A study by Jacobus Cilliers and Stephen Taylor reports the results of a randomized controlled trial of two different approaches to improving the teaching of reading in primary schools in South Africa.
More than two hundred schools took part and were randomly assigned to three treatment groups: a training intervention group, a coaching intervention group, and a control group. Teachers in the first intervention group received a one-off training session. Teachers in the second intervention group were visited on a monthly basis by a specialist reading coach who monitored their teaching, provided feedback, and demonstrated teaching practices. Both interventions provided teachers with structured lesson plans. Teachers in the control group received the usual level of government support and in-service training.
The study measured the impact of the intervention on both student learning and teaching activity in the classroom. They found that:
- Coaching improved students’ reading by 0.24 standard deviations compared to students in the control group.
- Training had a smaller impact of 0.12 standard deviations.
- Teachers in both interventions were more likely to practice group-guided teaching techniques (splitting students into smaller reading groups sorted by ability), although this impact was larger for teachers who received the coaching intervention.
Source (Open Access): Cilliers, J., Fleisch, B., Prinsloo, C. & Taylor, S. (2018). How to improve teaching practice? Experimental comparison of centralized training and in-classroom coaching (RISE Working Papers 18/024). Oxford, UK: Research on Improving System of Education.