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How Teaching Happens

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How Teaching Happens

Seminal Works in Teaching and Teacher Effectiveness and What They Mean in Practice


15 min read
7 take-aways
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What's inside?

This review and summary of seminal papers regarding effective teaching can help guide teachers, school leaders and instructional coaches to the best educational practices.

Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples


Educators Paul Kirschner, Carl Hendrick and Jim Heal summarize 30 important works in “education psychology research, learning sciences and teaching effectiveness.” Each chapter explains a significant topic, along with its implications and practical applications in daily teaching practice. Serving as a valuable companion to their previous work, How Learning Happens, this anthology covers teacher effectiveness, curriculum development, instructional design, teaching techniques, content knowledge, classroom practices and assessment.


Current educational approaches emphasize teaching at the expense of learning.

Many teachers embrace flawed methodologies. Students appear busy, yet acquire little knowledge. Teaching is often counterintuitive: Sometimes, teachers must do the opposite of what seems right.

Defining or determining teaching expertise involves a complex interplay of human traits. Expert teachers are those who understand the learning content, effective instructional methods and the mechanisms of human learning.

Any teacher’s curriculum should integrate three types of content knowledge: subject matter; pedagogical (how to effectively teach the subject); and curricular (how to teach the subject at various levels). Teachers require three forms of knowledge: propositional (knowledge of evidence-based teaching methods); case knowledge (the ability to draw on the right examples); and strategic (knowing how to overcome the complex problems teaching raises). 

Well-executed teacher certification fosters effective teachers.

The type and level of investment in teacher preparation significantly affects teacher readiness and, consequently, student achievement. ...

About the Authors

Paul Kirschner is emeritus professor of educational psychology at the Open University of the Netherlands. He is a guest lecturer at the Thomas More University of Applied Science in Belgium. Carl Hendrick teaches at Wellington College in the UK. Jim Heal works with Deans for Impact.

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