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Why you should read: What does this look like in the classroom? By Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson

Written By: Tom Sherrington
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An examination of 10 major areas of teaching explored through interviews with experts.

The authors suggest that teachers do not need to be researchers, but they should be ‘research-informed’.

What is it about?

The book is an exploration of how teachers can make sense of education research so they can both defend themselves against having unevidenced ‘guff’ imposed on them, and invest their energy in ‘good bets’ – i.e. strategies with a strong chance of improving their students’ learning.

Each chapter takes a major theme and questions a pair of educationalists about how – from their experience and reading of the research – the big ideas manifest themselves in practice. Examples include:

  • Dylan Wiliam and Daisy Christodoulou on assessment, marking and feedback
  • Dianne Murphy and Alex Quigley on reading and literacy
  • Maggie Snowling and Jarlath O’Brien on special educational needs
  • Paul Kirschner and Yana Weinstein on memory and recall
  • Neelam Parmar and Jose Picardo on the use of technology.

Other chapters look at behaviour, motivation, learning myths, questioning and independent learning.

What are the main messages for teachers?

In the concluding chapter, the authors suggest that their interviews reveal that there is great deal of extraneous ‘noise’ in a typical classroom i.e. activities which are designed around ‘engagement’ and ‘performance’ rather than learning itself and that don’t make a difference.

They suggest that teachers should aim for a ‘streamlined classroom’ and present a model for it with six elements, drawn from the evidence reviewed in the book. An effective teacher is one who: reviews previous learning; checks for understanding; provides impactful feedback; creates a positive classroom climate; guides success; reduces cognitive load.

In addition to these specifics, the authors suggest that teachers do not need to be researchers, but they should be ‘research-informed’. This means they should know how to critique a piece of research, for example, asking questions about what baseline evidence exists and what counterfactuals were explored.

Top Tip

Try to prune back what you do. Focus on activities that help students acquire durable knowledge and always take care not to mistake performance in the moment with learning in the long-term.

Want to know more?

Hendrick, C and Macpherson, R (2017) What does this look like in the classroom? Bridging the gap between research and practice. John Catt Ltd.

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