University of Tasmania
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Let them in on the big secret' : an examination of explicit teaching behaviours in the contemporary classroom

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:43 authored by Fuglsang, AJ
A perceived decline in the performance of Australian students has prompted questions about the effectiveness of the nation's classroom teachers. In particular, evidence from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009‚Äö-2015, indicates a downward trend over a sustained period of time. Features of the associated discourse have been an emphasis on the efficacy of explicit instruction, concerns that an explicit teaching pedagogy is under-represented in the contemporary classroom, and the implication that teacher training and in-service professional learning should be adjusted accordingly. A primary purpose of this study was to develop an approach to describe the explicit teaching strategies that upper primary school teachers use in the classroom. Such data provide evidence of the presence and nature of any deficiency that might require instructional intervention. The first step was to establish a clear understanding of the meaning of 'explicit teaching or instruction' as it is applied in contemporary commentary to describe a preferred approach to classroom instruction. The resulting construct (called the Explicit Teaching Construct) or framework was used in a mixed methods investigation to describe classroom practice, to compare the practices of individual teachers, and to compare practices in low socio-economic status (SES) and high SES classrooms. Data collection was primarily conducted through observation of literacy lessons of twelve participants from nine different government primary schools in southern Tasmania, using a category observation instrument organised around 13 explicit instruction characteristics. The resulting data was organised into individual participant profiles after its quantification with reference to a three point scale of alignment, which compared individual teacher practice with a characteristic descriptor. The analysis provided evidence of an established explicit teaching pedagogy across the participant cohort, with the greatest variation evident in the employment of high-impact strategies that were strongly associated with positive learning outcomes. High and low SES students had a similar experience of explicit teaching with some variation between the cohorts noted in the use of high-impact strategies. The capacity to accurately describe explicit instruction in terms of component strategies may have application in adding to the understanding of the set of teacher behaviours that best influences positive student outcomes and, feasibly, in sharpening any inquiry into those factors that influence the development of pedagogy generally, and skillsets specifically.


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