Publish at January 21 2018 Updated January 06 2022

Explicit teaching and pedagogical soundness

Supporting learning in spite of everything

The end of the semester is approaching, an instructional day is on the calendar, weather conditions could lead to school closures...the teacher once again finds herself short on time and resources.

How do you get students to review and make sure they have understood the material in such a short time? These are common situations that impede the desire for strategic development of learning. It appears that the overriding concern in any teaching/learning situation remains student success.

Making Students Successful

During the course of their course, teachers are likely to face problematic situations that significantly reduce the amount of time spent on learning activities.

Even if making students succeed is not a goal that holds a few recipes, certain pedagogical practices have proven themselves throughout the history of education and continue to develop in our schools.

Evidence in this area demonstrates that close accompaniment of students and actions that stimulate their reflective thinking contribute greatly to their academic success. The contextual dimension that sometimes prevents the class or certain students from evolving must be taken into account in strategies to foster learners' interrelation with knowledge. Explicit teaching specifically develops a set of strategies whose goal is to reach the student in his or her knowledge and understanding of the objects of knowledge.

The Contextual Dimension

Succeeding gifted students is rarely a problem. In contrast, our high schools receive a multiply disadvantaged student body each year. Some students come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, a situation that creates a disparity in the means to instrument learning. Other students with educational delays or mild deficiencies are integrated into average classes, classes that are said to be "skimmed" due to the classification of students in options with concentrations in sports-studies, arts and sports or in international education programs (IEP). In this context, learning issues are numerous, and constraints or contingencies must be an integral part of the teacher's lesson planning.

Explicitly Teaching

There are different pedagogical approaches that lead the student to engage in his or her learning task. Teacher devotion does not seem to make our struggling students successful, that is, this pedagogy that puts control of his or her learning in the hands of the learners by giving him or her the responsibility of managing cognitive operations and assimilation of knowledge.

The role of the teacher who practices explicit teaching is multidimensional.

  • He must lead the students to become aware of the object of learning,
  • to grasp its own stakes concerning the efforts to be made to appropriate it.
  • He explains the ways of working that will be in scene during the conduct of the course.
  • The teacher verbalizes his thought and presents how the different cognitive operations will be articulated.

If there is nothing new in this way of conducting a course, at least this one has the undeniable advantage of situating the learner well through the learning process. According to the proponents of this type of teaching, good planning must be based on three times: a time of preparation, a time of interaction in class, and a time of consolidation which consists of the handing in of homework and periods of revision of the material. (Gauthier, Bissonnette, 2005, 2017.)

Despite an important influence of Piaget and Vygotski for the development of thinking in education sciences, the behaviorist approach remains an institutional adoption observed in many schools.

In France, for example, a working group linked to the General Directorate of School Education published a dossier in 2016 "aiming to clarify and illustrate the concept of explicitation as thought of in the referential of priority education."

Without conforming to the dogma of direct instruction, the group puts forward "a set of gestures, postures and pedagogical practices to be conducted in the daily life of the classroom," promoting the understanding and engagement of the student in his or her learning task. The tendency to maintain a traditional form of teaching is strong, while attempts are made to improve it.

Digital Mediatization Is Not Evacuated

A 2014 review of literature published by the Center Facilitating Research and Innovation in Organizations (CFRIO) indicates that the way a teacher uses digital technologies and resources as media to engage students in learning has a significant influence on student academic achievement.

Using technological supports to support instruction as well as providing students with tablets or computers to "search, discover, learn, review, create" are a set of means consistent with a course approach consistent with explicitness.

However, many of the considerations from the research cited by CEFRIO and the Center for Research and Intervention on Student Achievement (CRIRES) relate to the importance of teachers' pedagogical practices as well as institutional policies.

In light of what has offered significant results for academic success and student motivation to perform well, serious consideration should be given to the pedagogical choice of explicit instruction and the support of digital technologies to make learning happen.


CEFRIO (2014). Usages du numérique dans les écoles québécoises: L'apport des technologies et des ressources numériques à l'enseignement et à l'apprentissage. Literature review. With the collaboration of CRIRES members.

Cusset. P.-Y. 2011. What does the research say about the "teacher effect"? Technical Report 232, Center for Strategic Analysis.

Gauthier, C. 2017. How do we plan for the organization of learning? Consensus conference, Pedagogical differentiation. National Council for School System Development, French Institute of Education. With the collaboration of Steve Bissonnette, Ph.D., TELUQ, Quebec.

Working Group. Teaching more explicitly. Everyday situations and professional gestures. Bureau de l'éducation prioritaire de la DGESCO, 2016.

S. Bissonnette, M. Richard, C. Gauthier, Effective pedagogical interventions and the academic success of students from disadvantaged backgrounds , Revue française de pédagogie (RFP), vol. 150, no. 1, 2005, pp. 87-141.

Explicit teaching: an adapted method for students in difficulty. - Alexandre Roberge - Thot Cursus


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