There really isn’t any shortage of research trying to identify the most effective instructional strategies (see The Best Articles, Posts & Videos On John Hattie’s Research and The “Best” Lists Of Recommendations About What “Effective” Teachers Do).

However, a new study takes a view I haven’t seen much of before – it’s a meta-analysis focusing on effecting teaching strategies specifically for students from a low “socio-economic status.”

Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall, but there are still ways to access it.

The paper itself begins by giving a good overview of why low-income students face academic challenges (see The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement).

Here are the four top instructional strategies they suggest are most effective with low-income students (from number one to number four), along with how they describe each one:


Tutoring interventions were activities where students got supplemental pedagogical support from an instructor, either one-to-one or in a small group (five students or fewer). Tutors could be volunteers, paid non-teachers, or professional teachers. The interventions included in the tutoring category were often highly structured programs (e.g., manual based) implemented over a limited time period, typically 12 to 20 weeks.

2. FEEDBACK & PROGRESS MONITORING (see The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students)

This category included interventions that added a specific feedback or progress monitoring component, where teachers or students received detailed information about the students’ development. The objective was often to customize instruction to the individual student’s needs. Note that tutoring and cooperative learning are also likely to contain increased feedback, but because such feedback is embedded in the regular set up of these programs, these interventions are not coded in this category. Interventions had to add an extra component of feedback or progress monitoring to be coded here.

3. SMALL GROUP INSTRUCTION (see My Best Posts On The Basics Of Small Groups In The Classroom)

Interventions in this category included instruction where students are placed in groups smaller than regular class sizes. These interventions differed from those in which learning in small groups are built in, such as cooperative learning and tutoring. There was no cooperative learning element explicitly included in the interventions coded in this category, and the groups were larger than what normally counts as tutoring (here defined as more than five students per group).

4. COOPERATIVE LEARNING (see The Best Sites For Cooperative Learning Ideas and The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates — Help Me Find More)

Cooperative learning, or peer-assisted learning, referred to interventions where students work together in pairs or small groups in a systematic and structured manner. Examples included students acting as pedagogical instructors for each other, as when more able students help less able students.


What was the least effective, you might ask?

Extrinsic incentives offered to either students or to their teachers.

No surprise there – see The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students and The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

Here’s another analysis of the same study.