What are the 10 high impact teaching strategies?

Happy teacher reading a book with a student at school.

Published: March 29th, 2023

The “high impact teaching strategies” (HITS) are a collection of 10 instructional practices that can be used to improve student learning. Based on the findings of thousands of studies from across Australia and the world,  the HITS are recognised as the most reliable strategies for improving learning outcomes.

If you’re interested in high impact teaching, then this article is for you. We list the 10 high impact instructional strategies below, and provide tips on implementing them into your classroom.

What are the high impact teaching strategies?

The Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET), which produces resources to support evidence-based practice in the classroom, released the HITS in 2019 as part of the Victorian Teaching and Learning Model. The model, which makes up part of the government’s Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) 2.0, supports teachers to focus on teaching and learning that has a high impact.

To identify the HITS, renowned researchers in education, John Hattie and Robert Marzano  , reviewed and synthesised thousands of studies, ranking hundreds of teaching strategies by the impact they have on student learning. Of these strategies, the 10 HITS were found to be the most effective.

This means that when compared to other strategies, using the HITS increases the chance that students will learn a new concept or skill. However, the HITS are not intended to replace all other teaching strategies. Instead, they can be used alongside other strategies to enhance your practice.

What are the benefits of HITS education?

The HITS are based on the findings of thousands of studies into what works in the classroom. For new teachers, the HITS are a source of reliable evidence-based strategies that you can confidently use in your classroom to improve learning. For more experienced teachers (who are no doubt already familiar with many of these strategies), the HITS can be used alongside other strategies to enhance your teaching approach. Regardless of your level of experience, mastering these high level classroom teaching skills will ensure your teaching approach has maximum impact.

What are the 10 HITS teaching strategies?

1. Setting goals

All lessons should have clear goals, and these goals should be communicated to students so they know what success looks like. Using goals, high impact teachers clearly explain what a student needs to understand or be able to do at the end of the lesson. Setting goals not only helps students understand what is required of them, but also enables teachers to better plan their lessons.

Goals should be meaningful and relevant to the students, and should be designed to challenge their abilities, while still being realistic and achievable. This means that different students should have different goals. It’s also important that teachers acknowledge and reward any effort students make towards achieving their goals.

2. Structuring lessons

Structuring lessons involves taking a considered approach to creating lessons that are engaging and meaningful for students. A lesson structure maps learning to different activities, and includes clear steps. Structuring lessons ensures activities are effectively linked to learning goals, and that time in the classroom is optimised. Lesson structures provide students with transparent and predictable routines. Lesson structures that change frequently create unpredictability in the classroom, which can be detrimental to student learning.

A well-structured lesson begins with setting the purpose of the lesson, articulating clear goals, and outlining the content to be covered. Transitions between lesson parts should be smooth, but apparent. It’s important to call attention to main ideas throughout the lesson, and to end the lesson with a review of the main points. 

3. Explicit teaching

Explicit teaching focuses on providing students with clear, precise instructions and explanations about the concepts and ideas being taught. In other words, showing students what to do and how to do it. Explicit teaching also provides students with opportunities to apply their knowledge and demonstrate their understanding through practice.

When practising explicit teaching, set a clear goal, articulate the goal to students, and then demonstrate how to achieve the goal, providing examples. Students should then be given an opportunity to practise what they have learned. At the end of the lesson, revisit what the lesson has covered, check your students’ understanding with questions and assessments, and provide feedback and additional support where required.

4. Worked examples

You can use worked examples to demonstrate how to complete a task or solve a problem. This method allows students to compare their own thoughts and strategies with those of the experts, providing them with the opportunity to gain insight into the thought process behind solving the problem.

Worked examples demonstrate exactly what success looks like, and provide a model of the problem-solving process that students can refer to. Having this model reduces the cognitive load on students, allowing them to focus on understanding the process required to complete a task. Students can also use the worked example as a reference when practising.

When presenting a worked example, each step should be explained clearly. Worked examples should also be differentiated based on the student’s knowledge of the topic.

5. Collaborative learning

Collaborative learning encourages students to work together to learn new concepts, providing an opportunity for practice and collaboration with peers. This high impact teaching strategy allows students to build their knowledge through the exchange of ideas and perspectives, while also encouraging critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and team building.

Collaborative learning can take many forms, such as small group activities, student-led discussions, or whole-class projects. When designing group learning activities, make sure to incorporate team building skills, such as negotiation and collaboration. To promote interaction, it’s a good idea to select the members of each group based on shared interests, friendships or academic ability. It’s also advised to assign roles to members of the group to encourage students to take responsibility for tasks, and to design tasks so that students can share information and expertise.

6. Multiple exposures

Multiple exposures involves exposing students to the same content multiple times. When students are exposed to information multiple times, the information becomes more meaningful and memorable. Additionally, repeated exposure to material allows for increased understanding as students build upon what they have already learned and gain new insights into the topic.

The idea behind this strategy is to give students continued exposure to topics or materials in different, yet related, ways. Instead of introducing a subject once and expecting students to understand it, multiple exposures offer teaching opportunities over an extended period of time.

When using multiple exposures, it’s important to provide students with feedback to ensure they don’t repeat the same mistakes multiple times.

7. Questioning

The practice of questioning involves asking questions in order to prompt students to think deeply and critically about a concept or topic. Questioning can also be used to elicit immediate feedback on whether a teaching strategy is working.

Questioning is a powerful strategy for engaging and challenging students, prompting them to link concepts to their own lives, or encouraging them to engage in meaningful dialogue with their peers. By engaging in the practice of questioning, teachers can help students develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as build upon prior knowledge. Generally, questions should be open-ended, allowing for student exploration, as questions with only one ‘right’ answer can stifle critical thinking.

Questioning can also be used as a way to get immediate feedback, check your students’ understanding of a topic, and evaluate the effectiveness of your teaching strategies.

For questioning to work, students must feel safe to share – that means fostering a respectful classroom environment, where students are not judged for holding different views, and where students feel safe to contribute.

8. Feedback

Feedback can be used to check a student’s understanding, evaluate the effectiveness of a teaching approach, and assist with learning.

While the ultimate purpose of feedback is to improve student learning, it’s important that it flows both ways – from teacher to students, and vice-versa. Two-way feedback ensures that students receive advice that can improve their performance, while teachers are made aware of how their teaching is impacting students.

Feedback should be detailed, provide specific guidance on how to improve, and encourage further effort. Feedback should be focused on the task (rather than the person), and can be given by both the teacher and a student’s peers.

9. Metacognitive strategies

Metacognitive strategies help students become more aware of their own learning process, understand how to learn better, and make more effective decisions when it comes to studying. They also help students find motivation for learning.

In other words, metacognitive strategies teach students how to teach themselves, enhancing the effectiveness of all other teaching strategies. They also empower students to learn outside the classroom.

Metacognitive activities include helping students set goals and self-monitor their own progress.

10. Differentiated teaching

Differentiated teaching emphasises customised learning and instruction. In this approach, you design and deliver tailored lessons that cater to the unique needs of each student in your classroom. Differentiated lessons should cater to different interests, abilities, and ways of thinking and learning. This allows your students to acquire knowledge at their own pace, meaning that all students are challenged and all students achieve success, regardless of their academic ability or learning style. Differentiated teaching also allows for accommodations for students with special needs, enabling them to obtain an education equal to their peers.

Lesson plans should allow for differentiated teaching, enabling you to make adjustments based on the needs of different students. To enable differentiated teaching, make sure to regularly assess your students to monitor their progress and identify if and where extra support is needed.

How to combine technology and the HITS in your classroom

You’re likely already using some, if not all, of these high impact teaching strategies in your classroom. And if you’re not, then now is a great time to incorporate some of these techniques into your next lesson.

But even if you think you’ve mastered these strategies, there’s always room for improvement and innovation. By leveraging EdTech tools, you can find new and convenient ways to improve student learning with the HITS.

For example, educational technology enables you to practise differentiated teaching with ease, personalising your lessons to the needs of individual students. Rather than relying on a lecture-style format, you can use a variety of technology-enabled methods (such as video, dynamic infographics, interactive games, podcasts, audio books and music) to tailor your lessons to different academic abilities and styles of learning.

As another example, technology can help your students practise collaborative learning, making it easier for students to brainstorm with their peers, work on projects together, and to give and receive feedback. For instance, students can collaborate on shared digital games or work together as a class on a problem displayed on a front-of-class interactive display.

Technology can also be used to collect feedback, enabling you to more easily keep track of how your students are performing. Digital tracking systems can keep records of test scores and other important metrics, allowing you to keep track of how a student is progressing, and to measure the effectiveness of different teaching approaches.

Apps and teaching tools can also help with structuring and planning lessons. For example, lesson-creation tools designed specifically for teachers can help you create dynamic and interactive lessons, enabling you to easily source lesson resources, create interactive activities, and quickly tailor each activity based on your subject matter.

These are just a few examples of how you can use technology to deliver high impact teaching strategies, but the possibilities are almost endless. If you’d like to learn more about integrating educational technology into your classroom, get in touch to request a demonstration of our Interactive Display or cloud-based teaching software.

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