What are characteristics of effective instruction?

Characteristics of Effective Instruction require teachers to understand essential concepts and skills; to identify the contributing factors affecting the desired outcome, and to utilize a variety of methods to teach and reinforce the desired concepts and skills. It includes providing access to the general education curriculum for all students. Teaching for learner differences can best be accomplished by engaging in a process which has teachers using student and instructional assessment data to make sound instructional decisions to meet the needs of individual students. (Iowa Core Curriculum: Iowa Department of Education)

Why utilize characteristics of effective instruction?

Current legislation requires that schools ensure high levels of learning for each and every students. Despite the ongoing debate that surrounds this legislation, DuFour, DuFour, Eaker and Karhanek (2004) acknowledge “the need for schools to move beyond pious mission statements pledging learning for all to begin the systematic effort to create procedures, policies, and programs that are aligned with that purpose.”

In order to meet the instructional needs of all learners, teachers must be skilled in using assessment tools to provide them with information about students’ proficiency levels, as well as to help them determine which essential skills a student must be explicitly taught in order to move closer to proficiency.

In addition, teachers must be knowledgeable about the current research base related to core, supplemental, intensive instruction, and must take guidance from the research base in how to structure instructional time with students for maximum efficiency and acceleration of learning.

Teachers must use differentiated instruction, which is instruction that meets a student’s academic or affective learning needs. This may occur within the core, supplemental or intensive instruction cycles. Differentiated instruction is essential to meet the needs of all learners and necessitates thoughtful planning of instructional tasks according to pacing, content, process, product and environment.

What is the research behind characteristics of effective instruction?

Student-centered Classrooms

Characteristic

“In student-centered classrooms students construct their own knowledge based on experiential, holistic, authentic, and challenging experiences. Teachers take what students want to learn and infuse all the skills, knowledge, and concepts that the curriculum requires. Teachers help students learn to think about their  own thinking and learning. Curriculum and assessment is centered on meaningful performances in real-world contexts. Classrooms are organized for collaboration. A student-centered classroom is a characteristic of Teaching through Problem Solving, Teaching through Inquiry, and Teaching through Inductive Thinking.”

Research

  • Bransford, John D., Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking, editors (1999). How People Learn Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
  • Darling-Hammond, Linda, et al. (2008). Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Donovan, Susan and John D. Bransford, editors. (2005). How Students Learn History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
  • Jones, Leo. (2007). The Student-Centered Classroom. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Press.
  • Tomlinson, Carol and Jane Jarvis, “Teaching Beyond the Book,” Educational Leadership, ASCD, September 2006.
  • Zemelman, Steven, Daniels, Harvey & Hyle, Arthur. (2005). Best Practice: Today’s Standards for Teaching & Learning in America’s Schools, 3rd Ed. New Hampshire: Heinemann.

Teaching for Understanding

Characteristic

One avenue to Deep Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge, Teaching for Understanding is leading students toward being able to do a variety of thought-provoking things with a topic, such as explaining, finding evidence in examples, generalizing, applying, making analogies, and representing the topic in new ways. Teachers aid students to make connections between prior knowledge and new knowledge to develop understanding of a concept. Teachers who teach for understanding 1) making learning a long-term, thinking-centered process, 2) provide for rich ongoing assessment, 3) support learning with powerful representations, 4) pay heed to developmental factors, 5) induct students into the discipline, and 6) teach for transfer.

Research

  • Blythe, T., & Perkins, D. (1998). Understanding Understanding. In T. Blythe (Ed.),  The Teaching for Understanding Guide (pp. 9-16). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Darling-Hammond, Linda, et al (2008). Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Gardner, H., & Boix Mansilla, V. (1994, February). Teaching For Understanding Within And Across The Disciplines. Educational Leadership, 51 (5), 14 – 18.
  • Perkins, D., (1993, Fall). Teaching for Understanding. American Educator: The Professional Journal of the American Federation Of Teachers; v17 n3, p 8, 28-35.
  • Wiske, M. S. (Ed.). (1998). Teaching For Understanding: Linking Research With Practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Assessment FOR Learning (Formative Assessment)

Characteristic

Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students as part of instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of core content. As assessment FOR learning, formative assessment practices provide students with clear learning targets, examples and models of strong and weak work, regular descriptive feedback, and the ability to self-assess, track learning, and set goals. (Adapted from Council of Chief State School Officers, FAST SCASS.) Assessment for Learning is a characteristic of Teaching through Problem Solving, Teaching through Inquiry, and Teaching through Inductive Thinking.

Research

  • Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 5(1), 7-74.
  • Black, P., & Wiliam, D., (1998). “Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards through Classroom Assessment.” Phi Delta Kappan, v80 n2 p139-44 Oct 1998.
  • Chappuis, J., (2005). “Helping Students Understand Assessment.” Educational Leadership, Nov2005, v63 i3, p39-43, 5p, 1 chart, 2bw.
  • Heritage, Margaret. “Formative Assessment: Who Do Teachers Need to Know and Do?” Phi Delta Kappan, v89 n2 p140-145 Oct 2007. 6p.
  • Heritage, Margaret (2008). “Learning Progressions: Supporting Instruction and Formative Assessment.” Washington D.C.: The Council of Chief State School Officers.
  • Natriello, G. (1987). The impact of evaluation processes on students. Educational Psychologist, 22, 155-175.
  • Popham, W.J. (2008). Transformative Assessment. Alexandria VA: ASCD.
  • Stiggins, R., (2007). “Assessment through the Student’s Eye.” Educational Leadership. May2007, v64, i8, p22-26, 5p.
  • Stiggins, R., (2007). “Five Assessment Myths and Their Consequences.” Education Week, v27, n8, p28-29 Oct 2007.
  • Stiggins, R., (2005). “From Formative Assessment To Assessment For Learning: A Path to Success in Standards-Based Schools.” Phi Delta Kappan, Dec. 2005, V87 i4, p324-328, 5p, 1bw.
  • “The Value of Formative Assessment.” The National Center for Fair and Open Testing Journal, Fair Test Examiner on the value of Formative Assessment.

Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum

Characteristic

Rigor and Relevance is represented by challenging content that is significant to a topic and includes authentic work. It involves original application of knowledge and skills to complex problems (construction of knowledge) rather than just routine uses of facts and procedures. It also entails the use of prior knowledge, the development of in-depth understanding, and the ability to develop and express ideas and findings through elaborated communication. It engages students in interpreting, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating concepts, and produces an authentic product (disciplined inquiry). The content is not just interesting to students, but involves particular intellectual challenge that when successfully met would have meaning to students beyond complying with teachers’ requirements and in contexts outside of the classroom.

Research

  • Newmann, f.M., (1992). Student Achievement in American Secondary Schools. New York, NY: Teacher College Press.
  • Newmann, F.M., B. M. King, and D. L. Charmichael, (2007). “Authentic Instruction and Assessment: Common Standards for Rigor and Relevance in Teaching Academic Subjects.” Des Moines, IA: Iowa Department of Education.
  • Rigor and Relevance Handbook (2002). Rexford, New York: International Center for Leadership in Education.

Teaching for Learner Differences

Characteristic

Teaching for Learner Differences requires teachers to understand the Iowa Core Curriculum core concepts and essential skills, identify the contributing factors affecting the desired outcome, and have a variety of methods to teach and reinforce the desired skills. It includes providing access to the general education curriculum through Universal Design for Learning (CAST) and Differentiated Instruction planning (Tomlinson), as well as, utilizing strategies and routines supported by the Department of Education (e.g. University of Kansas Strategic Instructional Model, Problem Based Instructional Tasks, Meaningful Distributed Practice, Learning Cycle, Assessment for Learning, Concept Oriented Reading, Question Answer Response, etc.) Teaching for Learner Differences can best be accomplished by engaging in the Instructional Decision Making (IDM) (multiple sources, see below) process which has teachers using student and instructional assessment data to make sound instructional decision to meet the needs of individual students.

Research

  • Borland, James H. (1989). Planning and Implementing Programs for the Gifted (Education and Psychology of the Gifted Series). New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Rose, David H. and Anne Meyer, editors (2006). A Practical Reader in Universal Design for Learning. Center for Applied special Technology (CAST), Harvard Education Press, Boston, MA.
  • Sugai, G. and Horner, R. (2008). Positive Behavior supports. Available Online: http://www.pbis.org/main.htm
  • Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. (2nd Ed.) Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
  • Torgesen, J. and Hosp, J. (2008). The Florida Center for Reading Research. Available Online: http://www.fcrr.org/
  • Vaughn, Sharon. (2008). Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts. The University of Austin, Texas. Available Online: http://www.texasreading.org/utcrla/