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

Different pedagogical and psychological models try to explain how teaching is transmitted and how learning occurs. The didactic triad is a pedagogical model that has its roots at the end of the 19th century and focuses on three components: the student, the teacher, and the 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 criticisms that the didactic triad has provoked.

How do we learn?

They say we learn every day of our lives. Learning implies acquiring knowledge and skills; Also, it allows modifying previous beliefs and enriching the stimuli of the environment. 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 to be learned and reproduced it in the corresponding exam (in fact, the current evaluation model in the education system is based on this method).

However, other models later 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 most cognitive or emotional variables.

Later on, cognitive 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 the 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 the models, and that is an integrative approach, but more of a constructivist type. This orientation defends that the student builds his knowledge while maintaining an active role. Let’s see the most important features of the model.

Didactic triad: characteristics

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

Houssaye’s thesis was the starting point to begin to develop this psycho-pedagogical model, although it was years before, in the mid-nineteenth century (1850), when the first ideas of this theory began to appear.

The didactic triad moves away from behavioral models that focus their attention on the teacher’s role as a “controller” of knowledge. This model aims to explain the teaching-learning processes based on two-way relationships between three elements that influence each other: the teacher, the student, and the 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 take place, that is, any pedagogical act that implies that someone teaches someone something (in this case, teacher and student).

1. Professor

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” knowledge; but it is not a passive reception, but rather it is that the student himself develops an active role in the learning process, giving meaning to what he is internalizing.

That is, the student learns, acquiring knowledge that he did not previously 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 him to finally apprehend him (apprehending goes a little beyond learning, and it implies assimilating, understanding something).

Relations or processes

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

We will analyze each of these processes:

1. Teaching

In the didactic triad, teaching is the process that arises as a result 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 take place 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, making it easier for 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 takes advantage of it, etc.

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

Model Reviews

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 a person learns, and/or how another teaches, transmitting knowledge.

2. Knowledge as something tangible

Critics also think that knowledge is not something tangible, physical or that can be “touched” (as the didactic triad defends). That is, 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. Independence teacher and knowledge

Another criticism made by critics of the model is that they believe that the teacher and knowledge are not independent components and that this cannot be affirmed, as the model maintains.