Daily Archives: March 10, 2015

Lessons from Educational Research in 2014

AERA 2015 is just around the corner! Each year the American Educational Research Association publishes a list of its 10 most-read articles. NPR’s educational blog reviewed these articles and summarized what the 5 major lessons from educational research were in 2014. Below are the 5 major lessons plus excerpts from NPR’s findings.


1. What’s The Best Way To Teach Math To Struggling First-Graders? The Old-Fashioned Way

In “Which Instructional Practices Most Help First-Grade Students With and Without Mathematics Difficulties?” the researchers found that plain, old-fashioned practice and drills — directed by the teacher — were far more effective than “creative” methods such as music, math toys and student-directed learning

2. The Effectiveness Of Alignment

When a teacher’s curriculum is perfectly aligned with a set of standards, meaning they’re teaching exactly what they’re told to, will students’ test scores rise? That’s the question a group of researchers set out to answer in “Instructional Alignment as a Measure of Teaching Quality.”… The results did not show a meaningful relationship between the two. Meaning, perfectly aligned curriculum is no more likely to be associated with gains in tests scores than perfectly unaligned curriculum.

3./4.On The Higher-Ed Front

Two of the most-read education research articles of 2014 were focused on different aspects of community college… It’s no surprise that the researchers found that those with associate degrees and long-term certificates were more likely to be employed and had higher earnings compared with a group that attended community college but didn’t obtain a credential. We know that the more education you obtain, the better off you’ll be… Community college students hoping to increase their earnings further likely require a bachelor’s degree. But the path from community college to a four-year school is filled with “choke points.”

5. What SEL-Based Curriculum May And May Not Be Able To Do

 When teachers spend time focusing and emphasizing social-emotional learning, or SEL, some may worry it may be at the expense of time spent on other subjects and that students’ performance in those subjects may suffer. The findings from “Efficacy of the Responsive Classroom Approach: Results from a 3-Year, Longitudinal Randomized Controlled Trial,” which looked at 276 classrooms in 24 schools, suggest otherwise… a subset of students with teachers using the curriculum exactly the way researchers designed it saw substantial gains in math and reading. This could be evidence that a curriculum approach based on SEL can have high returns, but only when teachers are trained extensively. Or, it could just be that teachers who are well-trained and follow directions are better teachers.

To read NPR’s entire summary, click here: