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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Let teachers teach

Teachers teach better than students, writes Alex Tabarrok on Marginal Revolution. “A slew of research shows that direct instruction produces superior results compared to other instructional methods,” he writes.

Researcher Eric Taylor ran a controlled study comparing direct with student-led instruction.

In the conventional model, the teacher explains and models math rules and procedures, he writes. The student-led model expect students “to reason through and articulate math concepts with each other, while teachers facilitate conversations and help students express their thoughts with a focus on understanding, rather than on students answering problems correctly.”

Direct instruction produced higher test scores.

The study also analyzed data on teachers’ understanding of math of how to teach it, writes Tabarrok. That was linked to student learning only when teachers use direct instruction. “In other words, teacher skill only produces results when teachers are assigned a task that uses that skill. Student-led classrooms waste teacher skill and so are less productive.”

On Ed Week, Jeff Feitelberg, a fourth-grade teacher in Arizona, explains how he uses Cognitively-Guided Instruction, a student-centered approach, to teach math. “It starts with what children already know and builds on their natural number sense as well as their intuitive approaches to problem solving.”

It requires careful planning by teachers to make it work.

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