Seven "Great" Teaching Methods Not Backed Up By Evidence

I’ve just read these articles online written by two professors from Durham University.

  • ‘Seven ‘great’ teaching methods not backed up by evidence’ (1)
  • ‘How to make teaching great’ (2)

The articles are based on a research paper for the Sutton Trust ‘What makes great teaching” (3)

Here’s a little quiz for you.

Seven of the following teaching practices have no evidence to back them up as ‘great’ teaching methods and six do.

Try and work out which is which.

  • Using praise lavishly
  • Allowing learners to discover key ideas for themselves
  • Grouping learners by ability
  • Re-reading and highlighting to revise and memorise
  • Addressing issues of confidence and low aspirations
  • Teaching to a learners preferred learning style e.g. kinaesthetic, visual, auditory
  • Active learners remember more than passive learners
  • Content knowledge by teachers
  • Quality of instruction
  • Relationships between teachers & students/teaching climate
  • Classroom management
  • Teacher beliefs e.g. about how children learn
  • Professional behaviours e.g. professional development, supporting colleagues and liaising with parents.

Which did you choose as the six components of good-quality teaching and which seven did you reject?

Apparently, the first seven on the list have no evidence to back them up as effective teaching methods, despite their popularity, and the last six do.

In fact the two components that have the strongest evidence for impact on student outcomes:

  • Content Knowledge – teachers who have a deep knowledge of the subject they are teaching and are able to communicate it effectively to students.
  • Quality of Instruction – teachers who are skilled in effective questioning & assessment, and who progressively introduce new skills and knowledge.

These articles make really interesting reading, and when I read articles like this I always reflect on my own teaching methods and practice. It’s interesting that when I think about the improvement in my children’s phonic screening check results (19% passed 2012, 100% passed 2014) I know it is because I made a real effort to improve my phonics teaching.

This is a summary of what I did:

  • Ensure my phonics teaching was very clearly structured so that the children progressively built their knowledge of the sounds alongside the skills of blending to read and segmenting to spell.
  • Giving children plenty of opportunities to practice their skills of reading and writing so that they were firmly embedded. This included using pseudo words to help children use the decoding skills they need to tackle any unfamiliar word.
  • Using phonetically decodable reading books as our reading scheme so that children have an opportunity to read their own books using the phonic knowledge and skills they have learnt in class.

The article on ‘How to make teaching great’ says in its conclusion ‘The way teachers learn about their own teaching can have a direct impact on student outcomes’. That has certainly proved to be true in my teaching of phonics.


  1. Higgins, S and Coe, R. ‘Seven ‘great’ teaching methods not backed up by evidence’: The Conversation. 31 October 2014
  2. Higgins, S and Coe, R. ‘How to make teaching great.’ The Conversation. 7th November 2014
  3. Coe, R, Aloisi, C, Higgins, S and Elliot Major, L. ‘What makes great teaching?

Review of the underpinning research via The Sutton Trust (article in October 2014).

Source by Barbara Townley

What do you think?

0 Points

Shared Parenting Business – 6 Top Tips to Support Shared Parenting After Separation

Small Business Management Consulting – The Importance of Consulting