|Teaching (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 34 p.)|
This booklet is a synthesis of principles of effective teaching that have emerged from research in classrooms. It addresses generic aspects of curriculum, instruction and assessment, as well as classroom organization and management practices that support effective instruction. It focuses on learning outcomes but with recognition of the need for a supportive classroom climate and positive student attitudes towards schooling, teachers and classmates.
Much of the research support for these principles comes from studies of relationships between classroom processes (measured through observation systems) and student outcomes (most notably, gains in standardized achievement tests). However, some principles are rooted in the logic of instructional design (e.g. the need for alignment among a curriculums goals, content, instructional methods and assessment measures). In addition, attention was paid to emergent theories of teaching and learning (e.g. socio-cultural, social constructivist) and to the standards statements circulated by organizations representing the major school subjects. Priority was given to principles that have been shown to be applicable under ordinary classroom conditions and associated with progress towards desired student outcomes.
The principles rest on a few fundamental assumptions about optimizing curriculum and instruction. First, school curricula subsume different types of learning that call for different types of teaching, and so no single teaching method (e.g. direct instruction, social construction of meaning) can be the method of choice for all occasions. An optimal programme will feature a mixture of instructional methods and learning activities.
Second, within any school subject or learning domain, students instructional needs change as their expertise develops. Consequently, what constitutes an optimal mixture of instructional methods and learning activities will evolve as school years, instructional units and even individual lessons progress.
Third, students should learn at high levels of mastery yet progress through the curriculum steadily. This implies that, at any given time, curriculum content and learning activities need to be difficult enough to challenge students and extend their learning, but not so difficult as to leave many students confused or frustrated. Instruction should focus on the zone of proximal development, which is the range of knowledge and skills that students are not yet ready to acquire on their own but can acquire with help from their teachers.