Join the revolution: evidence-based teaching

Tuesday 6 November 2018, Teacher Training


Join the revolution: evidence-based teaching


For centuries teachers have taught the way they themselves were taught, or followed fads, fashions, and government initiatives. But this is changing. Over the last few decades researchers have rigorously trialled hundreds of thousands of teaching methods in real classrooms with real teachers. Some teaching methods, have been found to almost double the rate at which students learn.

As a consequence, teachers are taking back control of their own practice, and improving students’ achievements markedly. Why not come and join this revolution, transform the teaching profession, and make a huge difference to your students’ life chances?

Here’s just one of many methods that have done really well in classroom trials. Why do you think is it so effective?  Students are warned of the process before they start.

  • Students answer questions and put their name on their work.
  • They hand these in, and you give them out to other students to mark. (It’s best if students do not know who will mark their work.)
  • Students mark their peers work using ‘model answers’ or ‘worked solutions’ which say where marks are gained or lost.
  • You collect all the marked work, and hand them back to the student who answered the questions. Students each keep the model answers and mark scheme (most students will probably check the quality of the peer’s marking, but you needn’t).
  • You ask them what issues came up? What judgements were hard to make?

Why does the method work?  Students become very clear about:

  1. What they should have done. This comes from having to look carefully at the model answers while marking their peers, and when checking the marking of their own work.
  2. What they got right. The peer marking will tell them what they got right, and they can check this marking against the model.
  3. What they didn’t get right and how to fix it. The peer who marked their work will show them what they got wrong and again, they can check this against the model.  Helpfully, they have studied carefully the correct answers while using the model to mark the peer’s work.  And in checking the marking of their own work. Consequently, they can easily see the gap between what they did do, and what they should have done, and how to close this gap. 

The most powerful teaching methods get the students to do more, and often the teacher to do less. However, they are not easy methods to use well, and require skill, judgement and practice to get the best out of them. Not surprisingly these highly effective methods are greatly enjoyed by students. If students didn’t enjoy the methods, they would hardly work well.

So, it’s a win-win situation, the teacher gets to use more interesting methods, not to work harder than necessary, and to see their students really enjoying their lessons.

Come to the barricades!


Geoff Petty is one of the UK’s leading experts on teaching methods. An experienced teacher and former teacher trainer, his best-selling books Teaching Today and Evidence-Based Teaching are valued for their down to earth, no-nonsense practicality. His new book, How to Teach Even Better: An Evidence-Based Approach (Oxford University Press) is coming out next year. You can follow him on Twitter @GeoffreyPetty

If you liked this…


It’s one of a series of blogs to help make your introduction to teacher training a little easier. Get up-to-speed with some of the topics you’re likely to encounter in your training:

Five ways to ensure a successful ITT year

There’s more to assessment than meets the eye 

Getting behaviour right from the start

How to support children with SEND in the mainstream classroom