Great Teaching, Inspired Learning: what does the evidence tell us about effective teaching?

This literature review was originally published 12 March 2013.

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Significant research exists on the topic of teaching quality. In NSW, the Great Teaching, Inspired Learning discussion paper was released in 2012 to start a conversation about how NSW can best ensure all students have access to high-quality teaching.

High-quality teaching is the greatest in-school influence on student engagement and outcomes. Given current concerns about Australia’s declining performance on international assessments, particularly when compared with high-performing Asian and other countries, there is significant interest in the contribution that high-quality teaching can make to improving educational results.

Some recent analysis has examined the education systems of high-performers, and described their teacher recruitment, training and development practices1. This type of analysis increases our understanding of other nations’ education systems and different approaches. However, it does not provide evidence of a causal link between these countries’ systemic practices and their strong education results2.

This work is part of the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation’s mandate: to be the central point of education evidence, to ensure decisions are information-based and investment is targeted to maximise the benefits to all students and citizens in NSW. Given the extensive research that has been undertaken on teacher quality, this paper does not set out to be exhaustive; nor does it make specific recommendations for policy or practice in NSW.

Wherever possible, this paper presents robust, quantitative research evidence on those areas of the teaching lifecycle that afford the greatest opportunity for action to improve the quality of teaching3.

1 For example, B Jensen 2012, Catching up: Learning from the best school systems in Asia, Grattan Institute; OECD 2012, Education at a glance: OECD indicators; OCED 2012, Education today 2013: The OECD perspective.

2 Other factors may also be influencing student outcomes in some high-performing countries. For example, in Shanghai, Korea, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei, it is estimated that up to 80 per cent of students attend out-of-school tutorials. See Pearson Foundation 2012, Strong performers and successful reformers in education. See also M Bray and C Lykins 2012, Shadow education: Private supplementary tutoring and its implications for policy makers in Asia, CERC Monograph Series in Comparative and International Education and Development, No 9, Asian Development Bank and Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC).

3 The nature and quality of the research available is discussed in section 3 of this document.


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