Encouraging a debate in lessons can improve grades, research finds

According to research published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), encouraging pupils to argue and debate in class can help boost their results in English, maths and science.

The EEF suggests that if primary pupils explain their answers and reason with their peers, it can help them to make more progress in these core subjects.

A total of 78 primary schools in England with higher than average proportions of disadvantaged pupils took part in the trial of "dialogic teaching", devised and piloted by Professor Robin Alexander, chairman of the Cambridge Primary Review Trust.

Around 2,500 nine- and 10-year-olds were given lessons in which they were encouraged to explain their answers and reasoning, and to debate, discuss and argue with others about them.

This was done by instructing the teachers to ask open questions and to encourage pupils to do more than simply stating their answer.

An evaluation of the initiative by academics at Sheffield Hallam University found that those pupils who took part in the study made an average of two months more progress in English and science than a similar group of pupils who did not take part, and therefore formed a control group.

In addition, poorer students who took part made two months more progress in maths.

Overall, pupils who took part made a month's more progress in the subject opposed to the control group.

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