This report is one of a series of best evidence syntheses commissioned by the Ministry of Education. It is part of a commitment to strengthen the evidence base that informs education policy and practice in New Zealand. It aims to contribute to an ongoing evidence-based discourse amongst policy makers, educators and researchers.
Author(s): Adrienne Alton-Lee
Date Published: June 2003
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This best evidence synthesis Quality teaching for diverse students in schooling is intended to contribute to the development of our evidence-base for policy and practice in schooling. The purpose of the synthesis is to contribute to ongoing, evidence-based and evolving dialogue about pedagogy amongst policy makers, educators and researchers that can inform development and optimise outcomes for students in New Zealand schooling.
Quality teaching is identified as a key influence on high quality outcomes for diverse students. The evidence reveals that up to 59% of variance in student performance is attributable to differences between teachers and classes, while up to almost 21%, but generally less, is attributable to school level variables.
This best evidence synthesis has produced ten characteristics of quality teaching derived from a synthesis of research findings of evidence linked to student outcomes. The central professional challenge for teachers is to manage simultaneously the complexity of learning needs of diverse students.
The concept of 'diversity' is central to the synthesis. This frame rejects the notion of a 'normal' group and 'other' or minority groups of children and constitutes diversity and difference as central to the classroom endeavour and central to the focus of quality teaching in Aotearoa New Zealand . It is fundamental to the approach taken to diversity in New Zealand education that it honours Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Diversity encompasses many characteristics including ethnicity, socio-economic background, home language, gender, special needs, and disability giftedness. Teaching needs to be responsive with in ethnic groups, for example, diversity within Pakeha, Māori, Pasifika and Asian students. We also need to recognise the diversity within individual students influenced by intersections of gender, cultural heritage(s), socio-economic background, and talent. Evidence shows teaching that is responsive to student diversity can have very positive impacts on low and high achievers at the same time. The ten characteristics are interdependent and draw upon evidence-based approaches that assist teachers to meet this challenge.
The ten research-based characteristics of quality teaching derived from the research are generic in that they reflect principles derived from research across the curriculum and for students across the range of schooling years in New Zealand (from age five to eighteen). How the principles apply in practice is, however, dependent on the curriculum area, and the experience, prior knowledge and needs of the learners in any particular context. The body of this synthesis provides examples from the research on learning and teaching to illustrate the principles for different curricular areas across schooling from junior primary to senior secondary classes.
The ten characteristics generated out of the synthesis are summarised below.
1. Quality teaching is focused on student achievement (including social outcomes) and facilities high standards of student outcomes for heterogeneous groups of students.
Research-based characteristics * Quality teaching is focussed on raising student achievement (including social outcomes). * Quality teaching facilitates the learning of diverse