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Explicit teaching: What is it and what are the benefits?

At Haileybury we use an explicit teaching method that is proven to help students achieve better results. Find out more about the method and its benefits. 

NEWS 27 Jan 2024

Countless peer reviewed academic studies and decades of research have shown that explicit teaching (or explicit instruction) is an extremely effective teaching practice. Haileybury uses this method to ensure students are given the best possible chance of success. Grenville Green, Deputy Principal (Junior School) at Haileybury explains:

“The introduction and continued development of explicit instruction over the past 18 years at Haileybury has brought outstanding success for our students of all ages. Through explicit instruction, Haileybury students develop strong foundations with their literacy and numeracy skills. This strong foundation supports students to thrive across all areas of the curriculum and gives them every opportunity to excel.”
Grenville Green, Deputy Principal (Junior School)

With that in mind, we have taken a closer look at what explicit teaching is and why it works.

I do, we do, you do

Explicit teaching is a teaching framework that draws on the science of memory and learning to enable students to achieve outstanding results. It can be broken down into three steps:

  • I do: Teachers provide clear instruction on a task, clear goals for the lesson and examples or models for the students to follow.
  • We do: Students are then guided as they practise the task to purposefully reinforce their learning. Teachers support students by providing timely feedback and prompts to help them master the subject.
  • You do: Once teachers have worked with students to strengthen their understanding of a concept or subject, students are encouraged to engage in independent practice at their ability level. Practice attempts are monitored, and formative assessment is used as necessary to reteach and review topics.

The goal of explicit teaching is to build meaningful connections between new learning and prior learning in a student’s long term memory. Learning is chunked and linked, which reduces the strain on working memory where research has shown that a maximum of 4–7 pieces of information can be held. To avoid what is called ‘cognitive overload’ (when this number is exceeded), explicit teaching carefully manages the introduction of new concepts and provides spaced opportunities for revision to ensure learning is transitioned to long-term memory, where it can be retrieved and built on in future.

The many benefits of explicit teaching

The Australian Education Research Organisation conducted a review of more than 328 studies around explicit teaching and the results are clear:

  • Has a positive impact on student achievement in mathematics, reading, spelling, problem solving and science.
  • Can benefit a wide range of students from junior to middle school, including students with additional learning needs.
  • Makes learning more accessible to students to increase their engagement.

Furthermore, explicit teaching can help enable learning of complex concepts by breaking these down into manageable chunks and teaching foundational skills before developing advanced understanding.

The Haileybury approach

Haileybury uses explicit teaching for one simple reason — it is proven to be effective and helps students to achieve better results. We have developed a unique approach, delivered by our experienced teachers that supports our students in their learning and helps them achieve their full potential.