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Top 10 Research-Based Teaching Strategies for Boosting Students’ Achievement


Educators are always looking for new and innovative ways to engage students and improve learning outcomes. This article highlights strategies with high effect sizes based on extensive research for boosting students’ achievement. Read on to discover practical applications to implement in your classroom starting today.

Student success doesn’t happen by accident. It takes careful planning, commitment, and the intentional use of techniques proven to work. While many factors affect learning, certain teaching methods have solid evidence behind them.

This article introduces the top 10 research-based teaching strategies for boosting students’ achievement, summarized from “Top 10 Achievement Boosters” by Eric Jensen.

1. Foster Growth Mindsets

Students’ beliefs about their abilities powerfully influence outcomes. Those with growth mindsets who believe they can get smarter through effort are primed for success. Teachers can encourage growth mindsets by praising effort over innate talent, allowing learning through mistakes, and setting appropriately challenging goals. The impact on achievement is immense, with effect sizes of up to 1.44.

2. Provide High-Quality Feedback

Regular and effective feedback answers three key questions: Where is the student going? Where are they now? And how to get there? With effect sizes ranging from 0.75 to 0.9, feedback must be specific, positive, and focused on effort, strategies, and progress. Critically, it enables students to self-correct. This empowers lifelong learning.

3. Facilitate Positive Relationships

Relationships are foundational. Teachers who foster strong interpersonal connections with and between students see gains around 0.72. Community building requires intention, from designing cooperative lessons to teaching social skills. A sense of belonging fuels motivation and effort. 

4. Make Curriculum Relevant

Students disengage when content feels pointless. But perceived relevance predicts achievement, with strong effects above 0.9. Teachers can increase relevance through real-world application, student interests and choice, cultural responsiveness, and communicating purpose. Relevant curriculum boosts student investment in their learning.

5. Teach Learning Strategies

Meta-cognition and self-regulation drive achievement. Rather than just covering content, explicitly teach strategies like summarizing, self-checking, goal setting, progress monitoring, and reflection. These skills transfer across disciplines and over time, with effect sizes around 0.69. Students who know how to learn are set up for lifelong success.

6. Use Scaffolded Instruction

Scaffolding is the temporary support structure provided during the learning process, tailored to the student’s needs. This includes modelling, guided practice, cues, and progressively removing supports. Scaffolding leads to an effect size of 0.82 by ensuring students can perform just beyond their current competencies.

7. Space Out and Interleave Practice

Mass practice is less effective than distributed practice over time. Spacing out learning sessions with time for mental processing in between leads to better memory consolidation and an effect size of 0.71. Interleaving practice with mixed skills improves the ability to discriminate between concepts (0.35 ES).

8. Increase Student Engagement

Active participation enhances learning. Teachers promote engagement through strategies like classroom discussions, cooperative learning, relevant projects, classroom rituals, games, and movement. Eudaimonic engagement built on student interests and purpose positively impacts achievement (ES up to 0.36) and well-being.

9. Use Multiple Representations

When students interact with content in various ways, retention improves. After initial instruction, have students summarize, draw, gesture, or otherwise recreate the knowledge. Writing, diagramming, and summarizing boost effects up to 1.0 standard deviations. Engaging multiple learning modalities taps into student strengths.

10. Make Connections Explicit

Students often don’t recognize how today’s efforts impact tomorrow’s goals. Making connections explicit, with visuals and specific verbal explanations, helps cement relevance. Explaining exactly how classwork links to desired outcomes yields impressive 1.3 standard deviation gains. Bridge short-term activities to long-term aspirations.

Be Consistent in Boosting Students’ Achievement

Implementing even a few of these high-leverage, research-backed techniques can make a dramatic difference in student learning, engagement, and confidence. While no strategy guarantees success on its own, intentionally employing these best practices daily, compounded over time, cultivates classrooms where all students can thrive. Teaching is a complex profession, but grounding our instructional choices in evidence allows us to maximize our influence despite the challenges.

Thanks for reading

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