Good, T.L. (2010). Forty Years of Research on Teaching 1968-2008: What Do We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then, In R. J. Marzano (Ed.). On Excellence in Teaching. (10th). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Since this was my introduction to Thomas Good, I appreciated that he did a quick recap of his career as a researcher on teacher effectiveness.  Moreover it seems like a bold stroke of humility for him also to say that after 40 years “the field’s progress has been modest and useful, but less than expected”.

The reason for this modest progress is primarily due to how hard it is to relate what teachers do to what students learn, at least in any scientific way.  Good puts it thusly.

Today, researchers have a greater appreciation of how difficult it is to isolate the classroom—to separate home, societal, community, school, teacher, curriculum, and student variables. Students’ achievement is affected by many factors other than what students and teachers do in the classroom; however, what teachers do in classrooms is open to influence and remains a critical policy issue. (Marzano, 2010, Kindle Locations 503-506)

That no one would refute that teachers still make a difference in student learning is posited next.  Along those lines, and endeavoring to answer the question of what exactly are the practices of above average teachers, a study that Good describes from 1970-1979 seems like an early pre-cursor to constructivism, or at least a rediscovery of constructivism.

These studies highlighted the value of the amount of time spent on understanding material and showed in several experiments that student achievement was higher when the ratio of time spent on exploring the meaning of the content was greater than time spent on practice (Dubriel,1977; Shipp & Deer, 1960; Shuster & Pigge, 1965; Zahn, 1966) as cited in (Marzano, 2010, Kindle Location 526).

I appreciated the connection that Good makes with Jacob Kounin, since I have just completed the course on classroom management (EDU6130).   In the textbook for that class Charles (2011) mentions Kounin as a forerunner of modern classroom management.  Good’s summary of Kounin agrees with that of Charles, namely that a well-managed classroom, with effective transitions and interesting lessons positively affects student student learning.  Thus another important ingredient of teacher effectiveness, besides constructivist approaches, is a well-managed and interesting classroom.

Good’s next point, that effective teachers waste none of the precious seconds allotted to them and their instruction, is a theme that is repeated often in Lemov (2010).  We may smile at teachers striving to get papers passed out in 8 seconds or less, and simultaneous paper separation and stowing, but that does not negate the results of Lemov and his disciples at Uncommon Schools.

That Good next cites some general principles of effective teaching from his long-time collaborator Jere Brophy.  What I noticed here is that Brophy’s list has a good correspondence to SPU School of Education principles of HOPE, with the exception of E.  Here’s the breakdown and the correlation as I see it.

Principles of Effective Teaching (Good & Brophy, 2008)

Principle H, O, P, or E?

Teacher expectations—Teachers who obtain good achievement gains accept responsibility for teaching their students. If students do not understand entirely, teachers are willing to reteach in a different way. They fully convey the belief that students can learn. 

I think this principle corresponds to Principle H, namely that effective teachers “Honor student diversity, development, and their right to learn.”  That an effective teacher honors the student means they accept responsibility for teaching or re-teaching as necessary

Proactive and supportive classrooms—Students learn best in supportive classrooms that offer a caring community in which academic and social goals are clear. Supportive classrooms allow students to take intellectual risks. In supportive classrooms, the focus is placed on learning, not simply on “knowing” or on right and wrong answers. 

I think this also is principle H, where the classroom is designed to be supportive.

Opportunity to learn—Opportunity to learn is a big variable in countries like the United States where there is no common curriculum (Porter & Polikoff, 2009). In countries with a national curriculum, opportunity to learn is not a major variable as students largely receive a known curriculum. However, in the United States, fourth-grade students in one class may receive a “facts” curriculum while students across the hall receive a “problem solving” curriculum. In America, teaching effects are a product of curricula as well as what teachers do.

I think this is principle O, especially O2, appropriate challenge in the content areas.

Curriculum alignment—In effective instruction, content is aligned to create a visible and coherent plan for achieving curriculum goals. Teachers carefully differentiate between more- and less-important content and allocate time accordingly.

I think this is Principle O, Offer an organized and challenging curriculum.

Coherent content—In effective instruction, content is organized and explained in sufficient depth to allow students to learn meaningfully. More important concepts need greater consideration, and major points should not be cluttered with inappropriate details. Good teachers achieve coherence both within and across lessons. 

I think this is also covered in Principle O.

Thoughtful discourse—Thoughtful discourse allows for the voicing of various opinions and the exploration of alternative explanations. Thoughtful discussion goes beyond defining what “is” to explaining why, solving problems, and considering future implications. Thoughtful discourse can occur in both teacher-led and student-led activities. 

I think this is covered by Principle P, namely P1 where intentional inquiry is encouraged.

Scaffolding students’ ideas and task involvement— Teachers actively support student learning activities and strive to help students understand concepts more fully. In many classrooms, discussions focus mainly on what is known or just found. Good student scaffolding can help learners move from their present knowledge to future knowledge, just as teacher scaffolding can help students to understand at a higher level.

I think this is principle H, especially if H2 is interpreted as scaffolding for involvement/access to content material.

Practice/application—Students need ample opportunity to practice concepts, and once they have firmly acquired the learning, they need opportunities to apply concepts in new contexts. Periodic review is needed to enhance students’ ability to apply key concepts.

I think this is Principle P, if the P2  differentiated instruction component is interpreted broadly as giving practice and context to concepts.

Goal-oriented assessments—Tests, quizzes, and papers need to focus on important curricular goals. Such assessments help students to focus upon important content. Students need to know that their daily activities are important. These activities serve as learning objectives for showing what knowledge teachers think is important and how students can best display that knowledge.

I think this is also Principle P, if P3 standards-based assessment piece is broadened to include activities that

Good continues his argument with a quick summary of international studies of teacher effectiveness and what they can teach us (not much we didn’t already know).  He proposes that more extensive research is needed, even though the trend is not for larger and more comprehensive studies.  He also makes an argument for curriculum and teacher practice reform, but acknowledges that teachers will essentially change when they are good and ready.

And finally, to point us a way forward in learning more about the problem before we propose a solution, Good reiterates his belief that we need more proactive research and less reactive behavior (NCLB) more “culture of evidence” and less “culture of assertion”.  It is when solid research tells teachers what they could be doing instead of what they should be doing that real change will occur.  He should know.


Charles, C.M. (2011) Building classroom discipline. (10th ed). Pearson.

Good, T.L. (2010). Forty Years of Research on Teaching 1968-2008: What Do We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then, In R. J. Marzano. (Ed.). On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College. Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition.

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  • halgera  On September 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I appreciated reviewing your thoughts on this initial chapter review. The connections you made to the Principles of HOPE were quite clear; hopefully this will guide your own thinking as your internship progresses. I also agree that we need to remember our overall use of instructional time in the classroom. Remembering the “hurdle rate” (as you noted in a previous post) is key to this, too.

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