The Art and Science of Teaching
Robert J. Marzano
Six Steps to Better
Educational Leadership is pleased to announce a
new column this year— The Art and Science of
Teaching—and a new columnist—noted researcher
Robert J. Marzano. Internationally known for his
practical translations of current research into effective classroom strategies, Marzano is cofounder of
Marzano Research Laboratory, which synthesizes
teacher research into components that schools can
use for gains in student learning. A well-known
speaker and trainer as well as a prolific book author,
he draws from 40 years of experience in education.
Each month, Marzano will focus on one teacher-tested instructional strategy in education.
After examining for decades the research on instruc- tional strategies and
reflecting on my involvement in
hundreds of studies, I can say one
thing confidently: If you examine
all the studies conducted on a given
instructional strategy, you will find
that some studies indicate the
strategy improves student achievement whereas other studies indicate
Take, for example, the strategy of
providing feedback. Researchers Avraham Kluger
and Angelo DeNisi (1996) synthesized the findings from 607 studies on that strategy. They
found that the average effect of providing feedback to students is a 16-percentile-point gain.
However, more than one-third of the studies
indicated that feedback has a negative effect on
student achievement. Simply using a strategy
does not guarantee positive results. Rather, it’s
how someone uses the strategy that determines
whether it produces great results, mediocre
results, or no results at all.
So what’s a teacher, school, or district to do?
Certainly, the answer is not to ignore the
research. In fact, the research is the first place to
start. You should scour studies to identify those
strategies for which research shows positive
effects on student achievement. Next, teachers,
schools, and districts should conduct their own
informal (and formal) studies on how well an
instructional strategy works in their particular
context—with their students, their grade level,
or their subject matter. No strategy is foolproof.
No strategy is proven. You have to see how it
works in your particular setting.
Research is beginning
to tell us what does or
doesn’t make a given
They Won’t Forget the Crocodile Teeth
In their research, classroom teachers have taught
us something about how to best use specific
instructional strategies. Let’s begin with a strategy
for teaching vocabulary referred to as the six-step
process (Marzano, 2004). It involves the
1. Provide a description, explanation, or
example of the new term.
2. Ask students to restate the description,
explanation, or example in their own words.
3. Ask students to construct a picture, pictograph, or symbolic representation of the term.
4. Engage students periodically in activities
that help them add to their knowledge of the
terms in their vocabulary notebooks.
5. Periodically ask students to discuss the
terms with one another.
6. Involve students periodically in games that