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on 16 January 2009
This book is simply outstanding. It is the only education book I have read from cover to cover - and since then I have returned to different chapters on a regular basis.

Easy and clear to read, each page has great ideas that you can put into practice in your classroom regardless of which age group or subject you teach. The ideas are useful for teachers, heads of departments and senior managers.

The key is that the book tells you how effective each idea is likely to be so that you can focus your time efficiently - lots of these teaching ideas could be used as INSET for all staff.

A colleague new to the profession would do well to read Mr Petty's other book 'Teaching Today' first.

If the Government wants to improve education, it should give a copy of this book to every teacher and allow them 30 minutes a day to read it.
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on 5 August 2015
Not for me but it was for my granddaughter - she likes it and found it very useful
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on 6 June 2012
This is essential for educators; new, seasoned, tired, fresh. Essential.
Many educational books are hypocritically dull and boring or full of confusing elitist techno-speak. This book covers everything you need to be an outstanding teacher and it does so in a clear style.
I have spent (literally) hundreds of hours in CPD sessions when they would have been better off just buying me this book. A lot of what I thought I understood from my CPD has been made clear thanks to Geoff Petty, it's quite scary how much I have found out I only half understood.

The book does what it says on the cover. It discusses pedagogical approaches that have evidence to back them up, with examples, and with any possible caveats. The layout is clear, the language is clear and the examples are a big help. It is quite easy to flick to a page and read bits of the book without trawling the whole work which makes it useful as a reference guide. The book also discusses how the evidence was gathered and assessed for its effect size so that you don't have to take the authors word for it. Oh, and Petty's explanation of Hattie's meta-analysis was better that Hattie's explanation of Hattie's meta-analysis which led to another "oohhh...I see..." moment.

It's ironic that I bought this book just as I was having a clear out of my other books purchased whilst in teacher training many moons ago. You'll find them on Amazon marketplace soon. They're in perfect condition.
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on 9 August 2010
As a mere NQT, I have found this book far more accessible and applicable than Hattie's 'Visible Learning', on which it is very strongly based. It's a great book that I'm sure I will re-read and re-consult many times.

The content is unquestionably great. But despite the (on the face of it) clear and useful use of differing forms of sub-titles, bold text, italic text, icons, summary boxes etc. - it remains rather poorly structured and, in places, I think *wrongly* (erroneously) stuctured.
For example: Chapter 9 describes 'Whole Class Teaching Methods'. p106 describes 'Model 1: Active teaching model'. But there's no subsequent subsections described 'Model 2:....' etc.
For example: Chapter 21 describes two constructivist approaches to teaching skills: Snowballing and Bridging. Snowballing has a subtitle in a plain, Size 12 font. Bridging is sub-titled in a different font, Size 16, and emboldened! I don't think this is a deliberate attempt at emphasising one approach over the other - it's an error in the hierarchical structure of the book.
Given the book's emphasis on appropriate graphic organisers and visual representations and the fact it's a second edition, this is really quite poor. It seems a weakness in editing/publishing, rather than of authoring.

But beyond these publishing 'errors' (?), I guess I found the whole book rather 'mixed up' and poorly structured ('poorly' is too strong an adjective, but 'weak' in any case). Very many topics and techniques are scattered and repeated throughout the book that makes it really quite difficult to go back and re-read a particular 'topic'.
This 'weakness' is, I'm certain, just a result of the ambitious-ness, novelty and breadth that the book addresses. But it does seem likely to me that in future years the author will find better ways of presenting the material (in probably a series of smaller books, or differently-structured chapters?).
In fact, perhaps, the (IMO) non-perfect structure is ultimately *helpful* in that it requires the reader to re-formulate the content into a strucure that makes sense to themselves (very contructionalist!).

To summarise, I am finding it very stimulating and educational, but believe it will have a relatively short shelf-life before being overtaken by texts adopting a better structure.
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on 15 July 2013
I'm a big fan of evidence-based policy and so was excited to receive this book. My excitement turned to disappointment when I started reading the chapter on learning styles. Petty starts well, referring to Coffield et al's demolition of learning style theories but then went on to talk about "left-brain right brain" learners, (31) and the whole brain model (32). Petty claims Coffield "rated highly" this theory. Well since we're talking about "evidence" let's see what Coffield actually did say:

Martin (1994) describes the Herrmann `whole brain' approach to teaching and learning and how it appeared
to benefit a large client company in the UK. However, apart from the impressive business portfolio of the
Ned Herrmann Group and the six pages of testimonials from participants in Applied Creative Thinking
courses, there is very little published research evidence to convince sceptics of the potential value of the
Herrmann approach for large-scale use in post-16 education and training.(84)

It almost certainly needs further work if it is to be used with a wider constituency of younger, less experienced and less literate post-16 learners than those to be found at higher levels of responsibility in the business world(84)

It is presented as a tool for learning, for use in a climate of openness and trust. However, like other such tools (for example Kolb's LSI, Honey and Mumford's LSQ and McCarthy's 4MAT), its potential to improve the quality of teaching and learning, formal and informal, has not yet been substantiated in a rigorous manner, other than to the satisfaction of its proponents. (84)

I have to wonder if Petty actually read the report at all. For someone promoting "evidence based teaching" his acceptance of the `split brain' myth is somewhat surprising. There is a large body of research disputing the left-brain right-brain dichotomy, such as:


Clearly Petty's evidence doesn't extend to well-published refutations of this. His "brain teaching" section goes on for pages talking about the debunked notions of left/right brains and asking if you are a "whole brain teacher" or not, -without even a whiff of criticism of this. This is the second edition so really there is no excuse for this at all.

It's clear from this that Petty is no academic and the "teaching for dummies" layout of the book further cements the notion that this is not a serious work of research. "evidenced-based" isn't just a nice title, it has meaning. Claiming to present the evidence means you must be thorough and if you live by the sword I'm afraid you must die by it as well.

I felt rather sick when I discovered the truth about this book. I hope I can get a refund and I hope that this review will stop other people making the same mistake I did.
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on 13 February 2008
If you only buy one book about teaching - get this one.

Teachers are bombarded with books about teaching which claim success for the authors pet ideas. Rarely is any proper evidence offered.
This book is quite different. It simply looks at all the research evidence available and gives practical ways to implement best practice.

Petty has deep insight into the way children learn and has distilled key ideas and general principles.

He recognises that teachers do not improve by simply repeating other people's good ideas. He recommends (and gives evidence to back it up) that schools develop a culture of teachers discussing learning, trying out different ideas and sharing best practice. It is this dynamic which creates excellent schools - not the implementation of the latest government edict.
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on 23 February 2010
Geoff Petty has done what he has said on the tin... my pupils have improved there grades considerably. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut with your teaching, Geoff actually inspired me to not only read what other people have tested in the education world, but actually put it into practice.

Whether you have been teaching 5 minutes or 50 years, buy this book! It will benefit not only you but your students as well! Geoff also gives you lots of support online at his website. What an incredible guy!
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on 7 August 2007
I used this text to support a continuing professional development course in active learning that I taught to practicing teachers. The focus on an evidence-based approach was very effective in convincing the class that these methods can be applied in a manner that promotes greater student achievement, holistic development and an engaging, rewarding challenge to the teachers themselves.

There is a wealth of useful information condensed in this book with an immediate examination of the methodologies that are shown to have the greatest positive impact on teaching and learning. This encourages experimentation from the beginning and several of my students took to "Assessment for Learning" with a passion. In fact, formative assessment is examined throughout the text.

The structure of learning is thoroughly examined with context provided by a useful summary of the SOLO taxonomy. This emphasis on structure is continued throughout the text and on completion of our course most teachers had gained considerable insight into the epistemology of their subjects in a way that allowed them to encourage critical thinking skills in their students.

There are chapters on teaching "thinking skills" that should be read by anyone engaged in teaching as they are very thought provoking and provide practical advice as to how to add these skills to typical classes. The book is supported by an excellent website that provides additional information and useful handouts.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book as a thought provoking text. It is unfortunate that there are some editing errors that can irritate, and poor organisation in places - don't get frustrated though; I am convinced that careful reading of this book will add a richness to your teaching.
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on 18 March 2008
I have found this book invaluable (along with Petty's previous book 'Teaching Today') in providing me with numerous ideas for active teaching. The ideas can be adapted for almost any subject and mean delivering sessions is now so much more enjoyable. The research findings behind these ideas makes so much sense and has completely changed my approach to teaching. Geoff Petty's website is worth a visit for additional information and video lectures.
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on 16 September 2015
I think sometimes that "old lag teachers" tend to get into a... (I don't want to say it, but I will) rut. They've been teaching a while, and have found what works for them in the past, and stick to approaches they feel most comfortable with, irrespective of whether the approach they use gives the "biggest bang for their buck" in the classroom.

The bottom line in teaching is improving future prospects for students. Improving results can help that. This book gives the teacher a variety of options. It says effectively "If you do x, it will improve results by y%, if done well, and here's why..." This gives the teacher options in the limited time that he or she sees students each week, and allows the teacher to have alternatives to what she or he does at the moment.

I've read in reviews that people don't like the "why it works" explanation of new teaching approaches, and that's ok (it's psychological, and can be viewed as much art, as science), if you buy the Science behind x improves results by y%, then there's still no reason not to give something a whirl in your classroom.

The other grumble I've read is that people don't believe the Science. That's understandable too, and if you don't like the idea that x causes a y% increase, don't buy the book.
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