Instructional Methods: Heuristic and Expository strategies of teaching

Chapter 4

Teaching Strategies

4a i). Define expository and heuristic strategies of teaching.

         A teaching strategy is a way and means of organizing and facilitating learning experiences. There are two teaching strategies namely: expository (transmission) and heuristic(discovery) strategies.

Expository is an approach to teaching which a teacher uses to impart or expose knowledge to the students. The teacher tells students both the generalizations and specifics which are expected to be learned. They are further defined as strategies that are particularly effective for presenting declarative information in a step to step way through lecture, explanation and the provision of guided practice through oral drills. Examples of methods which fall under these are lecture, storytelling, narratives, teacher demonstration, text reading, recitation, note-dictating, audio-visual presentations etc.

Heuristic approaches also known as discovery or inquiry or experimental or facilitation, refers to an approach in teaching and learning where the learners are left to explore; find out information for themselves.  Teachers assume the non-directive role (Webster:1966). Propagated by  H.E. Armstrong, it is fundamentally based on the timeless psychological principles of the “trial and error” theory. Examples of methods which fall under heuristic are: experimental (laboratory experiment), project work, etc. small group work, role-play, discussion, inquiry or discovery

Advantages of Heuristic Teaching Strategies

  1. It greatly aids and facilitates the overall achieving of cognitive, psychomotor and also affective objectives. i.e. it helps in the development of an all round child.
  2. it serves to develop an attitude of scientific exploration and creativity int eh respective learners.
  3. By the teacher encouraging the students to explore the environment by themselves in search of an adequate solution of the problems, the learners get to discover knowledge by themselves knowledge which is easily retained by the learners.
  4. The learners are placed in situations in which they have to learn by themselves and through self-experience. This has the ripple effect of teaching the learners the skill of self-reliance in the learners.
  5. The teacher in such situations is always ready to give adequate individual guidance with regard to the solution to the specific problem. Hence such an interaction between the teacher and the learner takes place in a cooperative manner and in a much needed conducive environment.


Disadvantages of Heuristic Teaching Method

  1. A high amount of divergent thinking and also intelligence is required in huge amounts by the respective learners. Therefore, if there exist some students within the group who are below average and consequently fail to excel in the problem-solving phases they will end up giving up as they find it immensely frustrating.
  2. The practicability of the process is wanting, as many teachers are just not patient enough to provide the needed due diligence for the individual guidance of the students involved. The learners too may be intimidated and fear approaching teachers who may be able to provide the needed help.
  3. The method cannot be used at the primary level of teaching/education.


  1. There ought to be a sort of eligibility criteria for the provision of such problems.
  2. The capabilities, interests and also a choice of the subject ought to be taken to account when it comes to the allocation of problems to individual students.
  3. Many a time there could be multiple solutions to a single problem, therefore, it is the responsibility of the teacher to be able to provide relevant guidance to the learners to select the most potent or propitious solution to the problem.
  4. There could be existing multiple solutions to a single problem, therefore, it is the responsibility of the teacher to offer guidance to the learners to select the most propitious solution to the particular problem
  5. Ideally, the problem ought to be related to the course and curriculum and a definite relevant time period ought to be designated to the learners so as to finish their respective research work.

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