Evidence based teachers network

On the suggested links page you’ll find a wealth of sites related to evidence-based education and research. One of the ones I’m subscribed to is the Evidence based teachers network which sends an email about once a month with some links to various articles. Two that tweaked my interest this month were:

1) One to try: Timing of feedback and praise
The simple idea of ‘two stars and a wish’ is not the best way to mix praise with feedback. When both happen together, the brain of the learner fixes on the praise. This mirrors the better-known finding that, if the student receives both a mark and a comment on their work, they focus on the mark.

The research suggests that the best sequence is: give the feedback on its own first; then give the praise later, perhaps when the improvement has been made.

The same is true of marks and feedback-comments: give the feedback first, then give marks once the improvement has been made.

2) Summarising – it’s No 2*
When learning new material, the brain process the detail and the big-picture separately, but both are needed. There is a tendency for the material of the course unit to be delivered at the level of detail with the teacher making the (unconscious) assumption that the big-picture will make itself in the student’s mind.

There are two methods in the ‘top-ten’ which reflect this: Advance Organisers show the student the big-picture at the start of the topic, while Summarising gets them to identify the main points later on. It is so high in the list is because there is such a huge difference between those who can summarise and those who struggle with it. The teaching of summarising seems to have lapsed from teaching: precis-writing used to be taught in school.

This skill needs to be taught and practiced – but the benefits, according to the evidence, are great.

*The ‘top-ten’ refers to the list create by the Colorado team under Robert Marzano published as “Classroom Instruction that Works”

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