Meaning and 10 Differences/Similarities between Teaching Aids and Instructional Materials

Meaning and 10 Differences/Similarities between Teaching Aids and Instructional Materials


In the realm of education, the utilization of teaching aids and instructional materials plays a pivotal role in enhancing the teaching and learning experience. These tools are not mere supplements; rather, they are essential components that contribute to the overall effectiveness of educational processes. This essay delves into the importance of teaching aids and instructional materials, exploring their various types, benefits, and the impact they have on students’ comprehension and retention.

As classroom teachers, it is essential that we become conversant with the type of instructional materials, which can be used in any teaching/ learning situations. Instructional materials as it is said are synonymous with what we call ‘teaching aids’ here in Nigeria. Instructional materials constitute alternative channels of communication, which a teacher can use to convey more vividly instructional information to learners.

They represent a range of materials which can be used to ‘extend the range of vicarious experience’ of learners in a teaching-learning situation. Recently, in Nigeria, Educationists have realized the importance of these instructional materials for effective classroom teaching. Hence in 1945 and in 1985, the federal ministry of Education organized an exhibition of improvised materials by instructional developers all over the federation. A major aim of these exhibitions was to identify materials, which teachers have improvised as preclude hopefully, to their further refinement through the process of formative evaluation.

Though a center for educational technology has sprung up in colleges of education and universities all over the country, it is doubtful if practicing teachers in Nigeria are aware of procedures for selecting appropriate instructional materials.

What is Instructional Material?

According to Harrison (2023), Instructional materials refer to those alternative channels of communication, which a classroom teacher can use to concretize a concept during teaching and learning process. Traditionally, classroom teachers have relied heavily on the ‘talk-chalk’ method during their teaching. But recently, instructional materials help to provide variations in the ways in which messages are sent across.  In using instructional materials teachers and students do not only extend the range of sense organs we use but also extend the range of materials used for convening the same message through the same organ. For instance, in teaching a topic a teacher can manipulate real objects or use their stimulators.

What are Teaching Aids?   

According to Harrison (2023), Teaching aids are materials or tools that are used by teachers to enhance the teaching and learning process. They can be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic in nature, and can be used to reinforce a concept, clarify a complex idea, or stimulate interest in a particular subject. Teaching aids are more connected to the teacher because it aids him or her in passing knowledge easily to the pupils.

Instructional materials, therefore, constitute the media of exchange through which a message transaction is facilitated between a source and a receiver. In addition to extending the range of materials that can be used to convey the same instructional message to learners instructional materials also facilitate the ‘process’ nature of communication. In this passage, the process nature of communication implies that both the source and the receiver of a message are actively involved in a communication encounter. Infarct, it means that both the receiver and the source share and exchange ideas, feelings in any communication (Tyler, 1987, Dike 1989).

Differences between Teaching Aids and Instructional Materials

(1) Teaching aids are large enough to be seen by the students for whom they are used WHILE the size of the instructional material is big enough to be seen by the farthest students in the classroom… Consider also the font size and font style to be used.

(2) Teaching aids are meaningful and they always stand to serve a useful purpose WHILE in instructional material, the color! Students are more interested in those materials which are colorful and beautiful. Remember that most students are more attracted to bright colors because it easily catches the student’s attention and facilitate the learning process.

(3) Teaching aids are up to the mark and up to date in every respect WHILE in instructional material, the durability! Instructional materials are not made for one session only they must last if possible until lifetime so that it can be reused. See to it that it can stand for a longer duration of time so that the effort and money you render to have it will not be lost in just o one glimpse or snap.

(4) Teaching aids are simple, cheap and may be improvised WHILE in instructional material, the economy! Consider also the salary of the teacher, his expenses in making those instructional materials. They can use their resourcefulness and creativity to produce their own material. If possible use the cheaper things and making your materials so that it is not a burden on your part

(5) Teaching aids are accurate and realistic WHILE in instructional material, It’s portability Your materials must be easy to handle and carry so that it is more convenient for your part to catty it wherever you will teach. Imagine if you’re teaching in the fourth floor and your instructional material is too heavy and big it is not convenient for you to have it.

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(6) Teaching aids are according to the mental level of the learners WHILE in instructional material, the relativity of course, it must be related to the topic or lesson you are into. Remember that the teacher uses instructional materials to ease the burden of teaching and so that student will understand the subject better

(7) Their purpose may be informative but it is not just entertainment WHILE in instructional material, it must be unique Students want to have things which make them curious about it. Let them manipulate the material to evaluate how they learn through their own.

(8) Teaching aids help in realization of stipulated learning objects WHILE in instructional material, have a high degree of interest for the learner; for they offer a reality of experience, which stimulates self-activity on the part of pupils.

(9) Teaching aids are really very useful and can be used in many lessons and at different class levels WHILE in instructional material, Instructional materials develop a continuity of thought, this is especially true of motion pictures, as they provide experiences not, easily obtained through other materials and contribute to the efficiency, department, and variety of learning

(10) Teaching aids are useful for supplementing the teaching process but they cannot replace the teacher WHILE in instructional material, Instructional materials are easily carried from one class to another


Graphic materials: – This represents these charts, graphs, posters and diagrams, cartoons, comics, maps and globes which we draw on a cardboard paper or on a piece of cloth and present to our learners to help them visualize what we have been laboring so hard o explain verbally. Graphic materials belong to the finals of two- dimensional material and proportional relationships that may exist among variables in a phenomenon. Graphic materials are used to compress information, to focus and captivate attention, to vary stimuli presented and as an aid to recall.

Graphic materials when properly produced can help in attaining all processes in the information processing model of learning as well as serve as an avenue for applying principles from other learning theories.

Three – Dimensional Materials:- They are different from charts and graphs which are illustration of two- dimensional materials because of the incorporation of a third element- department. Thus, whereas graphs and charts embrace the width and height of a visualized object, a three-dimensional embraces this third element department, a feature that makes the three- dimensional material a replica of the real thing. Different types of three-dimensional materials exist, namely: Models and mock-ups, realia, specimen, kits, and dioramas-which is the creation of a scene in an event. Ten Differences And Similarities Between Teaching Aids And Instructional Materials

Still pictures:- This refers to flat opaque pictures which we take during festivals or when we are commemorating an event. They also refer to pictures we find in journals and magazines. They are called still pictures because in admiring them, we hold them in our hands or place them on a surface, which is we do not view them with the aid of a projector, as is the case with motion pictures or still projected pictures. Like graphic materials, still pictures belong to the group of two -dimensional materials.

Still projected pictures:- Still projected pictures is a class of instructional materials which our learners may not be familiar with. Therefore in order to assist then to better understand what is meant by still projected pictures, is the negative format. Still projected pictures can be projected with a projector. The projector has powerful electronic bulbs, which throw light on to the image on the negative, and the image is finally projected on to a screen or wall.

Motion pictures:- Motion pictures are distinct from the other types of pictures because of the speed at which they are projected. It is this speed of projection that intact gives the impression of motion. Motion pictures range from the 8 mm standard format to 8 mm supper and finally to the 16 mm format. The width of the film thus constitutes a basis for classifying them. Motion pictures films have sprocket holes along both edges or along only one edge. The presence of sprocket holes facilitates projection.

Audio Materials:- This is a class name for tape recordings and discs. A disc or record as it is popularly called here is a round and flat acetate containing grooves, which produces sound vibrations through the action of a needled. Discs usually come in different sizes and play at different speeds.

Examples of Teaching Aids     
  1. Whiteboards and markers: Whiteboards and markers are a common teaching aid used in classrooms and other learning environments. A whiteboard is a smooth, glossy surface that can be written on with dry-erase markers, which can be easily erased with a cloth or eraser
  2. Chalkboards and chalk: Chalkboards and chalk are traditional teaching aids that have been used for many years in classrooms. A chalkboard is a flat surface that can be written on with chalk, which is a soft, white stick made of compressed gypsum or calcium carbonate
  3. Overhead projectors and transparencies: Overhead projectors and transparencies are another common teaching aid that has been widely used in classrooms. An overhead projector is a device that projects images onto a screen or wall from a transparent film or sheet, called a transparency, that has been placed on the projector’s surface.
  4. Computer projectors and PowerPoint presentations: Computer projectors and PowerPoint presentations have become increasingly popular as teaching aids in recent years. A computer projector is a device that projects the images from a computer onto a screen or wall, allowing the teacher to display text, images, and videos to the class. PowerPoint is a software program developed by Microsoft that allows users to create multimedia presentations.
  5. Videos and DVDs: Videos and DVDs are another common teaching aid used in classrooms and other learning environments. They can be used to present visual and auditory content to students, making the learning experience more engaging and memorable.
  6. Charts and graphs: Charts and graphs are commonly used visual aids in teaching, particularly in subjects such as math, science, and social studies. Charts and graphs can be used to represent data, trends, and relationships in a visually appealing and easy-to-understand format
  7. Flashcards and posters: Flashcards and posters are commonly used teaching aids in classrooms, particularly in language learning and early childhood education. Flashcards are small cards with information on them that can be used to teach vocabulary, grammar, and other concepts. Posters are larger visuals that can be used to display information and reinforce concepts.
  8. Models and manipulatives: Models and manipulatives are teaching aids that provide a hands-on approach to learning. Models are three-dimensional representations of objects, while manipulatives are objects that can be physically manipulated by learners. These teaching aids can be used in a variety of subjects, such as science, math, and art.
  9. Interactive whiteboards: Interactive whiteboards are an advanced form of traditional whiteboards that allow for a more interactive and engaging learning experience. They are electronic displays that can be connected to a computer or tablet, and allow users to interact with digital content using a special pen or their fingers.
  10. Audio recordings and music: Audio recordings and music are commonly used teaching aids in classrooms and other learning environments. They can be used to present information and reinforce concepts in a way that is engaging and memorable for students. 
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Examples of instructional materials
  1. Handouts and worksheets: Handouts and worksheets are commonly used teaching aids in classrooms, particularly in subjects such as math, language, and social studies. Handouts are sheets of paper with information or instructions on them that are distributed to students, while worksheets are similar but include exercises or activities to reinforce concepts.
  2. Online resources and e-books: Online resources and e-books are increasingly popular teaching aids that have become widely used in classrooms and other learning environments. Online resources can include websites, videos, interactive simulations, and online games, while e-books are electronic versions of printed books that can be accessed on computers, tablets, or e-readers.
  3. Interactive multimedia programs and simulations: These are advanced teaching aids and instructional material that provide an immersive and engaging learning experience. They are digital programs that combine text, images, video, and interactive elements to teach concepts and reinforce learning. Simulations are specifically designed to replicate real-world situations or processes in a controlled and safe environment.
  4. Learning management systems and online courses: These are modern teaching aids that provide an online platform for delivering educational content and managing student progress. LMSs can be used to deliver and manage traditional classroom-based courses, as well as fully online courses.
  5. Games and puzzles: These are another type of instructional that can be used to make learning more enjoyable and interactive. Games are activities that involve competition, while puzzles are activities that require problem-solving skills. They can be used in a variety of subjects, such as math, language, and social studies.
  6. Manipulatives and models: These are methods that aid teaching especially in the area of mathematics. This is an instructional material provide a hands-on approach to learning. Manipulatives are objects that can be physically manipulated by learners, while models are three-dimensional representations of objects.
  7. Visual aids and diagrams: This is an instructional material that provide a visual representation of information and concepts. They can help students understand complex information and make connections between ideas. Visual aids can include posters, charts, graphs, and diagrams, while diagrams can be used in subjects such as science, math, and language arts.
  8. Real-life objects and artifacts: This instructional material which also serves as a teaching aid helps bring the subject matter to life and make it more tangible for students. They can be used to provide a real-world context for learning and to help students understand the practical applications of what they are learning. Real-life objects can include items such as historical artifacts, natural specimens, and scientific instruments, while artifacts can be used in subjects such as social studies, science, and art.
  9. Audio recordings and podcasts: These are teaching aids and instructional materials for teachers that provide an auditory approach to learning. They can be used to present information and reinforce concepts in a way that is engaging and memorable for students. Audio recordings can include lectures, interviews, and storytelling, while podcasts are digital audio files that can be downloaded and listened to at any time.

Types of Teaching Aids and Instructional Materials


  1. Visual Aids: Visual aids, such as charts, graphs, diagrams, and multimedia presentations, are powerful tools for enhancing the visual appeal of lessons. They cater to diverse learning styles and help in clarifying complex ideas through visual representation. 
  1. Audiovisual Aids: Incorporating audio and video elements in teaching, including educational videos, podcasts, and recorded lectures, engages auditory and visual senses simultaneously, promoting a multisensory learning experience.
  1. Interactive Aids: Tools like interactive whiteboards, smart tablets, and educational apps encourage active student participation. They transform passive learning into an interactive process, fostering engagement and collaboration in the classroom. 
  1. Printed Materials: Traditional printed materials like textbooks, workbooks, handouts, and newspapers remain foundational resources in education. They provide students with tangible materials that they can revisit for reinforcement and reference. 
  1. Models and Samples: Physical models, specimens, and samples are particularly valuable in subjects like science and geography. They provide a tactile experience, allowing students to explore concepts through hands-on activities.

The Pedagogical Significance of Teaching Aids and Instructional Materials

  1. Addressing Diverse Learning Styles

Students have distinct learning preferences and styles. Some are visual learners, while others grasp concepts better through auditory or kinesthetic means. Teaching aids cater to this diversity by presenting information in various formats, ensuring that educators can reach every student effectively.

  1. Facilitating Conceptual Clarity

Abstract concepts can be challenging to grasp without concrete examples. Instructional materials provide tangible instances that students can relate to, fostering a clearer understanding of theoretical ideas. Whether through diagrams, experiments, or real-life scenarios, these tools serve as bridges between theory and application.

  1. Enhancing Retention and Recall

Studies consistently show that the combination of visual aids with verbal information leads to better retention and recall. When students receive information through multiple sensory channels, it strengthens memory traces, making it easier for them to retrieve and apply knowledge later on.

  1. Fostering Active Engagement

Teaching aids and instructional materials promote active learning. Interactive tools encourage students to participate, ask questions, and collaborate with peers. This shifts the learning paradigm from a passive reception of information to an active process of exploration and discovery.

Benefits of Teaching Aids and Instructional Materials

  1. Improved Comprehension and Conceptual Clarity

One of the primary benefits of teaching aids is their ability to enhance comprehension. Visual aids, in particular, simplify complex concepts and make abstract ideas more tangible. Whether it’s a graph illustrating a mathematical concept or a diagram explaining a biological process, these aids provide clarity and facilitate a deeper understanding.

  1. Increased Motivation and Interest

Engaging instructional materials capture students’ attention and foster interest in the subject matter. For instance, a history lesson supplemented with multimedia presentations or a science experiment with hands-on activities can ignite curiosity and motivation, making learning more enjoyable.

  1. Catering to Varied Learning Styles

Every student has a unique learning style. Some grasp information better through visuals, while others prefer hands-on experiences. Teaching aids and materials acknowledge and accommodate these differences, creating a more inclusive learning environment that caters to the diverse needs of students.

  1. Reinforcement and Practice

Instructional materials provide opportunities for reinforcement and practice. Worksheets, quizzes, and interactive software allow students to apply what they have learned, reinforcing key concepts and helping to solidify their understanding through active practice.

Challenges and Considerations in Using Teaching Aids and Instructional Materials

  1. Accessibility and Equity

While teaching aids can greatly enhance the learning experience, challenges related to accessibility and equity may arise. Not all schools or students have equal access to technology or a variety of instructional materials. Addressing these disparities is crucial to ensure that all students benefit from a rich and diverse learning environment.

  1. Proper Integration into Lesson Plans

Effectively integrating teaching aids into lesson plans requires careful consideration. Educators must align these tools with learning objectives and ensure they enhance, rather than distract from, the educational experience. Training and professional development opportunities can help teachers optimize the use of teaching aids.

  1. Overreliance and Distraction

There is a risk of overreliance on teaching aids, which can lead to passive learning if not used judiciously. Overwhelming students with too many visuals or multimedia presentations may detract from the core content of the lesson. Striking a balance between the use of teaching aids and direct instruction is essential.

  1. Maintenance and Upkeep

In the case of physical materials and equipment, maintenance is a practical consideration. Ensuring that models, projectors, and other tools are in good working condition is crucial for a seamless teaching and learning experience. Budget constraints and resource allocation are key factors in addressing these concerns.

Emerging Trends and Innovations in Teaching Aids

  1. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Advancements in technology have brought about virtual and augmented reality tools that offer immersive learning experiences. Virtual field trips, simulated experiments, and interactive 3D models contribute to a more dynamic and engaging educational environment.

  1. Gamification

Gamification involves incorporating game elements into educational activities. Educational games and interactive simulations make learning enjoyable and can enhance motivation and participation among students. They also provide instant feedback, allowing for a personalized learning experience.

  1. Open Educational Resources (OER)

The digital age has given rise to open educational resources, which are freely accessible, openly licensed materials that can be used for teaching, learning, and research. OERs contribute to the democratization of education by providing educators with a wealth of resources that can be adapted to suit their specific needs.

  1. Adaptive Learning Platforms

Adaptive learning platforms use data analytics and artificial intelligence to personalize the learning experience for individual students. These platforms assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses, tailoring content to address their specific needs and pace of learning.


In conclusion, teaching aids and instructional materials are indispensable components of a modern and effective education system. From the traditional chalkboard to cutting-edge virtual reality simulations, these tools play a crucial role in enhancing comprehension, fostering engagement, and catering to diverse learning styles.

While challenges exist, ongoing advancements in technology and pedagogical approaches continue to shape the landscape of teaching aids, ensuring that educators have a rich array of resources to create dynamic and meaningful learning experiences for their students. As we look to the future, the integration of innovative tools and the commitment to addressing accessibility and equity issues will further contribute to the transformative power of teaching aids and instructional materials in education.


Dike, H. I. (1989); Strategies for producing instructional materials, 1st edition, 1989

Durkin, D. (1993) Teaching them to /?eac/(6*h Ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (1977, 1981, 2004) National Policy on Education, Lagos/Abuja, NERDC

Gbamanja, SPT (1990). Essentials of curriculum and instruction theory and practice. 1 st Edition, 1990.

Harriso, Inyang (2023) Impacts of maker technologies on classroom learning outcomes: A mixed methods explanatory study. The Journal of Educational Research, 116:4, 198-205, DOI: 10.1080/00220671.2023.2239185

Mkpa, A. Mkpa (1987). Curriculum development and implementation 1st edition; 1987.

Tyler, Ralph. W. (1986); Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. 7th edition.

Mr. Harrison

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