Didactic Triad: Characteristics And Components Of This Educational Model

A pedagogical model represented with a triangle formed by: teacher, student and knowledge.

Didactic triad

There are different pedagogical and psychological models that try to explain how teaching is transmitted and how learning occurs. The didactic triad is a pedagogical model that has its roots in the late nineteenth century, and that focuses on three components: the student, the teacher and knowledge.

In this article we will analyze the characteristics of the model also known as the pedagogical triangle, its components, and the relationships (called “processes”) that occur between them. Finally we will mention the criticism that the didactic triad has raised.

How do we learn?

They say that we learn every day of our lives. Learning implies acquiring knowledge and skills; in addition, it allows modifying previous beliefs and enriching oneself from environmental stimuli. As we have mentioned, there are different orientations or models to explain how we learn.

Learning models

The classic or traditional models refer to passive processes, where the student received the information that he should learn, and reproduced it in the corresponding exam (in fact, the current evaluation model in the educational system is based on this method).

However, later on, other models emerged: behavioral models, for example, which are based on affirming that knowledge is managed or “controlled” by the teacher, who offers it to the students themselves, but forgetting the more cognitive or emotional variables. .

Later the cognitivist models emerged , which focused their attention on how the student processes information when learning, giving a central role to cognitive abilities (attention, memory, perception, …).

On the other hand, we find progressive models, which focus on the student himself as an active agent when explaining the teaching-learning processes.

Finally, we have the model of the didactic triad, which presents characteristics of all models, and which supposes an integrative approach, but more of a constructivist type. This orientation defends that the student builds his own knowledge while maintaining an active role. We are going to see the most important features of the model.

Didactic triad: characteristics

The didactic triad is a pedagogical model proposed by Jean Houssaye, a French teacher, in 1986. It was in that year when he presented his thesis, which alluded to the relationship between three components in every pedagogical or educational act. These three components are: the teacher (or teacher), the student and knowledge.

Houssaye’s thesis was the starting point to start developing this psychopedagogical model, although in reality it was years before, in the middle of the 19th century (1850), when the first ideas of this theory began to appear.

The didactic triad moves away from behaviorist models that focus their attention on the role of the teacher as the “controller” of knowledge. This model aims to explain the teaching-learning processes based on bidirectional relationships between three elements that influence each other: the teacher, the student and knowledge.

Components of the pedagogical triangle

As we have seen, the components that make up the didactic triad are: the teacher, the student and knowledge. According to this model, these three elements are essential for learning to occur, that is, any pedagogical act that involves someone teaching something to someone (in this case, teacher and student).

1. Teacher

The first component of the didactic triad, the teacher or teacher, is the person who transmits knowledge to the student through a series of educational strategies. It is the reference figure for the student in terms of their growth at a cognitive and educational level, since it will allow them to assimilate and understand new concepts, which will enrich their culture and their person.

2. Student

Within the didactic triad, the student is the one who “receives” the knowledge; but it is not a passive reception, but rather it consists of the student himself developing an active role within the learning process, giving meaning to what he internalizes.

That is, the student learns, acquiring knowledge that he previously did not have, but for this he must be motivated and open to knowledge. It is the active agent of the triad.

3. Knowledge

Knowledge is the material to learn. It is not a physically tangible material, but a set of information, data, experiences, theories and ideas that the teacher will transmit to the student, making him a participant in it so that he can finally apprehend it (apprehending goes a little beyond learning, implies assimilating, understanding something).

Relationships or processes

Between the components of the didactic triad, bidirectional relationships occur. These relationships are called processes, and three exist simultaneously : between the teacher and the knowledge (teaching), between the teacher and the student (training / practice) and between the student and the knowledge (learning).

We are going to analyze each of these processes:

1. Teaching

In the didactic triad, teaching is the process that arises as a consequence of the relationship between the teacher and knowledge. These two components are essential for teaching to occur; thus, the teacher imparts his knowledge to teach the student.

2. Training

Also called practice, it is the relationship that occurs between the teacher and the student. Depending on how this relationship is, learning will occur more or less easily.

If the relationship is favorable and fluid, communication will be easier and training, that is, the process that originates between these two components will be more positive, facilitating the student to take advantage of the teaching situation.

3. Learning

The third relationship of the didactic triad occurs between the student and knowledge. That is, it has to do with how the student interacts with the knowledge imparted by the teacher, with how he manipulates that information, how he uses it, etc.

If the relationship is profitable, the student will end up learning, that is, learning will occur, and the pedagogical act will have been successful, since it will have fulfilled its purpose.

Model criticism

Although the didactic triad offers a very complete explanation to illustrate the teaching-learning processes, like any model or theory, it has also raised certain criticisms.

Those who are not so in favor of the didactic triad as an explanatory model of this type of process, refer to three arguments:

1. Context

This model ignores the context in which learning occurs. Critics of the didactic triad argue that context is also a fundamental part of understanding how one person learns, and / or how another teaches, transmitting knowledge.

2. Knowledge as something tangible

Critics also believe that knowledge is not really something tangible, physical or that can be “touched” (as the didactic triad defends). In other words, it is not something that can be “acquired” and it is not something that affects the other components of the learning process, unlike what the triad model affirms.

3. Teacher independence and knowledge

Another criticism made by detractors of the model is that they consider that the teacher and knowledge are not really independent components, and that this cannot be said, as the model maintains.

Bibliographic references:

  • Coll, C .; Palacios, J .; Marchesi, A. (2003). Psychological development and education. 2. Psychology of school education. Alliance: Madrid.
  • Román, CF and Naranjo, MP (2015). The didactic triad in a constructivist education model. Writings in the Faculty: Pedagogical Reflection, 109: 56-57.
  • Sampascual, G. (2007). Psychology of the education. 2 Volumes. UNED: Madrid.
  • Uljens, M. (1997). School Didactics And Learning. East Sussex: Psychology Press.

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