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It goes without saying that the motivation to teach often comes from a desire to improve student outcomes. And as methodology courses may teach, employing research- or evidence-based instructional strategies can have a greater impact on students’ success. However, as teachers sometimes find, it is not always easy to put instructional theory and research into practice across the academic subjects of an elementary classroom. Of course, putting theory into practice can be even more challenging when you consider the diverse learners who make up any classroom, including students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as those who learn in different ways.

Graduates of traditional teacher-training programs have likely taken courses that focus on instructional methods, such as with various approaches for teaching phonics. Formal mentoring programs can also help teachers transfer classroom learning into effective instructional practices. Beyond these approaches, teachers may also want to consider advanced coursework to further develop their understanding of methodologies and the ability to apply that knowledge in the classroom.

Students in the online Master of Education in Elementary Education program at Mississippi College, for example, take a course called Current Methodology in Elementary Education. This core course explores research and theory as they relate to methodology used in elementary schools, with opportunities to demonstrate effective uses of current methodology.

What Are the Benefits of Studying Theory and Research?

Classrooms are complex environments, with learners who have diverse strengths, needs and learning styles. What does it mean to use research-based strategies in the classroom to reach all learners? A Google search that returns over two million results for “research-based instructional strategies” hints at the seemingly impossible task of answering that question.

Advanced coursework that pairs current theory and research with methodology can help pre-service and practicing teachers gain clarity. Take reading, for example. It is well documented that helping struggling readers catch up is challenging, with the gap in academic achievement growing over time. Coursework that connects current theory and research with methodology can help teachers pinpoint what might work for their students, such as the use of adaptive technologies for struggling readers.

How Can Teachers Keep Up With Current Methodology?

When it comes to current methodology, both novice and experienced teachers may find it especially daunting to effectively integrate technology into teaching and learning. Looking at educational technology trends and their many innovations, how can teachers possibly keep up?

With an emphasis on advances in technology, a course like Current Methodology in Elementary Education can help educators learn how to identify the best technologies for their classrooms and develop the skills for using those tools to maximize learning. Whether that means discovering how to take that interactive whiteboard to new levels or learning how to make the most of a 1:1 program (in which a school provides each student with one electronic device such as a laptop or tablet), relevant graduate coursework in current methodology can help teachers use technology in ways that enhance instruction and propel their students toward deeper learning.

Some might say that what constitutes great teaching has nothing to do with research. However, advanced coursework that connects the research behind “research-based strategies” to the real-life context of a classroom can enable teachers to implement effective instructional approaches that reach all their students.

Learn more about the Mississippi College online M.Ed. in Elementary Education program.


ASCD: Diverse Teaching Strategies for Diverse Learners

National Council on Teacher Quality: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know

Nellie Mae Education Foundation: Integrating Technology With Student-Centered Learning

Edutopia: How to Integrate Tech When It Keeps Changing

ASCD: Five Reasons Readers Need Technology

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