The EEF have just released their updated Teaching and Learning Toolkit this morning, designed to support teachers in applying effective teaching and learning strategies in the classroom. The Toolkit is used by 70% of school leaders to guide their teaching and enhance student learning, and we at InnerDrive can see why. The Toolkit is food for thought, challenging current teaching strategies by backing up new approaches with current research.
NEW: Introducing our updated Teaching and Learning Toolkit!— EEF (@EducEndowFoundn) September 17, 2021
Designed to provide high quality information about which approaches are likely to support and improve pupil progress, based on existing evidence.
More info: https://t.co/vxWhJ4jnEE
Browse now: https://t.co/osk0wvozwP pic.twitter.com/HFFGsMxzkk
Given the impact that the Toolkit has on the education landscape, we immediately wanted to dive into the changes. So, let's take a closer look at what updates they have made…
Why is the EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit so important for teachers?
The Toolkit aims to provide teachers and school leaders with high-quality information to assist their chosen strategies with the intention of improving student progress. They urge schools to go beyond the headline and use extensive evidence in their decision making.
It not only looks at the positive evidence, but the negative too, allowing the finer details to be picked out rather than just a general overall rating. It is also investigative, looking past the primary sources and exploring further related research to provide an extensive account of each concept. These are important features, and great news for teachers looking to support their practice.
So, what has changed?
The toolkit provides an overview of numerous interventions based on three categories; the typical cost, the weight of evidence and the impact it may have (the latter being done on estimated months of additional progress. It is worth knowing that they do based on effect sizes reported in the original research, as it hopefully makes the findings more accessible).
These features are still present in the updated version, but it include a larger range of studies, goes into more depth about the numbers behind the research, as well as practical suggestions about how to effectively implement the strategies. A number of strands in the Toolkit have been updated. These include…
Technology has been used more and more in classrooms to support learning by increasing student engagement and productivity. They also assist teachers to improve their lesson plans and help boost student self-directed learning.
With 21 of the 31 meta-analyses included in the newest version of the Toolkit part of the Digital Technology strand, this update puts a useful focus on this area. This evidence is crucial to understanding the effectiveness of online teaching and learning strategies which are vastly implemented today.
For pupils who do not master key concepts quickly, mastery learning is important because it provides extra support through a range of teaching strategies. This approach consistently has positive impacts, allowing pupils to work at their own pace, and providing them with the opportunity to work collaboratively.
Oral language interventions
Emphasising the importance of spoken language and verbal interaction in the classroom provides the equivalent of 6 months’ additional progress for the pupils. This strategy develops comprehension, reading skills, vocabulary, articulation and spoken expression.
Allowing learners to take on responsibility for aspects of teaching and evaluating their success has a positive impact on both tutors and tutees. It is also a cost-effective alternative to delivering one-to-one or small group tuition in schools.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Education goes beyond a student’s academic development. Improving pupils’ decision-making skills, interaction with others, and management of their emotions is a vital aspect of educators’ practice. SEL interventions have a valuable impact on attitudes to learning and social relationships in school, and will be no doubt facilitated by the new evidence in the Toolkit.
These additional lessons are important to boost students’ progress, especially after seeing the attainment gap widen so much over the pandemic. The Toolkit looks at how to target and engage the pupils who could benefit most.
With an average three months’ additional progress, and additional experiences and activities such as arts or sporting activities, summer schools are definitely a strategy to consider. These can help increase engagement alongside academic support.
The EEF deserve a huge deal of praise: over the past few years, they have played a significant role in shaping the discourse around what interventions may be effective and how reliable the evidence around them is. As a result, many schools have become more evidence-informed.
The conversation around "what works" in education is an ongoing one. It is always going to be filled with caveats, as context matters and each school is different. But this updated Toolkit looks like a helpful tool in helping inform those discussions, acting as a springboard for further research-based practice.