What is Worth Reading for Teachers Interested in Research?
By: Professor Robert Coe on Jun 22, 2016 11:55:00 AM
8 min read
I give a fair number of talks to groups of teachers and school leaders on the subject of connecting educational research with their practice. Often I will mention a particular book, such as John Hattie’s Visible Learning, Graham Nuthall’s Hidden Lives of Learners or Dylan Wiliam’s Embedded Formative Assessment, and ask if anyone has read it. I have learnt that it is rare for more than a handful of my audience to say yes; I confess I am repeatedly disappointed by this. Not a scientific sample or robust methodology, I know, but my guess would be that most teachers would never choose to read a book on education and almost none could say they have read more than one such book a year during the time they have been practising.
Why does it matter? Isn’t teaching something you just learn by doing it, and by professional interactions with other teachers? Well, no, actually we know that it isn’t (from research, incidentally, eg Robinson et al – see below). Compare this with other professions, such as medicine, where reading about research is a standard expectation. Or look at the number of decisions and practices that are widespread in schools but directly opposed by the best available research evidence (Coe et al 2014 – see below).
Sometimes I ask my audience what stops them reading about education. Of course they say lack of time, but I am brutally unsympathetic towards this excuse: you make time for what is important. Those who seem most likely to be persuadable sometimes say they don’t know where to start, or that they have had bad experiences of reading educational research which is unfailingly impenetrable, inaccessible and irrelevant.
So here is my list of sources of educational research for teachers: things that are worth reading. These are all relevant to teaching and/or school leadership and present high-quality, sound research. Most are written for a teacher audience, ie not too technical, jargon-filled or unnecessarily complex. They may be more likely to challenge, provoke and inform than immediately inspire: more balanced meal than fast food. But hopefully something nutritious to chew on, digest and enjoy.
Online & freely available
- Coe, R., Aloisi, C., Higgins, S. and Elliot Major, L. (2014) ‘What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research’. Sutton Trust, October 2014 http://www.suttontrust.com/researcharchive/great-teaching/
- Rosenshine, B. (2012) Principles of Instruction: Research based principles that all teachers should know. American Educator, Spring 2012. https://www.teachertoolkit.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Principles-of-Insruction-Rosenshine.pdf
- Rosenshine, B. (2010) Principles of Instruction. International Academy of Education, UNESCO. Geneva: International Bureau of Education. http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Educational_Practices/EdPractices_21.pdf
- Marzano, R. J., Gaddy, B. B., & Dean, C. (2000). What Works in Classroom Instruction. http://www.at-udl.com/library_bkup/DATA/Misc%20PDF's/whatworks.pdf
- Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) New South Wales (2014) What works best: Evidence-based practices to help improve NSW student performance http://www.cese.nsw.gov.au/images/stories/PDF/what_works_best.pdf
- Creemers, B. P. M., & Kyriakides, L. (2006). Critical analysis of the current approaches to modelling educational effectiveness: The Importance of Establishing a Dynamic Model. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 17, 347–366. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09243450600697242
Impact of interventions
- Higgins, S., Katsipataki, M., Kokotsaki, D., Coleman, R., Major, L.E., & Coe, R. (2013). The Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit. London: Education Endowment Foundation. [Available at http://www.educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/toolkit]
- Best Evidence Encyclopedia http://www.bestevidence.org/
- What Works Clearinghouse http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/
How learning happens
- Deans for Impact (2015). The Science of Learning. Austin, TX: Deans for Impact. https://deansforimpact.org/resources/the-science-of-learning/
- Dunlosky, J. (2013). Strengthening the Student Toolbox: Study Strategies to Boost Learning. American Educator, 37(3), 12-21. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1021069.pdf
- American Psychological Association, Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education. (2015). Top 20 principles from psychology for preK–12 teaching and learning. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ed/schools/cpse/top-twenty-principles.pdf
- Laura Pomerance, Julie Greenberg and Kate Walsh (2016) Learning about Learning: What every new teacher needs to know. National Council on Teacher Quality http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Learning_About_Learning_Report
- Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school: Expanded edition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. https://www.desu.edu/sites/flagship/files/document/16/how_people_learn_book.pdf
- Bjork, E. L., & Bjork, R. A. (2011). Making things hard on yourself, but in a good way: Creating desirable difficulties to enhance learning. In M.A. Gernsbacher, et al (Ed) Psychology and the real world: Essays illustrating fundamental contributions to society, New York: Worth Publishers (p56-64). [Available at https://bjorklab.psych.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2016/04/EBjork_RBjork_2011.pdf]
- Pashler, H., Bain, P. M., Bottge, B. A., Graesser, A., Koedinger, K., McDaniel, M., & Metcalfe, J. (2007). Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning. IES Practice Guide. NCER 2007-2004. National Center for Education Research. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498555.pdf
- Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4-58. http://www.indiana.edu/~pcl/rgoldsto/courses/dunloskyimprovinglearning.pdf
Teachers’ professional development and learning
- Cordingley, P., Higgins, S., Greany, T., Buckler, N., Coles-Jordan, D., Crisp, B., Saunders, L., Coe, R. (2015) Developing Great Teaching: Lessons from the international reviews into effective professional development. Teacher Development Trust. http://tdtrust.org/about/dgt/
- Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H. & Fung, I. (2007) Teacher professional learning and development: Best evidence synthesis iteration. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education. http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/series/2515/15341
School improvement and leadership
- Robinson, V., Hohepa, M., and Lloyd, C. (2009) School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why. Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES). New Zealand Ministry of Education http://www.curee.co.uk/files/publication/1260453707/Robinson%20Summary%20Extended%20Version.pdf
- Herman, R., Dawson, P., Dee, T., Greene, J., Maynard, R., Redding, S., and Darwin, M. (2008). Turning Around Chronically Low-Performing Schools: A practice guide (NCEE #2008-4020). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/PracticeGuide.aspx?sid=7 .
- Scheerens, J. (2014) What is Effective Schooling? A review of current thought and practice. International Baccalaureate Organization. https://www.ibo.org/research/curriculum-research/cross-programme/what-is-effective-schooling-a-review-of-current-thought-and-practice-2014/
Just a small selection of my favourites here, with something for everyone
- Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it stick. Harvard University Press.
- Clark, R. C. (2015) Evidence-Based Training Methods: A guide for training professionals (2nd Edn). ATD Press
- Didau, D. (2015). What if everything you knew about education was wrong? Crown House Publishing.
- Hattie, J. (2009) Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Abingdon: Routledge.
- Nuthall, G. (2007). The hidden lives of learners. Wellington: Nzcer Press.
- Petty, G. (2009). Evidence-based teaching: A practical approach. Nelson Thornes.
- Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Solution Tree Press.
- Willingham, D. T. (2009). Why don't students like school: A cognitive scientist answers questions about how the mind works and what it means for the classroom. John Wiley & Sons.
There are hundreds of excellent blogs written by teachers and many of my favourites are not on this list, but I have tried to limit it to ten that regularly present sound educational research and connect it with school practice.
- Evidence into Practice: Nick Rose @Nick_J_Rose https://evidenceintopractice.wordpress.com/
- Evidence-Based Educational Leadership: Gary Jones @DrGaryJones http://evidencebasededucationalleadership.blogspot.co.uk/
- Filling the Pail: Greg Ashman @greg_ashman https://gregashman.wordpress.com/
- Huntington Learning Hub: Alex Quigley @HuntingtonLHub https://www.huntingtonlearninghub.com/
- Improving Teaching: Harry Fletcher-Wood @HFletcherWood https://improvingteaching.co.uk/
- Learning Scientists: Megan Smith, Yana Weinstein, Cindy Wooldridge @AceThatTest http://www.learningscientists.org/blog/
- Learning Spy: David Didau @learningspy http://www.learningspy.co.uk/
- Reading all the Books: Jo Facer @jo_facer https://readingallthebooks.com/
- Science and Education: Daniel Willingham @DTWillingham http://www.danielwillingham.com/daniel-willingham-science-and-education-blog
- The Wing to Heaven: Daisy Christodoulou @DaisyChristo https://thewingtoheaven.wordpress.com/
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