What makes GREAT teaching?

6 Nov

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.

Key findings

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/

4 Responses to “What makes GREAT teaching?”

  1. martininkorea November 6, 2014 at 11:40 pm #

    Reblogged this on So, You Think You Can Teach ESL?.

  2. K. Renae P. November 7, 2014 at 1:49 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this research!

  3. rikidlt217 November 8, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    Reblogged this on Ricky De La Torre and commented:
    There are some really good ideas present in the key findings. While some of these may feel a bit common sense, it is always a good idea to remind ourselves of good practices and to check if we are actually using those ideas. As I read over the list, I look back over my own teaching to see if I use these ideas. One of my favorites is gaps for forgetting. My students often feel like the fully grasp an idea but when I do another activity to test their knowledge they fall short and suddenly they realize they may not know something as well as they thought they did. I find it a good way to prepare for the test.

    • laiaprincep November 9, 2014 at 1:10 am #

      Yes, it is always good to assess ourselves and see what we do well and what we could improve 🙂

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