Book Review

Effective Instruction: A Handbook of Evidence-Based Strategies

by Myles I. Friedman, Diane H. Harwell and Katherine C. Schnepel, Institute for Evidence-Based Decision Making in Education, Columbia, S.C., 2006, 824 pp. with index, $130 hardcover

The school board asks you for a research summary related to the use of classroom tutors. You could complete an exhaustive search of the literature yourself, pull information from journal articles and synthesize research results in time for that next board meeting, or you could flip to page 175 of Effective Instruction: A Handbook of Evidence-Based Strategies and read through 10 pages that summarize this very topic.

Co-authors Myles Friedman, Diane Harwell and Katherine Schnepel have compiled a resource book that nicely summarizes the effectiveness of a variety of instructional strategies, including question-and-answer instruction, maximizing teaching time, computerized instruction and keeping students on task.

The handbook begins with a user's guide that describes the presentation format and summarizes guidelines for making instructional decisions. While a section titled "The Importance of the Handbook" seems self-serving, the rest of the UserÕs Guide is helpful.

Twenty-one instructional strategies described in Part I of the book are strongly supported by research. There is also a short section on promoting instructional strategies as well as a longer section focused on questionable instructional methods, such as ability grouping and portfolio testing.

The book is comprehensive in that it includes information and research spanning four decades. However, several topics currently receiving attention in the media, like the effectiveness of homework and gender grouping, are not included. Also disappointing is a seeming lack of current references. The book focuses primarily on meta-analyses, which take a long time to develop and limit the number of new studies.

Reviewed by Marilyn H. King, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, Bozeman Public Schools, Bozeman, Mont.