What is Evidence-based Thinking
Evidence-based thinking refers to the use of evidence to provide solutions or make decisions. When we say Evidence-based Thinking, evidence, in this case, may refer to information, facts, data or scientific research. In evidence-based thinking, decision makers know that scientific research or data alone is insufficient to make a decision and hence have to follow a systematic format, to reach the desired conclusion.
For any given situation, the decision maker has to critically evaluate the validity, accuracy, and applicability of the objective evidence, before he chooses it. The second step, which is the subjective part involves critical thinking. The decision maker has to apply the knowledge derived from the scientific evidence, with his own cognitive abilities to evaluate the situation on the ground and come up with an appropriate solution.
The term “evidence-based” refers to any strategy or concept that is based on the integration of best research evidence (also known as objective evidence) and critical thinking (known as subjective evidence). The term was first coined in the ’90s, in the field of medicine, but today it has extended to cut across different fields and diverse disciplines.
Adaptations of Evidence-Based Thinking in Education
Even though the concept of evidence-based thinking started in medical practice, the concept has been adopted by various sectors, where it is used to provide solutions or map out strategies as required. One sector that has found various ways to adopt Evidence-Based Thinking is the Education Industry. Below we discuss various ways it is applied to everyday learning
Evidence-Based Thinking and Lesson Goals
The educational sector has learned from Evidence-Based Thinking that having clear lesson goals for students at the start of the class or the start of the semester, increases student engagement and student performance. When the purpose of the lesson is clearly stated, the student has a better understanding of what’s expected of them and thus, they are able to learn better and deliver on assignments, class deliverables and exams.Clear lessons goals help students understand better what matters most and a clearly defined focus increases learning.
Show and Tell
It is mostly common knowledge that shows and tell is a great way to teach and a great way to learn. When teaching, teachers should try to pass along information in different ways and not just by talking. Show and tell lets students to learn and acquire information using their other senses and not just their hearing. They get to see how a thing works and function, how they are put together etc and this creates a more lasting memory for the students. Also, having students participate by doing their own show and tell is a great way to improve their learning. In Evidence-Based Thinking and learning, show and tell should always be included.
Mind maps are graphical techniques that can be used to help students summarize what they are being taught. Mind maps provide maps that show the interrelationships between various concepts and presents graphical representation that is easier to understand and absorb. In addition to mind maps, there are other graphical tools that help facilitate Evidence-Based Thinking and some of them are flow-charts, Venn diagrams, process maps etc.
Checking for Understanding
It is not enough to get students to memorize lessons or concepts. Teachers must teach with the goal of getting students to understand fully what they are being taught and Evidence-Based Thinking helps with this by checking for understanding practices. This is done by making sure students are engaged by asking them a question, encouraging class discussions, and even class debates.
These open-ended discussions will cause the students to understand the topic more and be more engaged. Using questioning techniques at different stages of the lessons also helps students understand better and so they are able to follow the teaching at an equal pace at the teacher as opposed to being left behind.
One major step to improvement is by giving and getting feedback. Improvement comes after measurement and so providing feedback to students is a great way to get them to seek to improve themselves and also a great way to get to track their improvement. Feedback involves letting students know how they perform at various tasks and telling them what they could have done differently.
This feedback should not be surface level but it should aim to show the students the little mistakes and thinking patterns that led to their failure or errors. That way the second time around they will be able to avoid these mistakes and do better. Giving feedback also means giving students a second chance to prove themselves.
If a student fails to understand an assignment and does something completely different, giving them a second chance to have a go at it is a great way to teach that student and impact lasting knowledge. In conclusion, giving feedback provides your students with a tangible understanding of what they did well, what they did wrong, of where they are at, and of how they can improve.
Giving Students Time
Speaking of giving second chances, teachers should be flexible with students on how much time they need to learn. Strict deadlines should not be enforced except in certain circumstances. In addition, students learn at varying paces and confining every student to learn at a given time is detrimental to their overall learning experience.
Students should be encouraged to learn and re-learn certain things till they understand it properly before they are moved to the next stage. Failure to do this will means that some students will be left behind or that the teacher will be teaching things that students do not have the capacity to grasp. That is not the evidence-based thinking way of teaching.