Evidence-Based Teaching (Second Edition) Geoff Petty (2008)

There are multiple supper short chapters packed with first rate tips and insights making it an essential reference as well as one a core text to read and note in full. The graphics leave something to be desired – it pays to get in an illustrator.

This is not a review, though I should compise one. Rather these are my notes taken for two reasons: to provide me with points I can reference when writing up my PGCE to demonstrate ‘further reading’. The second is to provide me with suggestsions on how teach. It helps to have these pointers – real things you can do that teachers know work.

People often mistaken common practice for best practice (p.1) Just because others do it is not a reason to follow suit. The greatest crime is ‘death by powerpoint’. There are presenters who seem genuinely to believe that reading through a series of pages of bullet points, or reading out from a page of text is a worthwhile or effective experience. Teachers teacher better in a power cut. There’s a challenge.

Methods that are known to work. 

We must not implement initiatives that ‘could be a wasteful distraction of the very limited time and energy available to teachers’ (p.2)

Written before digital got big, or the Great Pandemic of 2020/2021 the ‘wasteful distractions’ have been PearDeck and Jamboard – apps for the sake of it. My question to a teacher is, how would this play out in the classroom? Would you give each student a pack of PostIt Notes and a fat marker pen and tell them to express a point of view, or provide detail on this PostIt that they then stick on the wall? The results are universally as bad as you can imagine them to be. Few if any students have mastered the QWERTY keyboard so they say little and what they do put up is cryptic – it is not an expression of their learning.

There are many strategies – so which are the most productive to adopt?

What are the alternatives?

A literature review matters. I’d bring back reading and note taking. This can only be done if students are sold what it takes to learn anything. I’d go one further – notes with doodles, with visualisations, with screenshots – even video or record the class if you want.

What works and why?






Not seeing the elephant …

I like this as a way of saying more than ‘not being able to see the wood for the trees’ … where a group of people in the dark when faced with an elephant think in turn that what they are touching is a tree, a spear or a wall … or it could be a hose or a piece of rope.

C2 Learning is making sense, not just remembering.

Learning is an active process of making sense that creates a personal interpretation of what has been learned, rather than a perfect representation of what was taught. (p.8)

I like this, because it is a reminder how in all walks of life we interpret a scene differently. I am faced with it all the time in meetigns where what is said is not reported in the minutes in the way I and others have sometimes interpretted it. By default I record important meetings so that I can create a transcript, listen back and have my own minutes. This of course takes time – you need to be able to trust the person taken the minutes to do so in a complete and unbiased fasion.

Brain > evolving for 6 billion years. 95% non-linguistically. There is so much that I could learn about the brain but I could go down the trap of thinking that neuroscience is the panacea for improving education – it is not. Students do need to be encoruaged to appreciate what the brain is capable of – so many use it for a fraction of what it is capable.

All learning requires us to ‘have a stab’. (p.12)

This tells me to have an open mind and to support all students with whatever they produce. They, not others, should be the measure of success and that always starts with a blank sheet of paper or silience which they have to fill. Even if they write the likes of this:

‘The early Britons made their houses of mud and there was rough mating on the floor’.

Tasks fall into two types

  • 1 Reproduction tasks
  • 2 Reasoning tasks

Students need to create their own meaning.

QQ. Relevant recall questions

Multi Structural response

Relational response

Extended abstract

The SOLO taxonomy

Surface: discrete separate/closed

Deep: related/interrelated/integrated


Through gaining sufficient familiarity

Note > every subject has its epistemology

If learning is structured around principles this enables the learning to transfer their learning to entirely new contexts. (p.25)

Knowledge is a personal meaning that attempts to represent the way things are – that a topic, and a piece of knowledge about that topic, can both be seen from different perspectives. (p.29)

Whole training – not learning styles (p.30/31)

NOTE > Encourage learners to use unfamiliar styles. This is the opposite to the nonesense that has grown around ‘preferred learning styles’.

Remeber too that Left/right brain is a metaphor not fact only for different thinking styles and functions.

Hermann’s ‘whole brain’ model.

Teachers should try to help students to work effectively in all styles – even if this requires students to move beyond their ‘comfort zones’.

HBDI questionnaire www.hbdi.com

Multiple Modes of representation (p.38)

High quality learning required

Structure: establish structure, meaning then add detail.

Deep understanding : relationships between constructs and building new learning on old.

Feedback: to fill gaps and omissions. Dialogue is an excellent way to do this. Speak to the student.

Time and repetition. Six encounters with at least many examples.

Multiple perspectives and representations

C3 Motivation (p.41)

Expectancy-Value Theory

Attribution theory motivation

Maslow’s theory of motivation

Motivation = expectancy x value

NOTE Value of selling education constantly

NOTE Value of successful role models : Jake & Emma in Uniformed Services. 

If we attribute success to factors in our control, then we are more motivated and more successful.

Mental black …

Fixed IQ/Genes

Untapped potential p.47/p/48

Effort rewards (p.49)

Maslow’s Hierarchy (p.50)

Students learn by:

Challenging goals : effort with a sense of direction is required if the memory is going to take any of it in and for that memory to last.

Active learning : anything but passive watching. No wonder students get distracted or fall asleep. If they won’t take notes, then have them create mind maps or doodle. Anything is better than nothing. Get them a fountain pen.

Feedback : on what they have done. A teacher cannot feedback on a blank expression or empty notebook.

Reference for Dweek.C.S. (2000) Maslow A. H. 1970

C4 What works?

Experimental Group / Control Group 

John Hattie’s table of effect sizes

We must compare initiatives and implement the best.

Clearly communicating learning initiatives




Enhanced by feedback


Rank / Influence / Mean Effect Size

Top 10

Reciprocal Teaching (p.65) 


Whole-Class Interactive Teaching

Strategy Training

Classroom Behaviour

Prior Achievement

Phonological awareness

Early Intervention

Piagetian Programs

Peer Assessment

NOTE > Feedback must be informative not merely evaluative – build on what they are doing and open your heart to their efforts. Judge them and they could give up.

Class size < 10-15 is a simple win.

1 to 1 = effect size 2:00. But who gets a private tutor these days?

C6 Marzano’s theory-based meta-analysis

What can work in a primary school can work just as well in university. (p.71)

NOTE > Improving your teaching tends to widen the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged.

NOTE > The teacher’s role is to motivate students by encouraging them to see the value of what they are about to learn.

Table (p.75)

Self-system effect 0.74


Self and others

Nature of the world


Purpose in life

Strategy and methods (p.77)

1.32 same but different

1.24 Graphic representations

2.55 Direct teaching of deeper learning that require students to think deeply themselves

1.16 Deductive strategies

1.14 Experimental theory – they generate a hypothesis about the knowledge

1.13 Highly specific feedback

Things that work (p.78-79)

Marzano (1998) p.80

Some but different

Note taking

Decisions Decisions

Graphic Representations

Specific Goals

Explicit instruction of difficult materials 

Extracting general principles from effect-size (p.82) 

Try thee methods

Then keep asking 

‘Why does this work?’ 

C8 Part III (p.85)

Feedback or assessment for learning

The pattern I try to apply is my Personal Hygiene class

Present = Read Write Listen

Apply = Produce/Product

Feedback = Discuss

Black and Wiliam (1998) 

Can Do > Find this and celebrate it

Can’d Do > Find this and get the student to fix it


Medals and missions


Targets for the next piece of work

Mastery of learning

Avoid grading

Assessment proformas

Students are not likely to score until they know where the goal posts are (p.94)

NOTE > Spoof and peer assessment help students develop this ‘feel’ for good work and know how to produce it. 

Informative Feedback (p.97)

‘These are your goals, this is what you do well, and this is how to get better’.

Clear assessment criteria and goals.

Medals: what they have done well.

Students feel accepted, and their efforts are recognised and valued.

Intrinsic motivation.

Effort / Take Risks

9. Whole-class interactive teaching (p.103)

Have it both ways – both constructivist and behaviourist. (p.105)

Graphic organisers and other visual representations (Effect size 1.2 to 1.3)


Map it

Venn Diagram

Mind Map


Flow Chart

Why do visual representations work? (p.133)

> See the wood for the trees.

Improves structure

Recalls is visually triggered


The visual language is probably closest to the brains’ natural language ‘mentalese’


html: research on thinking maps




Why visual representations work (p.133)

Diagrams cannot contain all the detail so the learner is forced to isolate the key points.

Only structured information can go into long-term memory.

Recall is almost always visually triggered.

These methods work because they require students to pick out key points and to structure their understanding and so make mearnings (p.133)

Study a website – make a mind map (p.134)

CF Hyerle, D (1996) Visual Tools for Constructing Knowledge, Alexandria, Virginia, ASCD





P.136 C.11 Decisions, Decisions

P139-140 Lovely description of a game with cards deciding how to deal with someone who has had an electric shock.

Cards in order



On a spectrum

C12 Cooperative Learning

Jigsaw Activity

Academic Controversy

ALl kinds of strategies and ideas.

C13 Reciprocal Teaching






C14 The Seven General Teaching Principles and PAR

Present > Apply > Review

We will only use a method well if we know why it works.

Seven principles common to high-quality learning and achievement.

1) Students must see the value of the learning.

  • Know the goals and outcomes
  • Believe in them
  • Maslow’s theory of motivation 
  • Self-actualisation 
  • Self-esteem
  • Belongingness
  • Love needs

2) Students must believe they can do it.

3) Challenging goals

  • Activity/Constructivism
  • Evidence
  • Reasoning not just reproduction
  • High participation rates
  • Variety and fun

4) Feedback and dialogue

5) Establish the structure of information and so its meaning

6) Time and repetition 

  • Six encounters at least

7) Teach skills as well as content

  • Prevent-Apply-Review (p.171)
  • Build into learning designer

C15 Feedback through interactive dialogue

CF Getting feedback (p.175)

Depending on the precise strategy you adopt can make a big different to the proportion of students who participate in your class (p.175)

C16 Teaching methods for the orientation phase

Present > Apply > Review

Recall and check relevant prior learning. (p.194)

  • Build new learning on old 
  • Improve weaknesses
  • Build a structure
  • Set or negotiate goals
  • Motivate the learner
  • Write down everything they already know about a topic you are about to teach about.
  • Tell a story – See Kim Tasso for methods.
  • Curriculum map (p.200)
  • Set goals

If the goal is challenging and requires reasoning this will ensure that students learn both while they are listening to you or watching the video.

Negotiate goals (p.205)

First Five Minutes (p.206)

Recall prior learning

Give structure for the new learning 

Set a goal

C17 Methods to present new material

Present Apply Review




… with goals and feedback

28 Methods for Teaching without Talking (p.209)

Petty says that ‘Natures teachers is curiosity’. I would qualify this – human children take a long time to raise for a reason. Try everything is the suggestion – not eveything will work. And give everything a chance at least three times. Note and share these experiences. They can be groupd into three types:

Require little preparation or resources

Require handouts, videos or the Internet

Require preparation time.

  1. Teaching by asking : who? what? why? how? In pairs or small groups for 3 to 20 minutes each.
  2. Class Brainstron : what? why? how? Putting the responses on a board for all to see. Clarify, anything goes.
  3. Thought Experiment : or empathy. Imagine yourself in a given situation.
  4. Round : each person has a minute – used to ellicit a range of points of view.
  5. Snowball – to ensure participation i) each person writes down their response ii) share what they have written in pairs or threes and pick the most important iv) one idea emerges from each group and is explained to everyone. A fun variant of this was to use balloons to write on … as the ideas were reduce a balloon was burst.
  6. Asking with pair explaining : i) each group is given two questions ii) divided further they come up with and answer iii) cross-fertilize by one member of each group explaining to the others iv) as a group explaining to the other.
  7. Export witness : students alone or in a group figure out an answer. A speaker makes their case for the group while others pick holes in it. cf FOG index (p.216) and reading age.
  8. Asking with resources : use method 1 to 6 with a response – especially ‘snowball’ for the quality of dialogue.
  9. Cooperative learning : A range of resurces – give students differing roles. A range of questions. Though provoking questions to answer. Students should have to construct their own understanding of different challenges.
  10. Key points and questions : unfamiliar or challenging resources, identify key points, reduce this to one key point per groups. Share process and outcomes with students.
  11. Does it work? From the resource figure out how a thing works. Name an unanswered question 
  12. Interrogating text : i) skim read, ii) formulate important questions iii) pick out key points iv) agree to an answer to the formulated question.
  13. Transformation : take a leaflet and turn it into a radio item. Take. a TV item and turn it into a leaflet. Take a chronology and tell it as a story or redesign as a mind map.
  14. Peer explaining subtopics : two topics, one each, working in paris one explains to the other. Then together they provide a joint response to the two topics.
  15. Headings : fill in the ‘blanks’ for headings and subheading.
  16. Student graphic organiser : mind-map, Venn Diagram or infographic.
  17. Student visual presentation : creating an audience for their work helps motivate students. (p.220) any visual representation. Their choice with text.
  18. Transform graphic organisers : organiser for another topic.
  19. Decision, Decisions : true and false summary cards. Decide which cards are true and which false.
  20. Student presentation : having worked on a subject pairs / small groups present one aspect of this.
  21. Pairs work out ‘how to’ exemplars : exemplars, work it out for themselves.
  22. Peer teaching : explaining to eachother how to complete a task.
  23. What’s wrong here : spot the errors, marking work. Students are used to seeing errors – their own! Develop skills and fix errors.
  24. Question pairs : Q&A from the text from a webinar etc: reciprocal teaching.
  25. Snowballing questions : (p.233) Working together to produced the best answer.
  26. Independent learning : (p.223-234) go figure!
  27. Spectacles : considering each methods from a set of criteria. So learning content withouth input from the teacher.
  28. Marketplace : questions known, work in teams to create posters, each student has a different coloured pen. Each group has a ‘market stake’ for their poster. Share what they found out. Test without posters. Return to posters to mark their own work. (p.227) Effective management of active learning strategies. (see pp227-233)

C18 Methods for ‘apply’ phase : deep meaning from hard thinking

Present Apply Review

Students have been persuaded of the purpose and value of what they are about to learn. (p.234)

Deep learning requires learners to form constructs and get feedback.

Challenging goals are vital event for low-level learning (p.235)

Activity above all else.

Cut content to the very bone, get the skeleton (structure) of the topic understood, then add the flesh later.

NOTE > If you persist in telling students everything you know you will swamp short-term memories, confuse your students and obscure the very key points and principles you are trying to explain.

However – all the learning provided this way was always followed up with complementary reading and an essay.

Challenging tasks and informative feedback works (p.236)

Direct practice of the main lesson objectives.

Existing constructs are built upon as a result of a task set being completed = feedback on this and the construct improved. (p.237)

How to plan a student activity (p244)

C19 Feedback methods : assessment for learning

Feedback to:




Towards a right answer

Basic knowledge

Right calculations

Correct punctuation and grammar


Making mistakes

Getting it right eventually

A review or practice task is set. That is meaningful, open, challenging, and eventually involves reasoning as well as reproduction. Its aim is to explore the students; understandings and misunderstandings to get these improved. (p.247)

The student works on a task which makes their construct ‘visible’ group task, but a dispute turn of the execution students on their own would have been more engaging for each of them. 

Peer assessment


Lots of methods and p274-75

Why feedback matters

C20 Methods for the ‘review’ and homework phases







Anything new


Students work towards goals.

Learning is summarised and clarified


Students require ‘many encounters with material in different contexts’ (p.277)





They take notes and you ideally ‘check and correct’.


Summaries and handouts

Teach note taking which is central to understanding

As I did with the Personal Hygiene Poster (p.279/280)

C21 Teaching thinking skills and intelligence

Thinking skills (p.285)


Problem solving

Critical thinking

Study skills

Coherent Argument

NOTE > Knowledge is only useful if relevant to the task

Violinists and 10,000 hours (p.289)

Study skills of the 10-12 year olds (Palinscar and Brown 1984)

16-17 years producing work for a 10 year old.

Skills to teach (p.292)

Information Gathering


Asking questions



What/why questions

Productive thinking

Synthesis, creativity and evaluation

Study Skills

Testing a hypothesis

Historical investigation

What would happen if?

Problem solving

Literary critique

Decision making




Exactly what I am doing with podcasts (p.301)

Learning Companies

Read, Think Plan

Research / Brainstorm

Check relevance


Draw conclusions 

Get evidence

Plan the report

White report



Begun with the vital content

Then add the detail

Backwards design

Where do you want them to be

How do you get them there?

C22 What do the best teachers, schools and colleges do?

Set challenging goals

Surface learning

Deep learning

Knowledge of learning

‘They make lessons uniquely their own by changing, combining, and adding to them reading to their students’ needs and their own goals.’ (p. 313) How does self-paced learning achieve this online?

Monitor learning

Provide feedback

Develop student interest

Engender deep interest


Classroom time precious

Went beyond the syllabus

Chose the most challenging options

High Energy


Ladder structure

Note making, not taking

Group work = reasoning

C23 Your own evidence : reflection and experimentation

‘In the end it is your teaching, your students and your context that counts’. (p.319)

‘Circumstances are always changing in education and we must adapt to survive’ (p.320) Just think how this applies to lockdown and remote teaching of 2020/2021.

Involve others:

Identify the problem early

Use research to convince others

Evolution not revolution

Start where you can 

Start small

Involve the students 

Change as you go along

Theory is uss your own construct (p.321)

Flow chart

Reflective journal

Feedback as ‘reality check’

Seven principles that underlie excellent teaching.

Hillier, Y (2002) Reflective Teaching in Further and Adult Education, London, Continuum.

C24 The rational curriculum


More comprehensive and useful than Bloom’s taxonomy

David Moseley et al. (2005) (p.326)

Strategic and Reflective Thinking

Info gathering > Research, asking questions, books, Internet 

Building Understanding > Atomistic/Holistic analysis

Productive thinking

The creative process (p.344)

Inspiration – ideas

Clarification – focus

Distillation – strategise (p.334)

Perspiration – best ideas

Incubation – pause

Evaluation – review


Fit for purpose

‘You can’t argue a person into preferring broccoli over peas if they have tried them and think the reverse’. (p.343)

Vicious and virtuous circles (p.346)

The three-legged stool

  • Opinions
  • Facts/evidence
  • Beliefs/Principles


C25 Management and leadership

‘If you want to make enemies try to change something’ Woodrow Wilson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s