Teacher Choices

This project is a pilot of EEF’s new Teacher Choice trial-type. Teacher Choice trials will test the everyday choices that teachers make when planning their lessons and supporting their students. Examples of the type of questions that Teacher Choice trials might 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 Choice approach, we will run two Teacher Choice 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.

The two Teacher Choice trials that will form this pilot will each test a different choice that classroom teachers can make. The first Teacher Choices trial 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. The choice that will be tested through the second Teacher Choice trial, that forms part of this over-arching pilot, will be confirmed towards the end of October 2019.

Why are we funding it?

Since 2011, EEF have funded 190 projects across all stages of our programme pipeline – pilot, efficacy and effectiveness. Over this time, we have developed a robust approach for testing the impact of programmes and have generated useful evidence for teachers and headteachers.

However, we have identified that teachers and headteachers are also keen for 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 the pilot, we are keen to explore innovative evaluation designs, including approaches that mean trials can run over shorter time frames 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 related 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 have designed an evaluation to answer our over-arching questions about how best to run Teacher Choice trials, as well as research designs for each of the 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 Autumn 2019.

For more information about the evaluation approach, visit: https://www.nfer.ac.uk/for-schools/participate-in-research/a-winning-start-a-teacher-choices-trial-school-information-sheet/.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Autumn 2020.