This is a very short summary of a research paper published by Nature last December: A RCT for assessment of active human-centred learning finds teacher-centric non-human teaching of evolution optimal (Buchan, Hejmadi, Abrahams et al. 2020).
Despite the uninspiring title, the authors provide a rare thing: convincing evidence that one approach is more effective than another. The authors found that year 6 pupils taught evolution in year 6 through teacher centred approach outperformed those who we given a hands-on pupil centred approach.
The authors also found that the example organisms mattered, Pupils taught in the context of a human-like fossil hand performed less well than pupils taught in the context of a trilobite.
This finding strongly supports other evidence favouring teacher-directed learning over more child-centred approaches (e.g. here). If you want your pupils to catch up as quickly as possible, stand at the front of the class and teach.,
If you’d like to hear me explain more about the paper, I’ve videoed a short (7:30min) talk.
If you’d like to read the paper itself (which I recommend) look here.
Buchan, L., Hejmadi, M., Abrahams, L. et al. A RCT for assessment of active human-centred learning finds teacher-centric non-human teaching of evolution optimal. npj Sci. Learn. 5, 19 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41539-020-00078-0