Understanding Evidence-Based Strategies

Understanding Evidence Based Strategies

There are SOOO many acronyms and other terms related to special education…

This “new language” can sometimes be confusing even for a new teacher!

However, for parents… it can seem endless!

From IEP’s, to ESY, to BIP’s… you pretty much need to have a degree to decipher some of these terms!

Let’s chat about one term that is always thrown around in schools, but very rarely defined for parents… Evidence-Based Strategies.

As educators, we hear about many different strategies that will help us as teachers in the classroom.

However, some strategies do not hold value, while others do. When reviewing evidenced-based strategies, it appears these strategies are beneficial to both student and teacher.

Evidence-based student engagement is defined as a multidimensional construct of both observable and internal engagement (Fredricks, 2011).

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Many times in a classroom setting, the teacher hears students say:

  • “This is so boring.”
  • “This makes no sense.”
  • “When am I ever going to use this in life?”
  • and many other things.

These questions and statements should automatically trigger a response in the teacher to know and understand that they are not providing evidence-based strategies, and is they’re not effectively reaching their students.

Evidence-Based Strategies In Teaching

When focusing on evidence-based strategies, the teacher needs to focus on the academic and behavioral engagement of the students.

This can include:

  • Student time on task
  • Engaged in class activities/assignments
  • Student Effort, Attention, Involvement, and Participation
  • Completing assigned task

Other areas of focus include internal and multidimensional student engagement.

Some examples include:

  • Personal goals/autonomy for the student
  • Student values of learning and success in school
  • Student’s motivation for learning
  • Student’s sense of belonging
  • Student takes responsibility for his/her own learning
  • Student’s perceived idea of schoolwork

In order for this to occur, the teacher and the student must build strong positive teacher/student relationships while building trust.

Also, the teacher must know how to monitor the engagement of the students actively and how to provide continuous, detailed feedback.

When focusing on building those positive relationships, it has to be proactive. The teacher must show and take some interest in the students’ lives by building connections.

The teacher must know what each individual students’ interests are and incorporate this information into daily lessons with the students.

Another helpful way to make learning more interesting for the students is to have reading materials available that connect with the students’ interests or situations in their lives.

An easy way for teachers to gain this knowledge is to take roughly three minutes at the beginning of each class and allow the students to share one thing of interest to them (i.e., sports, extracurricular activities).

Also being a positive relationship builder, the teacher must be willing to greet ALL students at the door in a positive manner. Be willing to acknowledge and understand diverse backgrounds and allow parents to be part of the student’s education.

When focusing on evidence-based engagement strategies, they can be broken down into two strategies (includes examples of each):

Teacher Led:

  • Frequently check-in with students to make sure they understand the material
  • Provide prompting when needed-this can be verbal, written, or gestural
  • Provide Autonomy Support and Choice Making
  • Provide multiple opportunities for students to respond to prompts/questions given

Student Led:

  • Group students in pairs or small groups
  • Provide opportunities for students to take on the Expert Role
  • Provide technology for students to engage with
  • Provide opportunities for collaborative learning

When focusing on data-driven engagement strategies, it is essential to remember the teacher can use a variety of these methods.

Some of the strategies include:

Formative Assessment

  • Cooperative learning
  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Skills Checklist
  • Entry/Exit Tickets-can incorporate technology into these

Anecdotal Seating Charts

Record observations of students in order to:

  • Monitor progress
  • Body language
  • Discussion/Activity Engagement
  • Interactions with Content or peers

Response Cards

  • Paper Point Out
  • Clip Cards
  • Hand Signals
  • Content Categories

Latency and Duration Measuring


  • Initially provide shorter assignments
  • Compare time on task and the actual completion of assignments


  • Focuses on the actual engagement of learning materials
  • Student Attention Span and student engagement
  • Break up the time (intervals-start small and increase over time)

As a parent, have you ever tried some of these strategies? What’s worked for you?

As a teacher, do you have any additional examples of Evidence-Based Teaching that have worked for you?


Picture of Amanda Wagoner, MAT

Amanda Wagoner, MAT

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