Ineffective Practice

Many beliefs and practices in education are what Professor Graham Nuthall described as 'folklore'; they exist because we have always believed them, or because they suit the prevailing philosophy. 

Training in research-based practices

 

Ineffective Practice

Whole Language

Whole-Language High Jinks (Moats, L 2007) Thomas B Fordham Institute
Louisa Moats challenges the literacy programmes which were re-packaged as “scientifically based” in the wake of changes to funding in the USA. The principles of what constitutes a sound programme are just as relevant in other countries.

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Thank you Whole Language (Anonymous 2012) illinoisloop.org website
The 'gift' that keeps on giving.

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The Three-Cueing System: Help or Hindrance? (Hempenstall K 2002) Direct Instruction News. 2002 Fall: 42-51.

A detailed review of the origins, validity and effectiveness of the three-cueing (“searchlights”) model for teaching children to read, a cornerstone of whole language. Kerry Hempenstall shows that while the method itself is discredited, it springs up with monotonous regularity in educational settings.

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A Whole Language Catalogue of the Grotesque (Kozloff M A 2002) University of North Carolina, Wilmington website
Martin Kozloff demonstrates the intellectual contortions of whole language proponents by citing their own words on the subject. He adds a few choice words of his own.

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Rhetoric and Revolution: Kenneth Goodman’s ‘Psycholinguistic Guessing Game’ (Kozloff M A 2002) University of North Carolina, Wilmington website

A critical analysis of the philosophical and theoretical foundations of Whole Language. Citing its founders in their own words, Kozloff raises some difficult questions for proponents of this approach. 

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Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery: Anatomy of Folly (Kozloff M A 2004) University of North Carolina, Wilmington website

Kozloff critiques the theoretical and logical base for Reading Recovery and argues that government support in terms of time and money invested is unwise.

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Small Bangs for Big Bucks (Wheldall K 2013) Notes from Harefield

A critical review of the effectiveness of Reading Recovery, a high-cost intervention which not only has low impact, but is often presented by its promoters as having more impact than it really does.

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PIRLS Before Swine or Why Australia Sucks at Reading (Wheldall K 2013) Notes from Harefield.

The alarming results of the 2011 PIRLS international study for Australia and New Zealand are compared with results in other countries where basing reading instruction on scientific evidence has been taken more seriously.

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Reading Recovery and the failure of the New Zealand national literacy strategy (Tunmer W E, Chapman J W, Greaney K T, Prochnow J E and Arrow A W 2013) Learning Difficulties Australia 45: 3 Massey University Institute of Education

In the wake of the results of the 2011 PIRLS international literacy comparison, Tunmer and Chapman responded to the lack of progress in New Zealand literacy between 2001 - 2011 with this critical report on Reading Recovery and a national approach to teaching reading uninformed by scientific findings on teaching reading.

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Reading Into Reading Recovery (Patterson R 2013) The New Zealand Initiative

Rose Patterson summarises the concerns of Chapman and Tumner in their critique of Reading Recovery in New Zealand, and challenges complaceny about the effectiveness of the programme and the national approach to teaching reading in general. 

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Learning Styles

Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence (Pashler H, McDaniel M, Rohrer D and Bjork R 2008) Psychological Science in the Public Interest 9(3)
Four eminent academics outline the prevalence and popularity of learning styles theory before showing why there is no sound basis for the approach. If you are in doubt about learning styles, this article will clear up any confusion.

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Learning Styles (Wheldall K Macquarie University Special Education Centre 2011) MUSEC Briefings: Issue 30
Kevin Wheldall concludes that while learning styles theory may be popular amongst teachers and even some academics, it lacks a substantive basis and should be approached with caution.

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Learning Styles FAQs (Willingham D undated) danielwillingham.com website
A short, clear explanation of why cognitive scientists can confidently dismiss learning styles as unproven and unnecessary for good teaching.

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Learning Styles Don’t Exist (Willingham D 2008) YouTube
Dan Willingham’s video presentation shows how learning styles are a theory of the mind, not a theory of instruction, and argues that teachers do not need to plan their teaching based on this popular but unhelpful construct.

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Learning Styles, science, practice and Disneyland (Willingham D 2013) danielwillingham.com website
Daniel Willingham urges caution with the interpretation and application of learning styles. While varying the modes of presentation in a teaching sequence can be helpful, basing a theory of learning on the tenuous evidence base is quite another.

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The Myth of Learning Styles (Reiner C and Willingham D 2010) changemag.org website
A clear and compelling outline showing that the concept of learning styles is not only unproven, but that it can distract educators from useful scientific findings about how students differ and how these differences impact on learning. The implications for higher education are discussed, and these may be usefully generalised to other educational settings. 

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Visual and spatial interventions

Keeping an Eye on Reading: is difficulty with reading a visual problem? (Hempenstall K 2013) RMIT University via NIFDI blogpost
This article examines the case for visual perception problems as a cause of reading failure, and explains why the “underlying process” route has not yet found an effective, quick-fix solution to reading difficulties.

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Irlen Tinted Lenses and Overlays (Hyatt K J Macquarie University Special Education Centre 2010) MUSEC Briefings: Issue 22 

A short summary of the research on using tinted lenses to address reading difficulties. The conclusion is that the technique is unsupported and may cause unnecessary expense to families whilst diverting funding from evidence-based reading interventions.

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Is Brain Gym®an Effective Intervention? (Spaulding L S, Mostert M P and Beam A P 2010) Liberty University Faculty Publications and Presentations: 148

An analysis of the extant research material on Brain Gym®. Both on face validity and effectiveness data, no support is found for the claims of this programme.

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Brain Gym® (Stephenson J and Wheldall K Macquarie University Special Education Centre 2005) MUSEC Briefings: Issue 5

This short summary of the evidence for Brain Gym®demonstrates that there is no scientific basis to the claims made for the approach.

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Dore / DDAT Exercise Program (Stephenson J and Wheldall K Macquarie University Special Education Centre 2006) MUSEC Briefings: Issue 11

A succinct assessment of the evidence supporting an exercise-based approach to helping students to overcome learning difficulties. 

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Myths, theories and ideologies

Dyslexia or Dysteachia? (Engelmann, S - Children of the Code)

In this interview, Zig Engelmann discusses the reasons for reading failure and what is required for effective instruction that prevents and remediates such failure. 

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Neuromyth 6: The Left Brain / Right Brain Myth (CERI undated) OECD, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation website
Neuromyths abound in education when speculative ideas are given undue credence by teachers. One of the most popular, and persistent, myths is that there are 'left-brained' and 'right-brained' people. While there are undoubtedly differences between individuals and the way they think, there is no clear evidence that such thinking is restricted to a particular hemisphere of the brain.

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Developmentalism - an obscure but pervasive restriction on educational improvement (Stone J E 1997) societyforqualityeducation.org website
John Stone analyses how the influence of developmentalist ideas has created unseen –and unnecessary - barriers for children’s progress, through its influence over curricula and teacher expectations.

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Should There Be a Three-Strikes Rule Against Pure Discovery Learning? The Case for Guided Methods of Instruction (Mayer R E 2004) American Psychologist January 2004 14 – 19

In this short but lucid article Richard E Meyer proposes that three serious problems effectively rule out pure discovery learning as a basis for formal education.

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Ten Faulty Notions About Teaching and Learning That Hinder the Effectiveness of Special Education (Heward, W L 2003) The Journal of Special Education. 2003 Winter; 36 (4): 186 – 205.

An overview of how wrong thinking develops poor practice. 

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Constructivism in Education: Sophistry for a New Age (Kozloff M A 1998) University of North Carolina, Wilmington website

Martin Kozloff critically analyses the philosophical and rhetorical problems associated with much ‘constructivist’ pedagogy. He argues that the prevalence of muddled thinking in education is responsible for widespread educational mediocrity.

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Ed Schools in Crisis (Kozloff, M A 2002) Watson School of Education, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Martin Kozloff outlines the political and philosophical alignments with the education profession and challenges the ineffectiveness of much initial teacher training, arguing for more rational and empirical methods to be used in determining which approaches should be applied. 

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Training in research-based practices