Education Endowment Foundation:Using examples to teach grammar to enhance writing in Year 7 (Teacher Choices trial)

Using examples to teach grammar to enhance writing in Year 7 (Teacher Choices trial)

Project info

Independent Evaluator

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NFER

Teacher Choices trial to test using examples and worked examples to teach grammar patterns and the impact on pupils’ writing.

This project was recruiting, but is now full.

This study is a Teacher Choices’ project focused on the use of cognitive science approaches in the classroom. It specifically looks at different uses of examples, including worked examples, to teach grammar in Key Stage 3 (KS3) English, and the impact on pupil’s writing.

Teacher Choices projects
explore some of the most common questions teachers ask about their practice and the everyday choices they make when planning lessons and supporting pupils. The aim of Teacher Choices research is to investigate the impact of these different day-to-day pedagogical practices on pupil learning and to generate evidence that can be readily applied by teachers in the classroom. This is a new and developing strand of EEF projects.

The choices being explored in the current Teacher Choices funding round are intended to be of high interest to schools, a real choice that can be made by classroom teachers, and easy to implement without intensive training and resources.

NFER conducted scoping work into the feasibility of evaluating cognitive science approaches to teaching KS3 English grammar.

This consisted of a rapid evidence review, interviews, focus groups, and surveys with KS3 English teachers and MAT English leads. The findings led to a proposal to undertake a three-armed trial, which would compare different approaches taught for 15 minutes in English classes:

  1. Systematic Worked Examples: Structured use of worked examples, taught as a separate starter’ twice a week. Pupils will learn to purposefully construct each grammar pattern using a sequence of steps. 
  2. Responsive Worked Examples: Responsive use of worked examples, with teachers integrating worked examples within their teaching sequence, based on curriculum and pupil needs. Pupils will learn to purposefully construct each grammar pattern using a sequence of steps. 
  3. Non-worked Examples: Structured use of non-worked examples, taught as a separate starter’ twice a week. Pupils will learn to analyse examples to identify grammatical patterns and explore their effect on the reader.

Schools will receive £100 per participating teacher at the end of the trial, to use at their discretion.

Cognitive science is an area with a good theoretical and experimental evidence base, and with potential to have a greater effect on those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. However, there is less research currently based on day-to-day classroom practice, which is why EEF is evaluating everyday decisions through our Teacher Choices projects.

Most KS3 English teachers use examples in some form, but practice varies and there is currently no clear and practice-relevant advice that is grounded in evidence. This trial aims to extend existing knowledge about the impact of worked examples beyond application in just maths and science, and to realistic classroom contexts.

The project will be evaluated using a three-armed trial with Year 7 teachers randomly allocated to different arms. This will take place in 65 schools, with on average six teachers per school taking part in the trial.

The primary outcome will be assessed using bespoke assessments of grammar knowledge and grammar use in writing. In addition, there will be school visits, observations, pupil focus groups, teacher interviews, and surveys to further understand the effects of the different arms.

A team from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) will be evaluating the programme.

The trial is expected to start in April 2024 in schools, and the final report is due to be completed in Spring 2025.