Categories for Effective Instruction

Can Providing Each Child With a Computer Improve Academic Performance?

May 31, 2017

Learning in One-to-One Laptop Environments: A Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis

A recently released paper on the impact of computers on student achievement has concluded that providing each student with a computer has a modest but positive effect on student achievement. This meta-analysis included 10 studies from more than 15 years of research on the topic. The researchers found that one-to-one laptop programs have a statistically significant positive role in improving student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science. This research runs counter to previous studies, which viewed computer impact as overstated and computers as underused in schools. The new study found that providing students with their own computers has a positive impact by making it easier to share drafts of projects and thus increasing access to feedback. The researchers also concluded that more research is needed as only 10 rigorous studies were available for inclusion in the meta-analysis.

Citation: Zheng, B., Warschauer, M., Lin, C. H., & Chang, C. (2016). Learning in one-to-one laptop environments: A meta-analysis and research synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 1052–1084.




What Strategies Are Needed to Maximize Treatment Integrity?

May 12, 2017

Treatment Integrity Strategies Overview

Student achievement scores in the United States remain stagnant despite repeated attempts to reform the education system. New initiatives promising hope arise, only to disappoint after being adopted, implemented, and quickly found wanting. The cycle of reform followed by failure has had a demoralizing effect on schools, making new reform efforts problematic. These efforts frequently fail because implementing new practices is far more challenging than expected and require that greater attention be paid to how initiatives are implemented. Treatment integrity is increasingly recognized as an essential component of effective implementation in an evidence-based education model that produces results, and inattention to treatment integrity is seen as a primary reason new initiatives fail. The question remains, what strategies can educators employ to increase the likelihood that practices are implemented as designed? The Wing Institute overview on the topic of Treatment Integrity Strategies examines the essential practice elements indispensable for maximizing treatment integrity.

Citation: States, J., Detrich, R. & Keyworth, R. (2017). Overview of Treatment Integrity Strategies. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.




How Powerful Is Mindfulness?

May 11, 2017

Mindfulness-based interventions for improving cognition, academic achievement, behavior, and socioemotional functioning of primary and secondary students

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) in schools have become increasingly popular. These practices are employed to reduce student stress and anxiety, and to improve socioemotional competencies, student behavior, and academic achievement. For purposes of the study MBI’s were defined as self-regulation of attention to the conscious awareness of one’s immediate experiences while adopting an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance. A recent Campbell Collaboration systematic review examined the effectiveness of school-based MBIs on cognition, behavior, socioemotional outcomes, physiological, and academic achievement. Of 61 studies examined, 35 studies, with a total of 6,207 student participants, met the criteria for inclusion. Studies in this review included randomized trials, quasi-experimental designs, single group pre-post test comparisons, and single subject designs. To be included in the review, a study had to report outcomes on at least one of these measures: cognition, academic performance, behavior, socioemotional, and physiological. Study populations included preschool, primary school, and secondary school students.

The Campbell review found that MBIs had a small, statistically significant positive effect on cognitive and socioemotional outcomes, but no significant effect on behavioral and academic outcomes. The study also concluded that further work in this area is needed, given the quantity of research and quality of the available studies.

Citation: Maynard, B. R., Solis, M. R., Miller, V. L., & Brendel, K. E. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for improving cognition, academic achievement, behavior, and socioemotional functioning of primary and secondary students. Campbell Systematic Reviews:5





How Effective Is Phonics Instruction?

April 20, 2017

Comparing and Validating Methods of Reading Instruction Using Behavioural and Neural Findings in an Artificial Orthography

There is a strong evidence base for emphasizing print-to-sound relationships when teaching students to read alphabetic languages. Nevertheless, direct reading instruction methods remain controversial. The results of this study confirm that early literacy instruction is most effective when focused on print-to-sound relationships (phonics) rather than on meaning. The benefits of print-to-sound training were found to be superior to print-to-meaning training for these reasons: (a) Reading aloud trained words learned phonetically was faster and more accurate, (b) generalization in reading aloud untrained words was faster, and (c) comprehension of written words was more accurate earlier in learning. These findings provide additional experimental support for the importance of early phonics instruction. They contradict the argument that phonics teaching does not improve reading for meaning (comprehension).

Citation: Taylor, J. S. H., Davis, M. H., & Rastle, K. (2017, April 20). Comparing and validating methods of reading instruction using behavioural and neural findings in an artificial orthography. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication.




Integrating Assessment to Accommodate New Science Standards

April 19, 2017

Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom (2017)

Seeing Students Learn Science is a guidebook meant to help educators improve the way in which students learn science. The introduction of new science standards across the nation has led to the adoption of new curricula, instruction, and professional development to align with the new standards. This publication is designed as a resource for educators to adapt assessment to these changes. It includes examples of innovative assessment formats, ways to embed assessments in engaging classroom activities, and ideas for interpreting and using novel kinds of assessment information.

Citation: Beatty, A., Schweingruber, H., & National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.




Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension

March 30, 2017

Examining the Impact of Inference Instruction on the Literal and Inferential Comprehension of Skilled and Less Skilled Readers: A Meta-Analytic Review

Mastering reading is pivotal for success in school. A new study released in early 2017 examines strategies for teaching reading comprehension, one of the five essential instructional practices necessary for improving reading achievement, and also offers educators practical information on how to increase the effectiveness of reading comprehension instruction. The 2000 National Reading Panel report on reading identified comprehension along with phonemic awareness, phonics instruction, fluency, and vocabulary as requisite skills for effective reading. This new meta-analytic review evaluates the impact of various comprehension instructional practices and suggests a strong relationship between inference generation and reading comprehension. It found that inference instruction was effective for increasing general comprehension (*0.58), inferential comprehension (*0.68), and literal comprehension (*0.28). Another interesting finding was the difference in performance between skilled readers and less skilled readers. Less skilled readers improved in both inferential comprehension and literal comprehension, whereas skilled readers mostly improved in inferential comprehension. These findings suggest that all students can increase their inference ability and that less skilled readers experience the extra benefit of increased literal comprehension. The study concludes that inference ability is not a product of comprehension, but rather a plausible cause of reading comprehension performance.

* = Effect Size

Elleman, A. M. (2017). Examining the impact of inference instruction on the literal and inferential comprehension of skilled and less skilled readers: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Educational Psychology.

Additional commentary of interest on this study is available from Daniel Willingham.



How Effective Are Practice Tests?

March 24, 2017

Rethinking the Use of Tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing

This meta-analysis examined the effects of practice tests versus no practice tests on student performance. The research demonstrated that students who take practice tests often outperform students in non-testing learning conditions such as restudying, practice, filler activities, or no re-presentation of the material. Results revealed that practice tests are more beneficial for learning than restudying and all other conditions that exclude practice tests. This review found that the impact of practice tests had a moderate effect size of 0.51 compared with restudying, and a larger effect size of 0.93 compared with filler or no activities.

Adesope, O. O., Trevisan, D. A., & Sundararajan, N. (2017). Rethinking the Use of Tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing. Review of Educational Research.



President Trump Proposed Education Budget

March 17, 2017

President Trump’s proposed America First Budget reduces the Department of Education budget by $9.2 Billion.  It is important to note in America education is primarily a State and local responsibility. The federal portion of education budget is only 1% of the total national education expenditures. Some of the programs that are at risk are Title II grants which provide funds to hire and train teachers, teacher improvement programs, summer programs, after-school and extended-learning initiatives, teacher-preparation program improvement, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) which offer aid to low-income undergraduates, TRIO Programs (TRIO) serving low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities, GEARUP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, and The Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Grant Program which provides non-profits resources for recruiting, selecting, and preparing or providing professional enhancement activities for teachers and principals.

Programs that are not at risk of losing funds are Federal Pell Grants, funding for historically black colleges and universities, Title I grants that specifically target schools serving disadvantaged students, and special education funding. The big winner is school choice. New funds of about $418 million are proposed for private school choice and charter schools.

Citation: Office of Budget and Management. (2017). America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.

America First Budget Proposal Link:



Teaching Students to Write Effectively

March 14, 2017

Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively

This practice guide released by What Works Clearinghouse presents three recommendations for helping students in grades 6 to 12 develop effective writing skills along with the strength of evidence to support the recommendations.

  • Explicitly teach appropriate writing strategies using a model-practice-reflect instructional cycle. Strong Evidence
  • Integrate writing and reading to emphasize key writing features. Moderate Evidence
  • Use assessments of student writing to inform instruction and feedback. Minimal evidence

Each recommendation includes specific actionable guidance for educators on implementing these practices in the classroom. It is geared toward administrators and teachers in all disciplines who want to help improve their students’ writing.



Increasing Opportunities for Teachers to Plan Lessons

February 28, 2017

Reimagining the School Day: Innovative Schedules for Teaching and Learning

A new report from the Center for American Progress suggests that American students would be better served if teachers were allowed more time to collaborate with colleagues, plan lessons, and review the effects of instruction. Education reform efforts in the United States have resulted in notable increases in the average length of the school day and the school year, expanding total instructional time for students. This means that teachers spend about 27 hours per week in face-to-face time teaching. Disappointingly, these efforts have not increased student achievement scores. An unintended consequence has been that American teachers typically spend significantly less time planning lessons than peers in nations such as Singapore and Finland, which are achieving better results. This report examines scheduling options that increase educator time to plan lessons. Examples of school schedules from across the United States are offered as a resource for schools systems looking to improve performance in this critical area of instruction.

Benner, M., & Partelow, L. (2017). Reimagining the School Day: Innovative Schedules for Teaching and Learning. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.