The benefits of explicit instruction

8 Jan

Kevin Donnelly makes the case:

“Based on this recent study of classrooms in the UK and China and a recent UK report titled What makes great teaching?, there is increasing evidence that these new-age education techniques, where teachers facilitate instead of teach and praise students on the basis that all must be winners, in open classrooms where what children learn is based on their immediate interests, lead to under-performance.”

The original report can be found here. These are the 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”’


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