High Impact Evidence Based Teaching Strategies

Oct 25, 2018

In 2008, Professor John Hattie publishes a ground-breaking book called Visible Learning which synthesized the results of more than fifteen years of research involving millions of students and represented the biggest ever collection of evidence-based research into what actually works in schools to improve learning. A significant finding in the book was that teachers can make a positive difference on student's performance despite other circumstances that may impede learning. A passionate teacher who has a strong relationship with students and adopts evidence based teaching strategies tends to have a large and positive impact on students learning compared to other factors.

Along with another educational researcher Robert Marzano, he ranked the teaching strategies by the contribution they make to student learning and the result of this extensive work were the 10 Evidence Based Teaching Strategies which have shown to have a high impact in improving and evaluating learning outcomes. These reliable strategies can be either used in isolation or adopted school wide or country-wide.

Why is an evidence based approach to teaching and learning important?

  • Supported by strong evidence and on meta analyses of extensive findings
  • Crucial to maximizing student outcomes
  • Applicable and adaptable across subjects, students abilities and grade level
Top 10 High Impact Teaching Strategies
  1. Setting Clear Goals: Setting and communicating clear lesson goals help students to understand what is required and what is the success criteria. This should set a culture of realistic but high expectations and also ensure that students of varying degrees of abilities can achieve them.

  2. Worked Examples: An effective teacher should demonstrate the step by step process to solve a problem or complete a task. The focus should be on students understanding of the process which leads to an answer and not the answer itself.

  3. Explicit Teaching: In explicit teaching practice, teachers show students what to do and how to do it, and create opportunities in lessons for students to demonstrate understanding and apply the learning. The focus should be on mastery of the new knowledge or skill before moving on.

  4. Summarize Learning: Encourage students to summarize their learning in the form of reflections, essays, graphs, mind maps or Venn diagrams. This is particularly useful in trans disciplinary concepts.

  5. Spaced Practice: Deep learning develops over time via multiple, spaced interactions with new knowledge and concepts. This may require spacing practice over several days, and using different activities to vary the interactions learners have with new knowledge.

  6. Questioning: Effective Questioning gives the teacher feedback on the students understanding and stimulates the students to express their own independent opinions. It also stimulates curiosity in learning and lets the student link back to their life.

  7. Collaborative Learning: A collaborative learning environment in one where teacher assigns different roles within group and students take responsibility for meaningful tasks and value others contribution.

  8. Feedback: The feedback could be given by teacher or peer and should focus only on the task at hand and provide clear-cut details to the student on where they did well and what they need to improve upon.

  9. Differentiated Teaching: Differentiated Teaching methods ensure that the learning is personalized by challenging students based on their readiness and learning profile. The objective is to increase the knowledge and skill of all students, including those who are lagging behind and those ahead of year level expectations. Technologies like EdSense help teachers maintain student specific learning profiles and plan lessons accordingly.

  10. Meta-Cognitive Strategies: Teachers should encourage students to be self-aware of their learning by adopting their own strategies to finish a task, actively seek feedback and take responsibility of their learning and choices.


In a Year 5 class of an IB school, a teacher has been successfully using multiple Evidence based teaching strategies to ensure deep learning of concepts. One good example is how the concept "Understanding Energy Systems and taking decisions on their sustainable use" was taught.

  • The teacher started with sharing the clear-cut lesson goals and her expectation of what the students were expected to learn and demonstrate at the end of the lesson.

  • Throughout the next few weeks, students were given different learning activities where they researched different types of energy systems ; inquiring into the advantages and disadvantages ; and exploring a range of communities that would benefit from a designed source of energy that improves the amount of electricity distribution within that community.
    Students worked in small groups to research different energy sources and shared their learning to other groups.

  • Students learnt about different energy providers and difference in rates and costs to use household appliances. This data was then used in Math classes to graphically chart the rates and costs. In ICT class, they learnt how to create a range of graphs using Excel and Word programs.

  • Students created an assessment which required them to choose a community around the world that is in need of electricity. They were told to design their own source of energy that they believed would be the best choice for that particular community.

  • To summarize their knowledge and understanding of the energy source chosen, in the Literacy class, the students wrote an explanation report to the government of the chosen community explaining their reasons for the implementation of that energy system.

So we see how with the use of strategies like Clear Lesson Goals, Worked examples, Collaborative Learning, Questioning , Spaced Practice and Summarize Learning, the teacher was able to ensure a deep learning of the concept.The same concept was the theme across different classes like Literacy, Math and ICT to encourage curiosity for learning amongst the students.

Have you used any of these strategies as a teacher? What was the experience like? If not, which of these strategies do you plan to use in your class?

-Madhavi Agnihotri