Along with supporting the standards themselves, the research base for the EFF standards further supports a quality standards-based approach to teaching and learning that is characterized by the following program practices:
- The approach to teaching and learning is purposeful. Lessons are explicitly linked to student goals and to themes that matter to them. This requires learning about students’ lives and interests. It also requires giving students opportunities to reflect on their own learning goals and purposes as part of instruction
- The approach to teaching and learning is contextual. Lessons are anchored in real-life contexts and situations, draw upon authentic materials, and target real-life audiences. Students learn that you don’t always use a skill the same way. You must choose strategies that will work for your purpose, audience and situation.
- The approach to teaching and learning is transparent. Both the goals and the process of instruction are made explicit by teachers to students throughout the teaching/learning experience. Learners are asked to use metacognitive strategies to identify what they are learning and what good performance looks like, and to monitor and assess their own progress. In this way, students always have the opportunity to understand what is expected of them; how their skill development and achievement will be measured; and how the instructional process and goals connect back to their own learning purposes.
- The approach to teaching and learning builds expertise. Lessons build on students’ prior knowledge, experiences, and perspectives (of using a skill, of the context in which the skill is needed). Teachers build into their instruction 1) early opportunities for students to reflect on their prior knowledge and experience, 2) opportunities for students to monitor new learning, and 3) opportunities for students to identify how their new learning builds on the old.
- The approach to teaching and learning includes a particular approach to assessment that is informed by what cognitive science tells us about how adults learn and improve their ability to accomplish important tasks in their lives.
- The approach to teaching and learning is systematic and data-driven in that, in all aspects of the program, data about student goals/purposes and student performance is regularly collected. Practitioners continuously and intentionally reflect on that data so that they can make informed decisions to improve the quality of the services they provide.