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Overpraising struggling students 'can be counter-productive'

03/11/2014 Kelly
Lavishing praise on pupils who are struggling is not the best way to boost their educational performance. 

New research by the Sutton Trust has found many common teaching practices are in fact ineffective and could actually prove to be counter-productive in the long term. 

The study looked at over 200 pieces of research in an effort to identify what makes a great teacher, dismissing a few myths along the way. 

Among the other methods that are lacking good case study support are that letting kids discover key ideas on their own, using students' "preferred learning styles" to present information and grouping students by ability leads to better results.

Instead, the trust identified several tried and tested methods that continue to facilitate a good learning experience for youngsters. These include tests, asking a lot of questions and monitoring responses, and challenging students to consider why an activity is taking place during a lesson. 

Professor Robert Coe from Durham University was one of the lead researchers and he believes there is no such thing as the perfect "recipe" for being a good teacher. 

"[But] teachers need to understand why, when and how a particular approach is likely to enhance students' learning and be given time and support to embed it in their practice," he added.

Professor Coe acknowledged that teaching is a very complex profession, and so judging the relative merits of one style over another is hard to do. 

Two factors identified as having the biggest impact on improving students are a strong knowledge and understanding of a subject, and effective questioning and the use of assessment by teachers.

The classroom climate, classroom management, teachers' beliefs and professional development were also highlighted as having an effect on the quality of education children will receive. 

Dr Lee Elliot Major, director of policy and development at the Sutton Trust, called it "a scandal" that professional development is routinely overlooked.

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801758034-ADNFCR
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