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What makes great teaching?

Here’s a valuable piece of research to see us out towards the end of the year. Possibly something to start the year next year too?

What makes great teaching? Review of the Underpinning Research. Posted on: October 31, 2014. Categories: Schools Author: Robert Coe - Cesare Aloisi -Steve Higgins and Lee Elliot Major

The summit brought together 80 school leaders and teachers from a range of countries, including Australia, Canada, Finland, Holland, Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and the US, to consider the latest research evidence on professional learning and share their practical tools and strategies for using observation and feedback, with the aim of creating a practical guide to support the effective professional learning of teachers.

magnifying glass This report reviews over 200 pieces of research to identify the elements of teaching with the strongest evidence of improving attainment. It finds some common practices can be harmful to learning and have no grounding in research. Specific practices which are supported by good evidence of their effectiveness are also examined and six key factors that contribute to great teaching are identified. The report also analyses different methods of evaluating teaching including: using ‘value-added’ results from student test scores; observing classroom teaching; and getting students to rate the quality of their teaching.


Key findings of great teaching It makes for some exciting reading especially around what constitutes 'good pedagogy' as well as the links between teacher behaviours, knowledge and understandings - how the brain works and how we learn best. 

Some key ideas:

  • The most effective teachers have deep knowledge of the subjects they teach, and when teachers' knowledge falls below a certain level it is a significant impediment to students' learning.
  • To establish a firm foundation for improved student outcomes, teachers must integrate their knowledge about the curriculum, and about how to teach it effectively and how to assess whether students have learned it.

Examples of ineffective practice is quite telling too. EG: Ties in with other research around misconceptions about praising students ie: giving students specific, constructive feedback about their skills, knowledge and processes is more beneficial than blanketed comments about their behaviour or innate ability etc.

While the whole report is quite a sizeable, the summary is succinct. You can also use summary tools like the following to unpack this further with staff.

I love to hear what you think of this report too?