A new report has reviewed all the research into what makes teaching effective. Popular teaching methods, such as lavishing praise on pupils and grouping students by ability, are not based on evidence and can harm student development, a report has found.
The Sutton Trust examined 200 pieces of research on what makes great teaching, concluding that some common practices have no grounding in research while other less popular approaches can be effective. The report found that the two most important elements of great teaching were the quality of instruction and how well a teacher knew their subject.
Different methods for evaluating teaching were also examined, including lesson observations and getting students to rate their teachers. All these methods were deemed useful, but the report said that they were also easy to get wrong and should not to be used in isolation.
The two factors with the strongest evidence of improving pupil attainment are:
- teachers’ content knowledge, including their ability to understand how students think about a subject and identify common misconceptions
- quality of instruction, which includes using strategies like effective questioning and the use of assessment
Specific practices which have good evidence of improving attainment include:
- challenging students to identify the reason why an activity is taking place in the lesson
- asking a large number of questions and checking the responses of all students
- spacing-out study or practice on a given topic, with gaps in between for forgetting
- making students take tests or generate answers, even before they have been taught the material
Common practices which are not supported by evidence include:
- using praise lavishly
- allowing learners to discover key ideas by themselves
- grouping students by ability
- presenting information to students based on their “preferred learning style”
To read the report: http://www.suttontrust.com/researcharchive/great-teaching/