Poll Everywhere Resources - 9 Teaching Styles to Try Out as a Higher Ed Educator

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A 2021 study indicated that autonomy-supportive teaching styles positively impact student engagement compared to traditional methods, such as lecturing. The industry consensus is that teaching styles largely impact how students learn, and may resonate differently with each student’s learning style, for better or worse. 

There are three learning types: audio (learning through listening), visual (learning through seeing) and kinesthetic (learning through doing).

When you match your teaching style to how a student learns, it makes a massive difference.

We’ll explore nine effective teaching styles that higher education professors can use to better suit different types of learners and create impactful classroom experiences.

Use a combination of teaching styles to engage students

Educators don’t need to limit themselves to one teaching style. Different situations demand a different teaching strategy, and those who know when to use the right format will empower their students to learn in the most effective way possible. 

You may adopt an inquiry-based approach for a research-oriented class, but find a facilitator approach better suits your laboratory session. This adds variety to your students' learning experience and they are likely to absorb what they're learning more readily. When you account for a student's learning style in the process, you'll also create more effective learning experiences.

1. Lecturer

Also known as the authoritative style, educators who lecture deliver information directly to students in a structured format. It’s one of the most traditional and widely used methods of teaching.

Communication is a one-way street during lectures. The focus is to deliver an in-depth lesson in a short period. This is common when class sizes are substantial and one-on-one interaction is limited. However, there is scope for Q&A sessions during or after the lecture.

Best for: Audio learners


  • This format delivers large amounts of information in a short period.
  • Lecturing can be an efficient teaching style for more theoretical subjects, like communication.
  • Students have space to take notes or jot down questions during the lecture.


  • One-way communication risks passive learning, and students might become mere note-takers.
  • Lectures are less effective for subjects requiring practical application of critical thinking.

2. Demonstrator

When you teach in a demonstrative style, you utilize visual aids, experiments or role-playing skits to communicate crucial concepts. Also referred to as coaching, this method is common in the sciences, arts and physical education.

For example, if you’re teaching a student about the anatomy of a fruit fly, it’s best to let them dissect and see the anatomy themselves. 

Best for: Visual and kinesthetic learners


  • Demonstrations help students visualize and understand complex concepts.
  • Hands-on exercises encourage active learning and student participation.
  • Real-time engagement supports long-term information retention.


  • Preparation for demonstrations or practical sessions can be time-consuming.
  • Hands-on activities often require additional resources and materials.
  • Depending on the demonstration type, larger groups of students may not receive individualized attention.

3. Facilitator

The Facilitator style is a student-centered approach in which the teacher guides and assists students but encourages them to learn on their own. They let students explore and solve problems independently, helping them develop their critical thinking skills. 

The goal is to allow students to participate in class discussions, take initiative, and collaborate with their peers. It also allows professors to take a more flexible teaching approach by adapting to student needs at that moment.

Best for: Audio, visual and kinesthetic learners


  • Students develop independence and responsibility in their education.
  • Facilitation can develop essential life skills like critical thinking and decision-making.
  • This level of participation encourages active engagement and a deeper understanding of the material.


  • Autonomy in this method requires students to be self-motivated and disciplined.
  • Students accustomed to traditional teacher-centered approaches may struggle to adopt this method.
  • Educators must be able to adapt the subject matter based on how students approach the topic.

4. Delegator

Delegation is best suited for subjects that require project-based learning, labs, or group work. Educators assign tasks and responsibilities to students, giving them autonomy to explore and complete the assignments with minimal direct instruction.

For example, a debate professor can hand over a topic to their students, ask them to prepare their arguments and present them. The professor observes, offers insights when needed and evaluates student performance.

Best for: Visual and kinesthetic learners


  • Delegation encourages independent learning and team collaboration among students.
  • Students develop leadership and management skills.
  • Practical, hands-on learning experiences can be readily delegated.


  • Students may feel overwhelmed or directionless without frequent guidance.
  • Increased autonomy risks unequal participation and contribution in group settings.
  • Students must be mature, self-motivated, and responsible.

5. Inquiry-based

In inquiry-based learning, the dynamic is flipped, wherein students take charge of their own learning through the process of discovery. It focuses on students' natural curiosity and helps them learn by allowing them to question concepts or ideas, conduct investigations, and explore their own solutions.

This style is prevalent in research-oriented disciplines like economics and the basic sciences. For example, professors can hand over a research paper to the class and ask them to review it. Based on their review, students are supposed to conduct further research into the topic using their hypothesis.

Best for: Kinesthetic learners


  • Self-driven inquiries promote deeper understanding and retention of the material through active engagement.
  • Students develop important research and analytical skills.
  • Creativity and intellectual curiosity are encouraged in approaching the subject matter.


  • The flexibility in this method can be time-consuming and challenging to structure and guide effectively.
  • Students must be comfortable with ambiguity and open-ended problems.
  • Teachers must be skilled in guiding and facilitating rather than providing direct answers.

6. Cooperator

When a teacher acts as a Cooperator, they work alongside students while learning. It's perfect for situations where students are working in teams and doing hands-on work. 

For example, in a creative writing workshop, everyone works together and makes their way through the required tasks. At the end of the session, students get certificates for the work they completed.

Best for: Kinesthetic learners


  • Cooperation promotes a sense of community and collaboration in the classroom.
  • Students develop communication and interpersonal skills.


  • Educators must manage this method carefully to ensure equal participation.
  • Students may rely too much on peers and not develop individual accountability.
  • Group dynamics can sometimes hinder learning if they are not correctly managed.

7. Flipped classroom

The traditional learning model is turned on its head in a Flipped classroom. Students are given access to learning material before the class to review and prepare notes/questions beforehand. The classroom time is used to engage in Q&A sessions, discussions or interactive class activities. 

Students get a fresh perspective on the topic before the educator introduces it. They're more likely to do additional research on the topic, improving their critical thinking and analytical skills.

Best for: Audio, visual and kinesthetic learners


  • Students prepare and engage with the material before class, encouraging curiosity.
  • Classroom time can be devoted to interactive, higher-order learning activities.
  • This method is adaptable to diverse learning styles and paces.


  • Students must be disciplined in their pre-class preparation.
  • Increased dependence on technology often becomes necessary for accessing learning materials.
  • Teachers need to create effective and engaging pre-class and in-class materials.

8. Game-based

Commonly known as gamification, this style involves using games or digital tools to support the learning process. Educators integrate their learning material into interactive games that students can play to engage with the course material actively.

For example, you can use Poll Everywhere to create a pop quiz with Clickable Images, Multiple Choice Questions, and Open-ended questions.  It creates an interactive learning environment where students can test their knowledge and educators can identify gaps. 

Educators get instant feedback about their students' understanding while students get to move out of typical learning styles, studying hard while playing hard.

Best for: Audio and visual learners


  • Games boost student engagement and motivation.
  • Interaction through games caters to a variety of learning styles and abilities.
  • Students improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • This environment is safe for trial and error, allowing students to learn from their mistakes.


  • Careful design is necessary to ensure games are both educational and engaging.
  • Games may require resources and time to develop or acquire suitable formats.
  • There is increased risk of students focusing more on the game than on the educational content.

9. Hybrid or blended

The Hybrid style takes a more modern approach. Educators combine different teaching methods in the classroom. This is one way for educators to get ahead of any learning-related issues or support varied learning styles.

For example, professors can use a combination of gamification techniques and hands-on activities to instill key concepts.

Best for: Audio, visual and kinesthetic learners


  • Students have flexibility to learn in a manner that suits them best.
  • Blending methods encourages self-directed learning and responsibility.
  • There is substantial access to a wide range of resources and materials online.


  • Blended style requires students and educators to be proficient with technology.
  • Educators must plan carefully to ensure the seamless integration of different learning modes.

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