5 Ideas from 2017’s Best Educational Research

With the New Year approaching, and as we prepare to uncork the champagne to welcome 2018, let’s review some significant teaching and learning research findings from the past year. Inspired by Edutopia’s 2017 education research highlights, we’ve organized a list of ideas taken from several recent studies.

Ask yourself if you are utilizing the latest evidence-based strategies, and check out the new data to guide your teaching practices toward a Happy New Year:

  1. Are you giving students opportunities to explain and interpret concepts for each other in class?
    Peer teaching, connecting new concepts to prior learning, and repeatedly accessing a stored memory, can all support and reinforce learning. See video below or read more at: 5 Teaching Strategies for boosting retention (Edutopia)
  2. Are you offering practice tests?
    Giving practice tests (prior to high-stakes exams) can greatly improve learning and retention: “Results reveal that practice tests are more beneficial for learning than restudying and all other comparison conditions.” Read more at: Rethinking the Use of Tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing (American Education Research Association)
  3. Are you giving students strategic resources for achieving academic goals?
    Researchers designed a new Strategic Resource tool for goal-setting, “making students more self-reflective about how they should approach their learning with the resources available to them…” resulting in improved class performance. (Association for Psychological Science)
  4. Are you using clickers effectively?
    While using clickers is shown to improve fact-based retention, new research demonstrates that their benefit is not supported with more complex conceptual learning: “….students in problem-oriented course with little or no prior knowledge of the material suffered more from the negative effects of the factual clicker questions…preventing students from becoming diverted by the surface features of the information at the expense of developing more conceptual understanding.” Read more at: Clickers can promote fact retention but impede conceptual understanding (Elsevier/Science Direct)
  5. Are you mentoring a new instructor? Do you have a teaching mentor?
    Not surprisingly, new research shows that mentoring is strongly correlated with positive impacts on student achievement, and on teaching preparation, persistence, and problem-solving. Mentors who can observe classroom instruction, provide feedback, give lesson-planning advice, and assist with analyzing student work, helps to “close the achievement gap” allowing students to experience major academic gains. Read more at: The Case for Mentors Grows Stronger (Edutopia), and Mentors help new teachers be their best, and Impact of the New Teacher Induction Model (SRI International)