+ Organizing Instruction to Improve Student Learning

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In addition to teaching children to master new material, a major concern is making sure they don’t forget the material by the time testing happens.  High stakes testing can occur many months after material has been presented.

The Institute of Education Services (IES) has provided a practice guide, intended to provide teachers with specific strategies for organizing both instruction and  students’ studying of material to facilitate learning, remembering, and transferring knowledge to new situations.  

A distinguishing characteristic of the recommendations is a high degree of concreteness.  The panel focused on concrete questions about how to promote learning.


  1. Space learning over time, from moment of introduction to moment of testing: this is the overarching principle for teachers to attend to as they plan instruction. 
  2. Interleave examples of worked solutions with students’ own problem solving exercises. 
  3. Combine graphics with verbal instruction so information is accessed in multiple modalities. 
  4. Connect abstract and concrete representations of concepts, and take steps to integrate them. 
  5. Use quizzing to promote learning at all phases of the learning process; use pre-questions to introduce topics and re-expose students to key content with quizzes — so often students appear to have mastered material in December or February, only to have forgotten it by June.
  6. Help students allocate study time as they identify what they know well and what needs further study; teach them how to judge what they have learned — psychologists call this “metacognition,” and it really makes a difference. 
  7. Ask deep explanatory questions; use instructional prompts that encourage students to pose and answer “deep-level” questions on course material — questions that focus on underlying causal and explanatory principles has been shown to facilitate mastery of a domain.

Thanks to Kevin Feldman’s invaluable “Literacy List” for this information.  You can receive emails from Feldman’s listserve by emailing literacy-on@lists.scoe.org .  For more guidelines on teaching have a look at  www.centeroninstruction.org.

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com


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