I’m excited to say that I am in the process of writing a short book explaining how to implement Rosenshine’s Principles of instruction, aimed at teachers in the US. The opportunity to do this came about after one of my ResearchEd talks about Rosenshine’s 2012 American Educator article – as explored in this post.
What I did not know, until the publisher sent it to me, is that the American Educator article is largely taken from an 2010 issue in the International Academy of Education (IAE) Educational Practices academic pamphlet series. It’s basically the same text.
I posted this on twitter and, to my great joy, I was contacted by Dutch researcher/education scientist Tim Surma who has a great collection of Rosenshine documents. It turns out that the 2010 Principles are a development of ideas Rosenshine has worked on since the 1980s. In 1986 he published a paper called Teaching Functions with colleague Robert Stevens. Tim posted a list of the key teaching functions on twitter. I then searched for the document and what I found was an even earlier Rosenshine document – a facsimile of a typed paper submitted to a US conference in 1982. (See images above). The key instructional functions recorded are almost identical.
There is a lot to say about all this but the main point of this post is to share the text:
1. Daily Review and Checking Homework
3. Guided Practice
4. Correctives and Feedback
5. Independent Practice (Seatwork)Sufficient practice
6. Weekly and Monthly Reviews
Note: With older, more mature learners, or learners with more knowledge of the subject, the following adjustments can be made: (1) the size of the step in presentation can be larger (more material is presented at one time), (2) there is less time spent on teacher-guided practice and (3) the amount of overt practice can be decreased, replacing it with covert rehearsal, restating and reviewing.
|*I’ve kept all original spellings of practice, US-style.|
Interesting Points To Note:
In the 1982 paper, Rosenshine underlines ‘Checks for Understanding’, adopting the acronym CFU. This is appears to be at the centre of the whole process – something I’d whole-heartedly support in my experience. For me, it’s always been the core concept in the Principles – I’ve said only recently that CFU is probably the single biggest common area for improvement in the teaching that I see – so I’m happy to see Rosenshine literally underlining it as being important.
Here is an excerpt from Teaching Functions where he explains how not to do CFU:
The wrong way to check for understanding is to ask only a few questions, call on volunteers to hear their (usually correct) answers, and then assume that all of the class either understands or has now learned from hearing the volunteers’ responses. Another error is to ask “are there any questions?”and, if there aren’t any, assume that everybody understands. Another error (particularly with older children) is to assume that it is not necessary to check for understanding, and that simply repeating the points will be sufficient.
Also, in the 1982 paper, at the bottom, there is a superb final line: with older, more mature learners.. (c) the practice involves covert rehearsal, restating, and reviewing (ie deep processing or “whirling”). I want to see the idea of whirling catch on!
In the text of the 1986 Rosenshine-Stevens paper, they talk about the limitations of the principles:
It would be a mistake to claim that the teaching procedures which have emerged from this research apply to all subjects, and all learners, all the time. Rather, these procedures are most applicable for the “well-structured” (Simon, 1973) parts of any content area, and are least applicable to the “ill-structured” parts of any content area.
They go on to explain that all subjects have ‘well-structured’ elements – some more than others. It’s an important bit of nuance in the implementation of Rosenshine’s principles. Evidently enough, some content needs more teacher-directed instruction, some students need more guided practice, some can absorb information in larger chunks.
There’s a lot more to Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction than could be captured in one article. The 2012 Article isn’t anything new – far from it. These ideas about what effective Teaching Functions are have a long history. For me, this adds weight to their validity especially as the original observational research is now backed up by more recent cognitive science: it all comes together as Rosenshine explains on the first page of Principles.
Thanks to Tim Surma for pointing me toward these fascinating documents. Having done my PGCE in 1986/87 I just wish someone had shown me them rather sooner.
(Teaching Functions 1986 available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230853009_Teaching_Functions)