2018-06-08

Evidence-informed teaching: Articulating the ‘why’ of classroom practice

Cat Scutt, Director of Education and Research at the Chartered College of Teaching, shares insights on what evidence informed teaching actually means for teachers in the classroom. 

Lately, the idea that teaching should be an evidence-informed profession seems to be everywhere. But what does this actually mean for teachers’ classroom practice and, most importantly, for students’ learning? Is being an evidence-informed teacher just another trend that will, ultimately, be short-lived?

The core premise of evidence-informed teaching is that decisions made by teachers to support student learning should be informed by the best available evidence on ‘what works’ in education rather than on ‘hunches’ or long-established practices. By drawing on evidence, teachers’ practice, and in turn, students’ outcomes, can then be improved.

Critically, engaging with research should not just be about introducing new, effective approaches to teaching, learning and assessment, but also about the identification and rejection of existing, ineffective practices – for example, differentiating activities to cater to students’ so-called ‘learning styles’.  In this way, teacher workload can also be reduced.

Evidence will not provide a silver bullet, though, and it is only through a teacher’s professional expertise and experience that they can make judgments about the right approaches for their own specific context – using research evidence to inform these decisions. Supporting teachers to engage with research and be able to explain both what is happening in their classrooms, and why, can thus be part of a move to provide teachers with greater professional knowledge, confidence and autonomy – something that lies at the heart of the vision of the Chartered College of Teaching.

There are an increasing number of organisations helping to build an evidence-informed teaching profession. The EEF provide useful evaluation, review and aggregations of research, and through their Research Schools are able to support schools in implementing evidence-informed practices, whilst the Institute for Effective Education’s Best Evidence in Brief newsletter provides valuable summaries of new research. researchEd conferences continue to grow, bringing together evidence enthusiasts across the UK and beyond, whilst Twitter is a hub of evidence-informed debate and discussion, including through the weekly #UKEdResChat.

The Chartered College, meanwhile, is providing teachers with access to education research via our database of journal articles, through our termly peer-reviewed journal, Impact, and online through our Research and Practice Hub. Research engagement also sits at the heart of our flagship Chartered Teacher programme, and increasing numbers of resources are being made available to help teachers evaluate and develop their skills in using research at every stage of their career.

Of course, teachers themselves sit at the heart of all of this – as we develop opportunities for teachers themselves to drive their profession, to collaborate and share, and to be recognised for their expertise.

To hear from Cat Scutt and many more speakers including Ofsted, the Institute for Effective Education the Institute for Teaching and National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) join us at Raising Standards and Attainment through Evidence Informed Teaching  Forum on 12th June 2018 in Central London.