Non-Traditional Teaching Strategies that Motivate Students

Traditional learning methods are not effective for all individuals, and as such, educators must find new ways to engage their students. Here, the education and enrichment professionals at Hot Spots Extended Care Program describe several non-traditional teaching strategies that motivate young students.

Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning focuses on the curiosities and interests of students, rather than a pre-determined learning course. Teachers can choose a general topic based on an overarching curriculum or educational goal, then allowing students to develop questions about the topic based on their own academic interests and strengths. After researching the topics, students can then teach their topics to the class, reflect on how their inquiry progressed and assess whether they would change their methods of inquiry next time.

For this method of learning to be successful, students must be allowed to collaborate, and topics must in some way align with broader lessons and learning outcomes. Students must also be able to connect their topics to real-world knowledge, and problem-solve throughout their inquiry.

Service Learning

Service is like inquiry-based learning. However, the key difference is the community service component of service learning. Service learning allows students to apply knowledge they have gained in the classroom to real-world problems through community outreach programs. Often, service learning allows for “collateral learning,” whereby students gain knowledge and skills outside of the classroom that ultimately bolster the knowledge and skills they acquire within the classroom. This method of teaching also allows students to see the “real world” benefit and value of their education, and increase their autonomy and ownership of projects.

As with inquiry-learning, students must be allowed to choose their own projects and collaborate with other students in order to foster success. Although studies of student motivation and the use of service learning are limited, a study that analyzed 807 high school students showed that 45% of students felt that service learning was more worthwhile than traditional school, 80% believed that increased levels of service learning implementation would positively influence the way they look at school and 77% believed that service learning encouraged students to work harder.


Unlike in-class discussion, debates are based on a formal style and a question that generally does not have a right or wrong answer. Debates incorporate topics where a marginal opinion could prove particularly valuable.

In-class debate empowers students allowing them to become intimately involved in researching, teaching and recognizing alternative points of view. It promotes autonomy, decreases biases and encourages students to challenge and analyze their way of thinking. This learning strategy can be particularly valuable when attempting to recreate a historical debate in order to deepen student’s knowledge of the issues that were debated.

Hot Spots Encourages Non-Traditional Teaching Methods

Extra-curricular enrichment can play an integral part in a non-traditional teaching approach, allowing students to focus on specific topics of interest. Hot Spots Extended Care Program values incorporates customized curriculum that allows students to learn in unique and engaging ways at their own pace, helping them to maintain excitement, focus and interest. To learn more about Hot Spots enriching programs for young students, contact us today!