Effective teaching practices for students with and without learning difficulties: Issues and implications surrounding key findings and recommendations from the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy

Effective teaching practices

What the resource is.
The resource is a peer reviewed journal article authored by Ken Rowe from the Australian Council for Educational Research.

The paper argues that much of what is commonly claimed as ‘effective teaching practice' implemented during the early and middle years in Australian schools, for either mainstream students or for those experiencing learning difficulties, is not grounded in findings from evidence-based research.

It continues by noting that issues surrounding ‘effective teaching practice' came into particularly sharp focus during the 2004-2005 National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy. As a result, the paper takes a focus upon the examination of teaching strategies that are demonstrably effective in maximising the achievement progress of students.

As a result, it is argued that since teachers are the most valuable resource available to schools, an investment in teacher professionalism is vital for ensuring that they are equipped with an evidence-based repertoire of pedagogical skills that are effective in meeting the developmental and learning needs of all students.

The aims of the resource
The resource initially sets out to contextualise the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy in November 2004 by the Australian Government Minister for Education, Science and Training. The purpose of the Inquiry was to examine:

  • The teaching of reading in Australian schools;
  • The assessment of reading proficiency including identification of students with reading difficulties
  • Teacher training and the extent to which it prepares teachers adequately for reading instruction.

Consequently, the paper sets out to examine the following key issues and analysing current evidence based literature:

  • Review and analysis of recent national (Australian) and international research about literacy teaching approaches, particularly those that are shown to be effective in assisting students with reading difficulties.
  • Identify the extent to which prospective teachers are provided with reading teaching approaches and skills that are effective in the classroom, and have opportunities to develop and practice the skills required to implement effective classroom reading programmes.
  • Identify the ways in which research evidence on literacy teaching and policies in Australian schools can best inform classroom teaching practice and support teacher professional learning.


Key findings or focus
The paper identifies a number of key findings and points for further discussion and consideration:

  • The things that made the difference to students' learning and achievement progress was where teachers were taught how to teach via direct/explicit instruction teaching methods - informed by findings from local and international evidence-based research.
  • Educational effectiveness for all students is crucially dependent on the provision of quality teaching by competent teachers who are equipped with effective, evidence-based teaching strategies that work.
  • There continues to be several barriers to reform that: (1) perpetrate prevailing ‘myths' of ‘school effectiveness' (or ‘ineffectiveness'); and (2) generate misinformed and/or misdirected rationalisations of students' differential experiences and outcomes of schooling. The most pervasive of these is the widespread tendency to place undue credence on various outmoded forms of biological and social determinism which assume that individual children - whether they be boys or girls do poorly or well at school because of developmental differences, because they are ‘dumb' or ‘smart' or come from ‘disadvantaged' or ‘advantaged' backgrounds.
  • There is strong support for the proposition that it is the identity of the class-teacher groups to which students are assigned that is a key determinant of their perceptions and experiences of schooling, as well as their achievement progress and attentive-inattentive behaviours in the classroom
  • Teachers can and do make a difference - regardless of students' social backgrounds and ‘intake' characteristics, and whether or not they experience learning difficulties
  • The imperative of quality teaching and learning provision, supported by teaching standards and ongoing teacher professional development focused on evidence-based practices that are demonstrably effective in maximising students' learning outcomes and achievement progress are vital to educational success.
  • The effect of poor quality teaching on student outcomes is debilitating and cumulative. The effects of quality teaching on educational outcomes are greater than those that arise from students' backgrounds.
  • The realisation must be that since teachers are the most valuable resource available to schools, an investment in teacher professionalism is vital, by ensuring that they are equipped with an evidence based repertoire of pedagogical skills that are effective in meeting the developmental and learning needs of all students.

The quality, authority and credibility of the resource.
The resource has a high level of credibility in that it is a peer reviewed journal article which draws upon a National Inquiry whilst balancing this with existing evidence based research.

The implications for ITE tutors/mentors.
The resource will be of use for tutors and mentors in identifying effective educational strategies for maximising pupil achievement. The resource will be of use in preparation for discussion with student teachers and for personal and professional reflection.

The relevance to ITE students.
This resource contains extensive referenced sources and is a valuable source of further reading. The paper will be of use in gaining a comprehensive, detailed and critical review of how educational effectiveness or ineffectiveness is achieved.

Reviewed by:
Philip Vickerman

Keywords

Effective teaching; Learning difficulties; Issues and implications; literacy

Article published to :

About SEN

Special Educational Needs &/or Disability

Type of Resource

Research

Source :

www.acer.edu.au/enews/0612_rowe.html

Publisher :

Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties

Article Id :

13619

Date Posted:

8/8/2007