasis on content delivery while inquiry is considered learner-centered with the emphasis on the process of learning. In a typical learning situation, this suggests that for exposition, the leader is actively involved (e.g., lecturing, reading aloud, showing a video) and the learner is passively taking in the information (e.g., listening, reading an overhead, watching a video). In contrast, learners engaged in inquiry are actively involved (e.g., conducting investigations, processing information and data) while the leader’s role is to help facilitate the process of learning.



leader active

learner passive

Content emphasis



leader facilitates

learner active

Process emphasis

“Exposition” and “inquiry” represent the two ends of a continuum of teaching methods. Other methods along the contiuum have more or less of the characteristics of the two extremes depending on their location. Teaching from Exposition to Inquiry[ PDF, 1 p, 25 KB] identifies five broad methods along the continuum: exposition, discussion, demonstration, guided discovery, and open inquiry. Example strategies listed under each method illustrates the breadth of each approach. Keep in mind that within each of these methods, the example strategies are on a mini-contiuum, possessing characteristics that lean toward one or the other of the adjacent methods. These lists of strategies are not all inclusive. In addition, the chart does not include skills (e.g., writing, questioning) or media (e.g., technology, art) that cut across all methods. Some strategies appear in more than one column depending on the for which the strategy is being used. For example, a “teleconference” can be one-sided, similar to a lecture, or it can be interactive, similar to a discussion.

Use Teaching from Exposition to Inquiry [ PDF, 1 p, 25 KB] to assure that your teaching includes a variety of strategies. The Explanation of Teaching Continuum [PDF, 5 pp, 145 KB] describes each method, its uses and benefits, and problems and concerns. This information will enable you to make a more informed decision about what stategies to use and when.


Wolfinger, D. M. (1984). Teaching Science in the Elementary School: Content, Process, and Attitude. Boston, MA: Little Brown and Company

Adapted with permission from Soil and Water Conservation District Outreach: A Handbook for Program Development, Implementation and Evaluation. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Conservation, 2003.