Contextual Teaching and Learning

By Reese, Susan | Techniques, January 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Contextual Teaching and Learning


Reese, Susan, Techniques


This is the second installment of our series on Richard Lynch's New Directions for High School Career and Technical Education in the 21St Century.

The research on different ways of learning explored in this issue of Techniques was also used by Richard Lynch in his yearlong assignment to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education. That assignment resulted in his paper, New Directions for High School Career and Technical Education in the 21 st Century.

According to Lynch, 20 years of research on student learning, motivation and achievement confirm the importance of contextual teaching and learning, so that students will understand the meaning of their experiences and thus the meaning of their educations. Much of this research also validates the applied, student-engaged, hands-on instructional approaches that have historically been used by career and technical educators.

Defining the Context

Contextual teaching is defined by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (Howey, 1998) as teaching that enables learning in which students employ their academic understandings and abilities in a variety of in- and outof-school contexts to solve simulated or real-world problems, both alone and with others. Using contextual teaching strategies, teachers help students make connections with their roles and responsibilities as family members, citizens, students and workers. Contextual learning is characterized as problem based, self-regulated, occurring in a variety of contexts, including the community and work sites, involving teams of learning groups, and responsive to a host of diverse learners' needs and interests.

Lynch says that this definition of contextual teaching and learning describes the existing practices of many effective teachers, but he also cautions, "far too many teachers continue to use very traditional, talk-and-chalk methods." In fact, the new knowledge about intelligence, brain development, cognition and learning-and the ways in which this relates to student motivation and achievement-pose serious challenges to the way the vast majority of students are still being taught.

Contemporary research studied by Lynch puts student cognition and learning into a relatively new theory of contextual teaching and learning. This new theory says that cognition today is:

* situated in certain physical and social contexts (how a person learns a particular set of knowledge and skills, and the situation in which he or she learns them, are a fundamental part of what is learned and how that person will transfer the knowledge);

* social, in that interactions with other people are major determinants of what is learned and how that learning takes place; and

* distributed over the individual, other people, and symbolic and physical environments.

Seeing the Relevance

As we learn more about how students think and learn, we also need an ongoing study of ways to motivate them to continue to learn, because lifelong learning will be even more important in a continually evolving technological society. To keep students learning, we must draw from their interests and personal experiences and demonstrate the connections between what they need to learn and how that learning will be used in the real world.

Lynch finds that, to most high school students, the traditional teaching methods involving lecturing, lecturing with overhead or chalkboard, and working or reading at one's desk are boring. As a result, these disengaged students not only do not learn well, but they also have difficulty retaining, and subsequently applying, what they learned in both the short and long term.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Contextual Teaching and Learning
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.