The Effectiveness of Varying Delivery Methods in Teaching Math

Students are not robots; they do not think, talk or learn in identical ways. Utilizing a variety of teaching methods is essential to reaching all students according to their individual learning styles, interests and strengths. Varying delivery methods is part of the larger concept of differentiating instruction, which is popular in twenty-first-century education.

  1. Theoretical Basis for Varying Delivery Methods

    • Differentiation is the term for varying teaching delivery methods and instructional levels to suit students’ individual needs and abilities. The concept of differentiation is based largely on the concepts of multiple intelligences and learning styles. The theory of multiple intelligences, originated by Howard Gardner, a Harvard Professor, refers to the various types of human intelligence: musical, logical/mathematical, verbal/linguistic, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, visual/spatial, and naturalistic. The theory of multiple intelligences is largely related to learning styles theory, which states that all students learn differently. When teachers incorporate a variety of learning styles, they are more likely to engage all students, resulting in greater student retention of information.

    Direct Instruction

    • Direct instruction is the most often used teaching method. In direct instruction, teachers teach specific concepts, skills, or procedures to students, usually as an entire class. In math, this method is often used for teaching algorithms or mathematical processes.

    Cooperative Learning

    • Cooperative learning, or working in groups, is a great way to involve students who require social engagement during the learning process. Students can work in pairs to solve math problems or play math games in small groups. Peers can mentor one another while building community and social skills through cooperative learning.


    • Lecture, while not as interesting as other methods, is essential for presenting new concepts. Teachers can make lecture more engaging by incorporating class discussion and multimedia presentations into the lecture format.


    • Brainstorming is a great method to use in math instruction. Students can brainstorm methods for solving problems, particularly story problems or real-world problems. This can easily lead to class discussion about choosing correct operations and procedures to solve problems.

    Visual Presentations

    • Visual presentations, such as slide shows or videos, can be helpful for students who are more inclined toward visual learning. Demonstration or modeling is another type of visual presentation that is beneficial for teaching procedures.

    Role Play

    • Role play may seem unusual for math instruction, but many problem situations can be acted out. Role playing can help students understand very abstract concepts by making them seem more concrete.


    • Multiple delivery methods in mathematics instruction help learners to become more engaged in the learning process. Active engagement in learning results in higher achievement in math. Students who are more actively engaged are also less likely to suffer from math anxiety, or fear of failure in math. These students are more likely to view math in terms of practical applications, rather than isolated concepts and procedures.

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