What Is Evidence-Based Instruction?

As educators aim to enhance learning outcomes and help both general education and special education students reach their full potential through innovative educational techniques, the spotlight is on evidence-based instruction. This educational approach provides techniques, methods, and principles derived from rigorous examination of data, to ensure the best possible outcome for students struggling with different learning disabilities like ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and more. 

Evidence-based instruction is rooted in research and empirical evidence, and it aims to bridge the gap between theory and application when it comes to educational practices. Besides the various benefits it provides, including data-driven decision-making and professional development, it also poses certain challenges. In what follows, we’ll analyze the advantages and some of the disadvantages and challenges of evidence-based instruction. 

What is evidence-based instruction, exactly?

Evidence-based instruction is an educational approach that is grounded in data and research, so any methods or techniques employed by educators as part of this approach are already proven to be effective. This type of practice aims to provide support for all students, whether they’re enrolled in a general education classroom, a special education classroom, or a mixed classroom. The approach provides methods and practices that can be easily customized to serve the needs of each student, and it also focuses on including the student in this process as much as possible. 

By this we mean the students are involved and aware of their progress, their challenges, their goals, and the desired learning outcomes, and they work with the educator to meet these goals. This is not about having high expectations and putting pressure on a student to reach their goals; it’s about making them part of the process and providing them with data-driven resources and tools that are proven to be effective towards their goals. 

Benefits of evidence-based instruction

There are multiple benefits to evidence-based instruction, from having a solid research foundation to rely on to opportunities for professional development for educators. 

Tried-and-true practices: the educational practices within evidence-based instruction are all based on solid research and years of data collection and interpretation. Research and data can come from different fields related to education, including neuroscience, behavioral science, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology. 

Data-driven decision-making: evidence-based instruction eliminates much of the guesswork when it comes to testing out educational practices in the classroom. The methods and strategies proposed by evidence-based instruction have been proven effective in improving student learning outcomes, through controlled studies. Teachers have access to research and data to guide their instruction, and they can continue improving and adding to this research by constantly monitoring progress and collecting data to adjust instruction as needed. 

Individualization: evidence-based instruction is not a one-size-fits-all type of educational approach. Instead, it recognizes diversity and promotes personalized approaches to meet the specific needs of each student on a case-by-case basis. Teachers can rely on evidence-based instruction practices to personalize teaching methods depending on the student’s learning style, preferences, abilities, and challenges. 

Professional development: besides getting to support and help students improve learning outcomes and overcome their learning disabilities, teachers can also use evidence-based instruction to expand their skills and educate themselves. Educators can stay informed and up-to-date with new research in education, and have the opportunity to further enhance their instructional skills based on thorough research and facts. 

Challenges of evidence-based instruction

While evidence-based instruction offers a myriad of benefits to students and educators alike, implementing it effectively and reaping the rewards can be challenging. Firstly, having access to research studies and data and translating that into classroom practices can be tricky. Academic journals and research publications are often subscriber-only, and empirical studies can be quite stuffy and complex, so teachers have to set aside time to delve into available research and figure out how to implement it. 

Secondly, and possibly most importantly, educational systems and even some professionals in the education sector can be resistant to change. In this case, implementing new teaching practices and adding new tools and resources can pose a real challenge, especially when a school or district has been using a different instructional approach for many years. Promoting a culture of research-based education and shifting mindsets is often the biggest challenge educators have to face when trying to implement evidence-based instruction in their classrooms. Of course, limited budgets and resources, as well as limited time, can also make it more difficult to implement certain evidence-based educational strategies effectively. 

Despite these challenges, educators are recognizing the potential of evidence-based instruction in serving the needs of struggling learners. Moreover, with more research coming out regarding the effectiveness of certain evidence-based learning practices, teachers are becoming more confident in their skills and are using their expertise to continuously improve their teaching methods in the classroom. 

Are you interested in learning more about evidence-based instruction or want to further expand your skills as an educator to better serve the needs of your students? Read our blog for more insights, and stay informed of future training sessions hosted by Da Vinci Collaborative experts. 

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