Introduction to Evidence-Based Teaching Methods

May 2nd, 2014 by Ken Traupmann, Ph.D.

Our national discussion concerning K-12 education almost inevitably turns to the quality of student test results. Year after year those results, especially in math and science, are less than desired. When compared to the students of many foreign countries, they’re not just “less than desired.” They’re dismal. (See, for example, for the most recent results.)

On the heels of the reports of our nation’s annual high stakes test results, the discussion turns to the need for “better teachers.” It is of special interest to me that the discussion fails to turn to “better teaching.”

A wealth of quality research has established that certain teaching methods are clearly superior to others. These methods are the so-called “evidence-based methods.” If they were systematically taught in schools of education, if they were required to obtain a credential to teach, and if they were expected of teachers by contracting schools (districts), it is likely that our nation’s test scores would rise sharply.

Unfortunately, knowledge concerning evidence-based practices is as though locked in a vault compared to what is taught in most programs of teacher education, compared to the requirements to obtain a teaching credential, and compared to what school administrators expect teachers to do in the classroom.

I’ll try my best to explain some of the evidence-based teaching methods in a way that most readers will understand. What I would really like is for the reader, perhaps a concerned parent, to be able to observe classroom functioning and make an accurate determination of the major things the teacher is doing right and what is in need of change for the teacher to be more effective.

If this blog works as we’ve planned it, one of our teaching staff will follow up my comments with comments illustrative of her/his own classroom. In turn, your comments will help us see whether we’ve succeeded.

In separate blogs, we’ll address methods of engaging students, teaching expectations, catching students doing the right thing, bringing student skill and knowledge to mastery and then fluency, using “big ideas” to convey content knowledge, and the immense power of having a teaching coach. And, we’ll also address some others as well, because there are many.