Teacher feedback is crutial on their work and are not receiving enough, which is having a knock-on effect on student performance, according to new research sponsored by Cambridge International.
The Great Teaching Toolkit: Evidence Review, authored by Professor Rob Coe and colleagues from UK-based research organisation Evidence Based Education, sets out four key priorities that teachers should focus on if they want their students to learn more.
Based on reviews of hundreds of existing research studies and frameworks of effective teaching, the report highlights four key ‘dimensions’ that can help teachers improve their practice. These are to:
- Understand the content they are teaching and how it is learnt
- Create a supportive environment for learning
- Manage the classroom to maximise the opportunity to learn
- Present content, activities and interactions that activate their students’ thinking.
The key to great teaching is to have all four elements interacting, and to remove barriers that are preventing teachers from being able to create these optimal conditions, such as requiring them to teach unfamiliar subjects.
While many teachers and school leaders want to improve their practice, it’s not always easy to know where to start. With school resources so precious and budgets stretched, many are asking how they should prioritise professional development and what the best bets to focus on to make the most difference to students are.
This is exactly what Professor Coe and his team aimed to pinpoint with this review, which highlights the common areas that have been proven again and again, around the world, to really have the most potential to transform learning.
‘When great teachers want their students to learn complex tasks, they don’t only describe what those tasks look like,’ said Professor Coe.
‘They break those tasks down into small chunks, support their learners and provide constant feedback. If we want teachers to learn how to do great teaching, we need to do more than just describe what that looks like – we need to give them constant feedback and a practical toolkit. This review is the foundation for providing teachers with feedback on their own development.
‘If we get professional development right, the impact it can have on the culture of a school and the quality of learning is transformational.’
Dr Tristian Stobie, Director, Curriculum and Qualifications Development at Cambridge International, said: ‘Teacher autonomy, creativity and trust have been eroded in some educational systems by a drive toward compliance. Feedback to teachers has not been as supportive and informative as it should be to give them control and ownership over their professional development and practice.
‘Right now, the educational world is in turmoil caused by the Covid-19 crisis. Teachers have had to learn quickly to adapt, teach online and support learners in new ways. In such a climate, the evidence-based insights provided in the Great Teaching Toolkit: Evidence Review are even more significant. Its universal and timely principles will be an invaluable resource to teachers and schools around the world.
‘The principles and practices outlined in the report reflect the principles Cambridge International uses in developing our own professional development services to schools, with the aim of helping teachers become confident, responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged.
‘The Review summarises a lot of existing evidence. We hope that a systematic, authoritative and accessible presentation can give teachers a clear overview of the things that make a difference to student learning. But it is also the foundation of a system of feedback that will support teachers in developing their practice, whatever the phases, subjects or types of school they teach in.’
EBE is following on from this report with the Great Teaching Toolkit, a project to provide teachers with evidence-informed guidance and personalised diagnostic feedback for their long-term professional development.
The Great Teaching Toolkit Evidence Review can be downloaded on the Cambridge International website here: https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/support-and-training-for-schools/teaching-cambridge-at-your-school/great-teaching-toolkit/.