Teacher Choices

This is a pilot of a new EEF strand of projects. Teacher Choices trials will explore some of the most common questions teachers ask about their practice, testing the everyday choices teachers make when planning their lessons and supporting their students. 

Examples of the type of questions that our Teacher Choices trials might seek to answer are: 

  • Does phoning home improve student behaviour? 
  • Does marking books lead to more learning than whole-class feedback? 
  • What are the most effective ways to read with a class?

To pilot the Teacher Choices approach, we will run two Teacher Choices trials to understand more about how to run these types of projects in the future. Learning will include: how best to define the choices that we’ll be testing; how we evaluate these projects in a robust but efficient way; and how we should best communicate these results to teachers.

Each trial will test a different choice that classroom teachers can make. 

  1. The first Teacher Choices trial – A Winning Start – will test two different starter types that teachers could choose to start a lesson with: a quiz-based starter, building on research evidence about the potential benefits of retrieval practice; and a discussion-based starter, which is another popular way to start lessons and may have a positive impact on pupil motivation to learn. Recruitment to this first trial has now closed and the trial is currently being delivered in schools.
  2. The second Teacher Choices trial – The Story Time Trial – will test two different approaches to structuring whole-class reading in Year 4 and Year 5 classes. The trial will compare using 15 minutes of whole-class reading time to either read continuously to children or to read with interruptions for questions about the text. The first approach may promote enjoyment of the text and also enable children to be exposed to more text and vocabulary, while the second approach may provide children with time for reflection as well as modelling the kind of questions that experienced readers ask themselves during reading. This trial will look at which approach is better for reading comprehension and reading enjoyment. It is recruiting until the end of February 2020. You can find more details here and you can register your school's interest in taking part here.

Why are we funding it?

Since 2011, the EEF has funded 190+ projects across all stages of our programme pipeline – pilot studies as well as efficacy and effectiveness trials. Over this time, we have developed a robust approach for testing the impact of programmes and have generated useful evidence for teachers and senior leaders to be able to apply.

However, we have identified that teachers and headteachers are also keen for the EEF to answer research questions which can more directly feed into existing teaching practice. These questions are often not related to the impact of manualised programmes, which require schools to purchase particular resources or training, but are instead about the everyday choices that teachers have to make when planning their lessons and supporting their students.

Through this Teacher Choices pilot, we are keen to explore innovative evaluation designs , including approaches that mean trials can run over shorter timeframes and with smaller numbers of schools than in typical EEF trials. We are keen to explore designs that enable us to fund groups of projects in a single area, for example looking at a range of similar choices that relate to improving classroom behaviour.

How are we evaluating it?

We have appointed a team from NFER, led by Ben Styles, to evaluate the programme. NFER has designed an evaluation to answer our over-arching questions about how best to run Teacher Choices trials, as well as research designs for each of the two trials that forms this pilot. The protocol for Trial 1 will shortly be uploaded on this page, with the Trial 2 protocol coming later in Spring 2020. 

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Autumn 2020.