These Evidence-Based Learning Strategies Are Set To Transform The Classroom
In a crisis like the pandemic, the world's ability to innovate has been tested. So far, we've found ways to pull through — and many of the tactics we’ve used have worked so well they're bound to be used even in the post-COVID world.
For example, remote working has afforded employees more flexibility and productivity. Meanwhile, telemedicine has made healthcare cheaper and more accessible to patients. However, the same cannot be said for distance learning. Though this method was necessary to keep schools running, a 2021 study published by the Government found that it caused British pupils to incur learning losses in subjects ranging from maths to reading. As schools celebrate the anniversary of their reopening, they continue to struggle in closing the gaps these losses created.
Fortunately, our scientific advances mean we can use evidence-based learning strategies to streamline the process. First introduced by British academic David Hargreaves in 1996, the evidence-based learning movement merges theory and practice to improve learning outcomes. Below we discuss a few of the strategies educators can use to transform learning in the post-pandemic era.
Show and tell
A class needs not just to learn a topic, but know why it’s useful. Providing clear lesson goals can clarify its importance to pupils, and highlight its key takeaways. Step-by-step demonstrations can further show them exactly how to reach those expectations. In maths, doing the first problem in a set with the class before having them do the rest can teach them the strategies they need to know. Visual tools like flow charts can highlight why and how an important historical event happened instead of focusing on memorising dates. By consistently connecting each point back to your lesson goals, pupils will better grasp what they're supposed to learn.
Fluency-oriented reading instruction (FORI)
FORI helps improve reading fluency and comprehension by having pupils read the same text in different modalities. First, allow pupils to choose what to read. In a 2021 Edutopia article titled The Importance of Student Choice Across All Grade Levels, English teacher Brian Sztabnik found that doing so in his New York high school increased motivation, engagement, and overall learning outcomes. You can then go into some strategies like creating productive group activities. Choral or partner reading can prevent stigmatising a pupil by having them read to the class. Meanwhile, we’ve previously mentioned on our blog that ear reading — or providing your class with audiobooks — can similarly increase engagement while helping those who struggle reading in traditional formats.
The majority of today's curricula focuses on teaching a certain number of topics each year. But are pupils really learning, or do they forget lessons after they’re tested? Everyone learns at a different pace so you must check for understanding after each lesson by allowing pupils to submit questions anonymously. Providing multiple opportunities for practice can give them more time to grasp lessons, as well. Finally, vary the time it takes for each pupil to fully understand a topic. Though you may be dealing with time constraints on your lesson plans, doing this even in the slightest degree can have a positive impact.
Extensive analysis and feedback
Feedback makes it easier for pupils to find and work on points of improvement, so always offer that additional guidance when you can. With Big Data, you no longer have to discern that a child is struggling with a lesson. Instead, data analytics tools can automatically scan learning outcomes and detect areas pupils need to work on. This can be particularly useful for helping those with learning disabilities or those who are learning English as a second language.
EdTech expert New Globe exemplifies this through its EKOEXCEL initiative. Launched in collaboration with Nigeria's Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, the programme has seen marked improvements in pupil attendance, reading fluency, and numeracy skills. By using digital methods, teachers have been able to personalise their approach even more, compared to traditional in-classroom methods. It’s a trend that is being implemented in UK education.
European researchers have confirmed in a 2021 ECNU Review of Education article that evidence-based learning strategies are crucial to moving education forward — but awareness around its benefits is lacking. Hopefully, this article helps these strategies reach more classrooms and transforms post-COVID education for the better.
At Listening Books, we believe that audiobooks and schools are a match made in Heaven! That’s why we record, produce and publish lots of educational titles in-house as part of our Sound Learning project. We also offer special memberships to our audiobook lending service for schools, so that students can access our entire range of children’s books for leisure and study, both at home and at school. Click here to find out more about membership for your school.
Article written by edtech blogger Lucille Charlotte. Edited by Emily Pye.