The big picture

So you’ve read about our five sources of evidence, and our summary of findings from the field of neuroscience… But what’s the big picture from the evidence? And what does this mean for our teaching?

A diagram showing how evidence from classroom experiments and from the cognitive sciences feed in to evidence based teaching

Let’s have a quick recap. We’ve had a look at three sources for classroom evidence, and two sources from the cognitive sciences. We’ve also had a whistlestop tour through some general findings from neuroscience. But now we need to bring it all together!

Here’s a reminder of our five sources of evidence (swipe horizontally or click on the arrows):

Visible Learning by John Hattie

Teaching & Learning Toolkit by the Educational Endowment Foundation

Classroom Instruction That Works by Robert Marzano/ Ceri Dean

Principles of Instruction by the International Academy of Education

Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning by the Institute for Educational Sciences

Pulling it all together:

The big picture

What we’ve done here at EBTN is pretty similar to an archaeological dig. At first the archaeology team might find some isolated artefacts: bones, pottery, the outline of a building, historical records. Initially the team members draw different conclusions and make educated guesses based on what they see, but as they gather more and more evidence, a clear picture emerges. The small pieces of evidence form part of a bigger picture that makes sense. Any further information or artefacts that are found fit into this overall big picture.

That’s pretty much what has happened in educational research. There are thousands of different research papers, each a small piece of the puzzle. These small pieces have been put together by some of the major meta-studies we present in this section. Clear patterns have emerged from these reviews of the evidence, so that we can see the big picture.

A diagram showing how evidence from classroom experiments and from the cognitive sciences feed in to evidence based teaching

We can start off with a basic structure for our classroom teaching: Present, Apply, Review. But the problem with this is that it doesn’t include some of the findings from the research – we also need to make sure we have the right conditions and context, that we activate prior knowledge before teaching anything, and that we get our students to repeat what they have learned to help them get the new knowledge into their long term memory.

If we use this model, we incorporate what we know from neuroscience about the learning process with all the research findings we have looked at from classroom evidence and cognitive science. This model also looks spookily similar to the simplified model of the learning process (adapted from Geoff Petty) that’s shown on the right. Pretty cool huh? Keep reading onto the next page to find out all about our Six Steps to Outstanding Learning, which is based on this structure.

We’ve put together a table with our six steps to outstanding learning and put a tick by each technique that is highlighted in our five sources of evidence. As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap, which is reassuring!


A table comparing all five of our sources of evidence, shown with our Six Steps to Outstanding Learning



Read more



Want to read more? Here’s the five sources we have used here at EBTN. Click on the title to buy your own copy, or to see it online if it’s free.

John Hattie: Visible Learning

Educational Endowment Foundation: Teaching and Learning Toolkit

Robert Marzano/ Ceri Dean: Classroom Instruction That Works

International Academy of Education: Principles of Instruction

Institute for Educational Sciences: Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning

There’s plenty more fascinating research out there. We’ve drawn on some of it for the material in this website, and you might enjoy looking at it too! Click on the title to buy your own copy.