Contextual Teaching & Learning is ...

Although there exist no precise definition for Contextual Teaching & Learning, the following are among many interpretations:

Definitions from UGA CTL Project

Definitions/Reflections from our Students

Definitions from other CTL Projects


Definitions from UGA CTL Project: Contextual Teaching & Learning is ...

» CTL is instruction and learning that is meaningful. Typically that means that instruction is situated in context but for more advanced students meaningful learning can also be abstract and de-contextualized.

» CTL is an approach/perspective to teaching and learning that recognizes and adresses the situated nature of knowledge. Through connections both in and out of classroom, a CTL approach aims at making experience relevant and meaningful to students by building knowledge that will have applications to lifelong learning. In general, CTL aims to build collaboration between the university/school and community in ways which are mutually beneficial.

» CTL is opportunities for learning about how to link classroom experiences with the "real" working world. In university classes, CTL involved faculty connecting the control of courses with the future work experiences of the learners. By participating in university classes with a CTL orientation, prospective teachers should better understand how to help pupils make sense of what they are learning in the context of the working world.

» CTL is connecting educational theoretical knowledge to community practical applications.

» CTL is experiences that occur "in site" that tie education to careers-relevant and useful.

» CTL is the integration of knowledge into real life applications. It is the translation of theoretically-based pedagogy into practice. It is the framework wherein which those who are learning are facilitated in their connecting what is learned to the real world.

» CTL is a marriage between school-based teaching and learning and community-based teaching and learning. Students learn "in the filed" of their interest, often providing a service to the community during the learning experience. CTL promotes the development of knowledge and skills for success in the "real world".

» CTL is education within a specific environment (e.g., business and industry). The purpose is to ground teaching and learning in a real world setting to assist the learner in making connections between lessons and life.

» CTL is the process of relating classroom subjects with the real world.

» CTL is providing a learning environment for teachers that integrates the activities of the community that the teaching takes place.

» CTL is teaching and learning academic and life skills, information and knowledge and applications of that learning.

» CTL is teaching and learning with a strong focus on practical applications and careers, one that combines theory and practice.

» CTL attempts to bridge the gap between the academic disciplines and the real world experiences. It hopes to show students how teaching academics are used in their everyday lives.

» CTL is the building of communications between school learning and life outside of the classroom.

» CTL is the process of using a variety of contexts, teaching methods/strategies, and student initiated learning.

» CTL is a focus on the context of what we teach from the students' point of view. This involves the community and work context. CTL also focuses on aspects of text practice that allow students to learn better. These include appropriate teaching strategies, assessment strategies, etc.

» CTL is concerned with providing educational experiences (for teacher ed. programs) based on concerns, problems, issues related to situations in the society, particularly related to business, industry, commerce and other areas of economic enterprise.

» CTL is an attempt to adopt our instruction to better fit the learning needs and outcomes of business and industry.

» CTL is the learning and teaching based on pedagogy that is grounded in real life.

» CTL is an educational connection between and among disciplines, (ours) skills and the real world. It is bringing the work world into the classroom and taking the classroom into the world of work. Developing and using skills applicable in the real world. Providing students with opportunities to apply their knowledge.

» CTL is I have no earthly idea. It probably has something to do with making real life experiences of our students connect with school experiences.

» CTL is the process of placing learning within specific contexts so that the application of the skills and knowledge learned can occur more effectively and efficiently.

» CTL is the educational philosophy which believes that students learning can be enhanced by connecting content into the context of the students' own lives and possible occupations. It also stresses that the classroom itself is a learning context and that this should be explicitly reorganized.

» CTL is:

  • Using applications in the classroom (incorporating-can also be the basis for an instructional unit)
  • Giving students opportunities to see where theories might be applied in job situations, in regular life outside the classroom
  • Learning (as a teacher) what specific skills and techniques and activities might be beneficial for students pursuing jobs in certain areas.
  • Making a subject relevant to spark interest.

» CTL is about creating environments and situations where both teaching and the related learning takes place. It should enrich learning, making connections between ideas.

» CTL is: given some problem to solve or some task to complete-in some context. Acquire the concepts and skills necessary to solve the problem or complete task as you go along doing what you have to do. It is a circular relationship. Task --> Concept Skills -->Task

» CTL is an approach to learning that is grounded in context, and connected to "real-world" situations. It provides opportunities for authentic assessment and individual reflection.

» CTL is drawing on a diverse array of contexts to enrich and illustrate content. E.g. workplace, communities, environment, etc.

» CTL is using the workplace or workplace experiences to promote education in the classroom.

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Definitions from other CTL Projects: Contextual Teaching & Learning is ...

» Contextual teaching and learning is a conception of teaching and learning that helps teachers relate subject matter content to real world situations and motivates students to make connections between knowledge and its applications to their lives as family members, citizens, and workers and engage in the hard work that learning requires. Contextual teaching and learning strategies:

  • emphasize problem-solving;
  • recognize the need for teaching and learning to occur in a variety of contexts such as home, community, and work sites;
  • teach students to monitor and direct their own learning so they become self-regulated learners;
  • anchor teaching in students diverse life-contexts;
  • encourage students to learn from each other and together; and
  • employ authentic assessment (Source

» Contextual Teaching and Learning emphasizes higher level thinking, knowledge transfer across academic disciplines, and collecting, analyzing and synthesizing information and data from multiple sources and viewpoints. Contextual Teaching is teaching that enables K-12 students to reinforce, expand and apply their academic knowledge and skills in a variety of in- school and out-of-school settings in order to solve simulated or real-world problems. Contextual Learning occurs when students apply and experience what is being taught referencing real problems associated with their roles and responsibilities as family members, citizens, students, and workers (Source:


» Contextual Teaching and Learning (CTL) helps us relate subject matter content to real world situations and motivate students to make connections between knowledge and its applications to their lives as family members, citizens, and workers and engage in the hard work that learning requires. Contextual teaching and learning strategies:

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The Department of Mathematics Education
University of Georgia