What evidence-based mathematics instructional strategies can teachers employ?

Page 5: Effective Strategies for Teaching Mathematics

high quality math instruction logoAnother component of high-quality mathematics instruction is the use of evidence-based strategies. An evidence-based strategy or practice is one whose effectiveness is supported by rigorous research. Three such practices for teaching mathematics are detailed below.

teacher at board

Explicit instruction
involves teaching a specific skill or concept in a highly structured environment using clear, direct language (Note: also referred to as direct instruction)

boy and girl studying

Peer tutoring
involves two students working together on an instructional activity, periodically switching roles as tutor and tutee

children with book

Cooperative learning
involves students working together in small mixed-ability groups to maximize everyone’s learning

Note: These three strategies will be discussed in greater detail on the following pages.

Keep in mind that research on effective mathematics strategies is an emerging field. Over time, other strategies may prove to be effective methods of teaching mathematical skills and concepts. School personnel can consult a variety of reputable sources (e.g., What Works Clearinghouse, Best Evidence Encyclopedia) to identify evidence-based strategies and practices and to find general information, research findings, and effectiveness ratings for each.

US D O E logoIndicates U.S. Department of Education Websites

Best Evidence Encyclopedia
Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education (Johns Hopkins University)

This online clearinghouse offers information on the researched evaluations of numerous educational programs in a coherently arranged and easy-to-navigate format.

Center on Instruction
RMC Research Corporation

Explore this Website to find “a cutting-edge collection of scientifically based research and information on K–12 instruction in reading, mathematics, science, special education, and English language learning.” On hand are links to resources for struggling readers, literary resources for adolescents, an introduction to progress monitoring in mathematics, and many, many others.

Promising Practices Network
RAND Corporation

The Promising Practices Network—a project of the RAND Corporation—highlights “summaries of programs and practices that are proven to improve outcomes for children.” Pre-screened and evaluated programs on hand here include Early Intervention in Reading, I CAN Learn Pre-Algebra and Algebra, and Good Behavior Game, among many, many others.

US D O E logoWhat Works Clearinghouse
U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Services

Browse this site to read the latest from the U.S. Department of Education on topics related to “Adolescent Literary,” “Beginning Reading,” “Dropout Prevention,” “Early Childhood Education,” “Elementary School Math,” “English Language Learners,” “Middle School Math,” and “Character Education.” Online resources allow users to create their own “Effectiveness Rating” chart.

For Your Information

If teachers are to effectively implement an evidence-based instructional strategy, it is important that they receive training from a knowledgeable professional. This includes initial training, such as that provided during a professional development training session. Additionally, the ongoing support (e.g., coaching, mentoring) offered by school staff or external consultants can help improve and maintain the skills necessary for correct implementation.

A Look at Lyle

A Look at LyleAs the Mathematics Team reflects on the instructional practices used to teach mathematics at Lyle, they realize that many are not evidence-based. Most of the teachers are using traditional methods that, though commonly considered to be effective for teaching mathematics, are often not supported by research. They realize that they need to learn more about the evidence-based strategies outlined above and how to implement them with fidelity, an effort that will require training and ongoing support.

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