Democratic and Prescriptive Instructional Strategies

According to the Alternative Educational Resource Organization, a democratic approach of education is one whereby students or learners have the autonomy in scheduling their daily actions and that there is no impartiality and undemocratic decision making among the students and teachers. (Bennett, 2001)
A prescriptive approach is one whereby students are presented with the course outline of what they will learn and what they are expected to do. It involves student getting their learning results from what the teachers are saying and from the existing literature that is prescribed by the teacher or the instructor. In essence prescriptive approach is a strategy where the students rely heavily on what their teachers will say and the literature they are directed to use.
The differences between the two approaches are the freedom given to the learners to make decisions. We find that in a prescriptive approach there is no excellent environment for learning because students are supposed to do what their tutors do without any alteration. Students are always forced to do activities that they are not comfortable with because there is no interaction between the teacher and the students hence the morale of the students is always low and tend to perform poorly in their course work. While in a democratic approach there is greater interaction among the students themselves and between the students and their teachers thus opening avenues of generating new knowledge and it is likely that students will be satisfied with the outcome. Another difference is that in democratic approach a lot of emphases is directed to the generation of new knowledge while in the prescriptive approach students are required to gain from the instructions of their teachers and from the existing literature or textbooks. An example of a democratic strategy is the use of debates and an example of a prescriptive approach is the use of lectures as ways of learning. (Fraser, 1996)
This strategy involves dividing the students in class into a various grouping that will represent certain points of view on the identified issue which is always the most compromising subject. In the division of groups, they are those who support the argument, that is the proponents or those for, and those who oppose the issue referred to as those against or the critics. Students can involve themselves in the debates through character or even assuming different roles. An example of an issue to be subjected to debate may be, Does globalization leads to prosperity or impoverishment One group of the students will be expected to support the argument that globalization brings prosperity while the other group is expected to take a stance against globalization that it brings impoverishment. Debates can lead to a generation of new knowledge because by arguing it out a point, there is an opportunity of integrating ideas and hence conclusions arrived at being useful in the learning process.