Indirect Teaching Method

What is the indirect teaching method?

Sezin Sevimli on June 25, 2021

The indirect method is a student-oriented education method. In this method, the teacher gives the necessary materials to the students rather than offering a live lesson in the classroom environment. The indirect method provides the student with problem-solving, decision-making, and detailed thinking skills. In addition, it expects students to have high observation and research skills. The teacher’s role in this method is more of a facilitator than a lecturer or a teacher. Indirect teaching is intertwined with constructivism, the philosophical view that argues people learn better and more from their own experiences.

We can find several other topics and methods under indirect teaching, but the topics I want to mention today are divided into two; the discussion method and the heuristic method.


The purpose of the discussion method is to provide a collaborative exchange of ideas and to develop an understanding of new ideas in a safe environment.

photo by ozeldersalani

Characteristics of the discussion method

  • The discussion method is two-way communication, and everyone should treat each other with respect regardless of the number of participants.
  • The teacher should divide the students into small or large groups according to the subject or the number of people.
  • During the discussion, the students talk while the teacher observes, listens, and analyzes the environment.
  • The discussion method is an active learning experience as students perform the speaking process more than the teacher.
  • As a helper and guide to the students, the teacher determines the subject.
  • Students receive meaningful and improving feedback and criticism from each other.
  • The discussion method should be done on topics that students already know or have learned before.

“Discussion, because it is an activity, engages the student’s mind more than do lectures. Instead of passively hearing the professor’s thoughts, the student engaged in dialogue is required to work his own mind, to form and express his own thoughts.”

From “Why the Discussion (Socratic) Method?”
by John W. Neumayr, Ph.D

Advantages of the discussion method

  • Students can have a chance to understand the topics in more depth.
  • Students’ critical thinking skills are further developed.
  • Students can be more creative and their confidence will improve. Thus their motivation increases.
  • Leadership skills develop as students manage the process on their own.
photo by multiBriefs

Disadvantages of the discussion method

  • Since some students are more prone to speaking than others, they have more control over the environment and can direct the conversation.
  • The act of giving time to everyone’s speech can become very time-consuming.
  • It is not suitable for all topics and situations.
  • If discussion is not properly controlled, it can stray off-topic and become complicated.

Click for more information about the discussion method


The heuristic method is a method used to combine several specific strategies to make the problem-solving phase easier.
The teaching process should be directed in an active and self-directed manner. We can classify the four approaches of the Heuristic Method as followed;
→discovery learning
→inquiry learning
→systematic problem-solving.

Problem Solving

Problem-solving is a method that can work in all areas of human life. It informs students about what to do in certain situations and prepares them for future real-life situations. In this process, the teacher offers suggestions rather than answers, recommends multiple problem-solving skills, and expects students to choose the most suitable one for them. It gives students a certain amount of time to work on heuristics and strategies. It encourages students to be bolder and think differently. It also strives to involve shy and low-speaking students in this process. Finally, it informs students that this process can be challenging but that they will eventually achieve what they want. The problem-solving method is divided into two in itself: Discovery and Inquiry.

A) Discovery Learning

“Practice in discovering for oneself teaches one to acquire information in a way that makes that information more readily viable in problem solving”

Jerome Bruner 

photo by canterburyps

Discovery learning aims for the students to act according to their own experiences and desires and reach information. Consequently, the student willingly proceeds through the learning process while using the scientific method of investigation. The learning process should be supervised and planned by the teacher.

B) Inquiry Learning

Unlike discovery learning, inquiry learning is a learning process that focuses on examining the problem. In inquiry learning, it is focused more on the process it’s reached than on reaching the correct result. It doesn’t have a specific pattern because it is acknowledged that every student can follow a different path in inquiry learning. Inquiry learning is divided into three.

Who identifies the problem?
Guided InquiryTeacher
Modified InquiryTeacher
Open InquiryStudent

Systematic Problem Solving

Systematic problem solving is a problem-solving method consisting of 12 different stages. The steps include investigating the problem, generating new ideas, designing new proposals, and producing solutions to achieve results. You can see the steps below:

  1. defining the problem
    • 2. brainstorming
    • 3. researching and generating ideas
    • 4. identifying criteria and specifying constraints
    • 5. exploring possibilities
    • 6. selecting an approach
    • 7. developing a design proposal
    • 8. making a model or prototype
    • 9. testing and evaluating the design using specifications
    • 10. refining the design
    • 11. creating or making the solution
    • 12. communicating the processes and results

To get further detail, check these pages too!


Aurangzeb, M. (2017, September 22). Discussion method. Slide Share.

Moore, K. D. (2009). Effective Instructional Strategies: From Theory to Practice (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Renard, L. (2019, March 28). Direct instruction – A practical guide to effective teaching. Book Widgets – Interactive Learning.

Indirect Instruction. (n.d.). Top Hat.