APPLYING THE RESEARCH ON
INSTRUCTION: AN IDEA WHOSE
TIME HAS COME
We educators stand at a special point in time. This is not because a new decade, century, and millennium have begun (although this phenomenon certainly brings new opportunities and complexities). Rather, it is because the [art] of teaching is rapidly becoming the [science] of teaching, and this is a relatively new phenomenon. It may come as a surprise to some readers that up until about 30 years ago, teaching had not been systematically studied in a scientific manner. This is not to say that effective teaching strategies were absent before 1970. Indeed, educators have effectively used Socratic inquiry as an explicit instructional strategy for two and one half millennia. At the beginning of the 1970s, however, researchers began to look at the effects of instruction on student learning. In fact, the decade before was marked by the belief that school really made little difference in the achievement
of students. This was a conclusion of the now famous report entitled Equality of Edu- cational Opportunity published in 1966 (see Coleman et al., 1966). The report is commonly referred to as the [Coleman report] in deference to its senior author, James Coleman. After analyzing data from some 600,000 students and 60,000 teachers in more than 4,000 schools, Coleman and his colleagues concluded that the quality of schooling a student receives accounts for only about 10 percent of the variance in student achievement.
To understand what this means, consider the following example: Assume you are analyzing the science achievement scores for a group of 100 eighth-grade students from three different schools. These students will no doubt vary greatly in their science achievement. Some will have very low scores, some very high scores, and some in the middle. The findings from the