“These Are America’s Favorite Fast Food Restaurants” (Marco’s Pizza!)

Favorite Pizza Chain

These are American’s top spot for a quick bite.  5 Hours Ago | 00:41

In an industry rife with competition, quick-service restaurants are pulling out all the stops to turn patrons into loyal customers.

Diners aren’t just looking for quality food or speedy service, they want both. Chains that are able to adapt to changing consumer demands are better equipped to keep customers walking in the front door.

Market Force Information is out with a new set of restaurant rankings culled from the responses of more than 11,000 people and aggregated into a composite loyalty index that measures satisfaction with the food quality, service, value and restaurant experience, among other things.

The company averaged each chain’s score to determine which had the highest loyalty rating.

Here’s what Market Force found:

Favorite pizza chain

Marco’s Pizza

Marco's Pizza

Source: Marcos
Marco’s Pizza

In a crowded field of pizza chains, Marco’s Pizza came out on top. The chain scored 75 percent on the loyalty index, edging out Papa Murphy’s, which held the top spot for three straight years.

Marco’s Pizza received strong ratings in food quality, atmosphere and cleanliness.

Close competitors were Papa Murphy’s with a score of 71 percent and Pizza Ranch, which scored 64 percent.

The lowest ranked pizza chains were Pizza Hut, Little Caesars and CiCi’s pizza.

Marco’s University Rises To The Occasion


Published: Sunday, 8/30/2015 – Updated: 2 days ago

Pizza U. rises to the occasion

Toledo’s Marco’s pizza chain teaches franchise owners to make dough



Trainer Chuck Blevins of Lincoln Park, Mich., spreads cheese on a pizza held by Sara Ragsdale of Charleston, S.C., in Marco’s new test kitchen on Monroe Street. Marco’s was named the second-fastest growing chain in the nation.






Trainer Chuck Blevins of Lincoln Park, Mich., spreads cheese on a pizza held by Sara Ragsdale of Charleston, S.C., in Marco’s new test kitchen on Monroe Street. Marco’s was named the second-fastest growing chain in the nation.


Ed Alimi flew this month nearly 2,000 miles from his San Diego home to Toledo to learn how not to make a pizza.

He could have stayed home, bought a pie from a local pizzeria, ate it, and learned absolutely nothing. But as a new franchisee of Toledo’s Marco’s Pizza, Mr. Alimi is keen to make his budding pizza franchise succeed.

“That’s the whole idea of being at the corporate office, he said. ”They teach us the best way to make a pizza and how not to make a pizza.”

His Toledo training included a week at “Marco’s Pizza University,” a $500,000 training kitchen and research and development facility that the pizza company opened six months ago at its headquarters at 5252 Monroe St.

The test kitchen and R&D center is used for many purposes, including testing new products, said Bryon Stephens, president and chief executive officer of Marco’s Franchising LLC, which operates Marco’s Pizza. “But the biggest reason for having it is we use it as a training facility for all our franchisees coming in,” he said.

Until last year, Marco’s gave its new franchisees a week of classroom time at its headquarters to cover business issues, then took them to a local store to practice making pizzas and other food items.

“That was OK, but it didn’t provide the most optimal training period,” Mr. Stephens said. “You had to contend with the business that was coming in the store. It was a really slow way to educate people, and it was stressful.”


Delmy Lopez of Smyrna, Ga., stretches dough for a medium-sized pizza. Behind her, Ed Alimi of San Diego, applies sauce to a crust.









Delmy Lopez of Smyrna, Ga., stretches dough for a medium-sized pizza. Behind her, Ed Alimi of San Diego, applies sauce to a crust.
With the 3,500-square-foot test kitchen, franchisees can learn the process “without being under fire,” he said.


Marco’s, which had $338 million in sales in 2014, decided that its big push to add franchises spurred the need for the kitchen training site.

Privately held Marco’s, which began in 1978 and recently was named the second-fastest growing large chain in the country by the Nation’s Restaurant News, has 640 stores in 35 states and the Bahamas, including 141 restaurants added in the last year. It says it is on track to quadruple its store count by 2022.

It plans to open 150 stores by the end of this year, and recently it finalized deals for 400 new stores in India over the next 10 years and 40 stores in Puerto Rico over the next nine.

Four years ago it was adding 20 to 40 stores a year, but now is doing 150 to 175, Mr. Stephens said.

“We started to realize that in order to have 10 to 12 people in a training class at one time, to keep that one-on-one element, we needed to do a reboot,” the chief executive officer said.

Lynn Liddle, a Domino’s Pizza executive who is chairman of the American Pizza Community, a lobbying organization whose members include most of the nation’s largest pizza chains — but not Marco’s — said it is common for pizza companies to have test kitchens.

Such test kitchens are used to “test recipes and operational aspects of our products, conduct training or demonstrations,” Ms. Liddle said.

“Pizza is a handmade, fresh product in many cases and requires the same care and artistry as any food recipe would,” she added.

Marla Topliff, chairman of the National Restaurant Association’s Pizzeria Council, said of a test kitchen, “It gives [franchisees] the opportunity to slow down and learn things the right way.”


Robert Tankoos of Charlotte ladles marinara sauce into small cups to accompany cheesy bread orders. Mr. Tankoos, who is originally from Toledo, and the other franchisees put their skills to the test at Marco’s Pizza corporate office.






Robert Tankoos of Charlotte ladles marinara sauce into small cups to accompany cheesy bread orders. Mr. Tankoos, who is originally from Toledo, and the other franchisees put their skills to the test at Marco’s Pizza corporate office.
“If you’re a larger chain like Marco’s, this is an excellent move, because when you’re bringing in franchisees you need a place to train them according to to your recipes,” said Ms. Topliff, president ofRosati’s Pizza in Chicago. And, she added, it is cheaper than sending out training teams.


“Plus, it’s very difficult to train someone out in the field,” she said. “We do our training in our main corporate store. Frankly, the kitchen isn’t large enough. It’s just too small, plus you want the best possible training setting you can get,” she said.

As a bonus, a test kitchen gives a chain the place to develop new recipes. “Recipes can take a long time to develop. It could take up to several months,” Ms. Topliff said.

Mr. Stephens said Marco’s shows franchisees not only how to make the perfect pizza, but how pizza-making can go wrong.

“We’ll have them purposely make dough wrong on occasion so they can see what would happen without a particular ingredient, what happens to our dough without the proper water, what happens when the water is too warm or the water is too cold,” the CEO said. “It’s one thing to know what looks wrong in theory. This way they’ll know what it looks like in practice.”

Not only does the training help with quality assurance, he said, it also means the trainees see something happen, such as a pizza crust that doesn’t rise properly, and then they will know what to do, something maybe they wouldn’t realize if they had previously seen it.

Franchisees get a certificate for completing Pizza University training, which includes a week of classes, followed by six weeks in the field at a franchisee in their home region, then a final week in the test kitchen.

“They come back here so we can thoroughly test them,” Mr. Stephens said.

Mr. Alimi, a former IT specialist with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spent his six weeks at a store in Salt Lake City. There are only a handful of Marco’s Pizza stores in California, he said.


BIZ pizza19p    Iffy (cq) Momin (cq), of Decatur, Alabama, checks how much green pepper to put on a pizza.      Marco's Pizza franchise trainees polish their skills in the expanding pizza business' new test kitchen in Toledo, Ohio on August 19, 2015.     The Blade/Jetta Fraser






Iffy (cq) Momin (cq), of Decatur, Alabama, checks how much green pepper to put on a pizza. Marco’s Pizza franchise trainees polish their skills in the expanding pizza business’ new test kitchen in Toledo, Ohio on August 19, 2015.


In fact, Mr. Alimi is the first franchisee in San Diego. When he went looking for a career change and decided on a food franchise, he and his family had to drive two hours to Los Angeles just to find a Marco’s pizza to taste.

“We did a test, and everybody likes it. It’s fresh, very fresh dough and ingredients. I’m sure everybody in San Diego is going to like Marco’s Pizza,” said Mr. Alimi, who paid between $300,000 and $500,000 for his franchise. Marco’s said that the average cost for one of its franchises is $350,000.

Besides training franchisees, The Marco’s test kitchen gives the company a secluded place to plan and test potential new menu items. Recently, two flavors of brownie desserts — a Ghirardelli Double Chocolate version and a S’mores version — emerged from the kitchen after some experimentation.

It also successfully designed three limited-time specialty pizzas in the kitchen — a spicy fresco pizza, a grilled chicken florentine, and a Roma meats pizza.

“Our desserts lineup is something that we look at on our menu mix all the time,” Mr. Stephens said. “But we’ll look … beverages, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, sides, breadsticks, and desserts.”

After testing new products in the test kitchen, they are tested with customers in one or two areas. Before, initial testing was done in stores, and the customers expected that product to be on the menu later, and it may have been scrubbed. Plus, in a test kitchen, there’s more confidentiality on new products, Mr. Stephens said.

And, the test provides a place to test out new equipment, something to improve the efficiency, checked out initially without affecting an operating store.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128

Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Food/2015/08/30/Pizza-U-rises-to-the-occasion.html#wib3RfU6uGxihMYo.99

Why Training Is More Important Than Marketing


Aug 27, 2015

What is in this article?:

Jim Sullivan is a keynote speaker at foodservice leadership conferences worldwide. His newest book Fundamentals is available at Amazon orSullivision.com. Check out his leadership video series at NRN.com. This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of Nation’s Restaurant News.

Sullivision.com chief executive Jim Sullivan

What is the function of a business?If you answered, “To make money,” you’re wrong. The function of a business is to attain and retain customers. The goal is to make money.

As I’m sure you know, having a full dining room, bar or drive thru is no guarantee you’re profitable. Volume can hide a multitude of sins: Chefs over-order perishable goods; cooks burn food; servers underwhelm guests; bartenders break liquor bottles; patrons knock over glassware; busers drop china-filled bus tubs; dishwashers drop forks in garbage disposals; and drive-thru cashiers over-portion napkins, sauces and condiments. Full house? Awesome. But a lack of customer retention via effective training means you just lost money tonight.

Money spent on customer acquisition (advertising and promotion) can fill a restaurant, but money spent on customer retention (training and service) makes that restaurant profitable by transforming a single visitor into a lifetime guest.

So, if our function is to attain and retain guests, which of the two is more important: customer acquisition or customer retention?

Regular readers of this column now presume that I will vociferously support and defend customer retention. And, if you’re a regular reader of this column, it stands to reason that you’re not only smart; you’re right.

When’s the last time you saw a TV ad for Starbucks or Chipotle? How about McDonald’sor Subway? McDonald’s spent $963 million in advertising last year, according to Business Insider. AdAge Data Center reports that Subway spent $516 million. Both Starbucks and Chipotle spent a fraction of those amounts in advertising. Now which two of those four brands have a stronger reputation for taking care of their employees and customers? Which ones invest more in customer retention (training and service) than customer acquisition (advertising and promotion)? Just saying.

Let’s look a little closer at the four stages of marketing and the role that training plays in its success. Restaurant trial occurs either by chance or by choice. Chance patronage is just that: circumstantial patronage resulting from either proximity or error. “I ate there because it was close to work and I tried it,” or “I got lost and was hungry.” Choice patronage, on the other hand, is a much more nuanced decision, initially triggered by external marketing (ads, promotion). But sustained patronage results from internal marketing: unit-level teams excelling at execution and hospitality.

The four stages of marketing

Awareness. In this initial stage of engagement, potential diners may not have even heard of your restaurant. So advertising, promotion and social media marketing budgets tend to be heavily weighted toward new customer engagement. Your potential new diners become aware of you through these efforts. Those who miss your message may hear about you from influencers who didn’t (influencers being the one person in 10 that affects awareness in the other nine).

Consideration. This stage is characterized by contemplation and then decision-making on the part of the potential customer. They’re now aware of you and trying to determine if you’re worth their time and money. If they decide you’re not, then the Awareness stage marketing campaign was money ill spent. If they decide you’re worthy of their time and money, you move to the next phase. Marketing has done its job and operations/training takes over.

Visitation. The diner has now moved through two complex and formidable marketing stages (Awareness/Consideration) and actually goes to the restaurant. This is why customer retention strategy (service and training) is so important: it’s where the brand meets the customer. Cherish this stage, because you experience the double win of patronage: The customer spends money with you and simultaneously does not spend money at the competition. Huzzah!

Preference (Affinity). This stage is the ultimate target for every foodservice department, executive, employee, manager, trainer and stockholder. Preference drives repeat business and lifelong patronage. Only by excelling at the Visitation stage every time do you convert customers to prefer your brand over others. Marketing is the car, training is the engine and execution is the steering wheel of customer retention.

How do you balance efforts between attaining and retaining customers? Join the conversation in the comments below.

As you consider the four stages, evaluate how your marketing, ops, HR and training teams can improve each one. When a new restaurant opens, most of its marketing dollars should be allotted to customer acquisition. But as diners accrue over time, shift those dollars into customer retention. Don’t overspend on marketing and underspend on training, lest you fall into the vicious cycle of constantly acquiring customers you can’t retain.

If you spend more on customer acquisition than you do on customer retention, you’re actually working for competitors who do just the opposite by providing excellent training, personalized service and a quality experience for every guest.

Jim Sullivan is a popular keynote speaker at foodservice conferences worldwide. You can check out his training catalog of books, videos, apps and e-learning at Sullivision.com, and follow him on YouTube and Twitter @Sullivision.

How External Situations Rapidly Affect Behavior: The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment, a dramatic simulation study of the psychology of imprisonment and one of the best known psychology experiments ever undertaken.Dr. Zimbardo takes us through the Stanford Prison Experiment, in which healthy college students are transformed into unstable prisoners and brutal prison guards within days by the power of the situation in which they found themselves.

In 1971, psychologist Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues set out to create an experiment that looked at the impact of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. Zimbardo, a former classmate of Stanley Milgram (who is best-known for his famous obedience experiment, was interested in expanding upon Milgram’s research. He wanted to further investigate the the impact of situational variables on human behavior.

The question the researchers asked was how would the participants react when placed in a simulated prison environment. “Suppose you had only kids who were normally healthy, psychologically and physically, and they knew they would be going into a prison-like environment and that some of their civil rights would be sacrificed. Would those good people, put in that bad, evil place—would their goodness triumph?” Zimbardo explained in one interview.

The researchers set up a mock prison in the basement of Standford University’s psychology building, and then selected 24 undergraduate students to play the roles of both prisoners and guards. The participants were selected from a larger group of 70 volunteers because they had no criminal background, lacked psychological issues, and had no major medical conditions. The volunteers agreed to participate for a one- to two-week period in exchange for $15 a day.

The simulated prison included three six by nine foot prison cells. Each cell held three prisoners and included three cots. Other rooms across from the cells were utilized for the prison guards and warden. One very small space was designated as the solitary confinement room, and yet another small room served as the prison yard.

The 24 volunteers were then randomly assigned to either the prisoner group or the guard group. Prisoners were to remain in the mock prison 24-hours a day for the duration of the study. Guards, on the other hand, were assigned to work in three-man teams for eight-hour shifts. After each shift, guards were allowed to return to their homes until their next shift. Researchers were able to observe the behavior of the prisoners and guards using hidden cameras and microphones.

While the Stanford Prison Experiment was originally slated to last 14 days, it had to be stopped after just six due to what was happening to the student participants. The guards became abusive and the prisoners began to show signs of extreme stress and anxiety. While the prisoners and guards were allowed to interact in any way they wanted, the interactions were generally hostile or even dehumanizing. The guards began to behave in ways that were aggressive and abusive toward the prisoners, while the prisoners became passive and depressed. Five of the prisoners began to experience such severe negative emotions, including crying and acute anxiety, that they had to be released from the study early. Even the researchers themselves began to lose sight of the reality of the situation. Zimbardo, who acted as the prison warden, overlooked the abusive behavior of the prison guards until graduate student Christina Maslach voiced objections to the conditions in the simulated prison and the morality of continuing the experiment.

“Only a few people were able to resist the situational temptations to yield to power and dominance while maintaining some semblance of morality and decency; obviously I was not among that noble class,” Zimbardo later wrote in his book The Lucifer Effect.

According to Zimbardo and his colleagues, the Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrates the powerful role that the situation can play in human behavior. Because the guards were placed in a position of power, they began to behave in ways they would not normally act in their everyday lives or in other situations. The prisoners, placed in a situation where they had no real control, became passive and depressed.

Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques

Communication is critical to success in business and life. Anxious about being asked to give your thoughts during a meeting? Fearful about needing to provide critical feedback in the moment? You are not alone! Learn and practice techniques that will help you speak spontaneously with greater confidence and clarity, regardless of content and context.

Speaker: Matt Abrahams, ’91 Matt Abrahams is a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaching strategic communication; he also teaches public speaking in Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program.

Five Simple Steps to Achieving Clarity as a Team

Accountability requires clarity in tasks.

1. Identify a platform for recording all action items (e.g. dry erase board, a Google doc, etc).

2. Create a column in that platform called “What,” where you list out every action item that needs to be executed.

3. Create a “Who” column where you show who is responsible for each action item.

4. Determine “When” each task must be completed by.

5. Create a recurring follow-up schedule.

Four Steps to Setting Goals to Keep Your Business Focused

1. Set a “thematic” goal (e.g. for a quarter, for each month, processes, systems, etc). Work it out with your team so everyone has buy-in.

2. Set 4-6 action items in order for the entire team to realize the thematic goal.

3. Set your ongoing objectives (e.g. revenue, team development, operational goals for a quarter, year, etc.)

4. Have a check-in mechanism, such as a weekly scoreboard so everyone knows how well the team is advancing towards the thematic goal.

Five Secrets to Successful Leadership for Small Business

1. Lead by example.

2. Get in the trenches…share the struggle!

3. Do the the things that you say you’ll do, and that you have committed to doing.

4. Make each person that you talk to on your team feel like they are the most important person in the room.

5. Have a good attitude, and view the events that occur as opportunities for growth.

How to Lead Better

Mark Sanborn shares how managers and business leaders can improve their leadership skills to drive better results, boost sales or profits, and truly inspire teams. Learn a few tips for developing MVPs, your most valuable and profitable activities– it’s easier than you think!

The height of arrogance is believing your product, service, or your idea is so good it doesn’t need to be sold.

“Selling is helping people make a decision that is good for them….and if you believe that what you offer is good for the buyer, you owe it to them to sell it well.”

“…or you run the risk of letting your customer go elsewhere for an inferior … product or service.”

Four Ways to Elevate the Guest Experience

Here’s a short video of Mark Sanborn, at a speaking engagement for Buffalo Wildwings.  Interestingly, he speaks to “Four Ingredients of an Elevated Experience:”

1. The Guest Always Receives Value.  This means the Guest gets what they expect, even if their expectations aren’t right.

2. Surprise the Guest. If something was “as expected,” then its just “value.” However, if the Guest receives service or product that was not expected (in a pleasant way), then the guest is pleasantly surprised (and they will tell stories about your organization).

3. Your Job as a GM, Franchisee, or Manager is the Management of Guest Emotion.  The question is: “Did the Guest leave happier than when they came into your restaurant?” If they did, they’ll promote you (i.e. become a net promoter). THIS is the lifeblood of a brand…because Guests won’t simply tell bullet points about you, they’ll tell a (positive) story about you, and usually along the lines of “You MUST try this…” or “You MUST go there….”.

4. Guests Want to be Insiders! So know them. Know and use their names. Know and mention their “usuals.” Guests want credit for their loyalty!

Driving Customer (Guest) Experience Transformation

A short but informative video. Please note in particular, the “4 Customer (Guest) Experience Core Competencies.” They are described here as:

1. Purposeful Leadership: happens when leaders create a clear vision and act accordingly

2. Compelling Brand Values: having a strong sense of your brand’s values, which drives “who you are”

3. Employee Engagement: disengaged employees cannot create engaged customers (Guests); if you want employees to consistently deliver a great customer (Guest) experience, then they need to be valued, supported, and buy into your mission

4. Customer (Guest) Connectedness: in order to deliver on the needs of the customers (Guests), you must first understand those needs, Customer (Guest) Connectedness is about ensuring that all of your decisions are based on a deep understanding of what customers (Guests) are doing, thinking, and feeling. This takes a lot more than just using surveys

Customer Experience is not a veneer, but a reflection of the company’s culture and its operating processes (“Brilliant at the Basics!”)

If a company wants to build sustainable differentiation (from its competitors), then it will need to create a customer (Guest) centric organization.

Joe Folkman: The Extraordinary Leader

For those of you who may be familiar with our Introduction to Operational Excellence program, you will recognize the name of the author and the book. We use the concepts within this book as the basis of our instruction on leadership in IOE 102. In this brief presentation, Joe Folkman discusses strengths based leadership, and it is well worth the view.

Marco’s University: Moving Full Speed Into the Future

Marco’s University is proud to announce that we have selected our Learning Management System and eLearning content vendor: Expand.

Expand is an Akron, Ohio based company. Our relationship will forge a strategic partnership that will help project Marco’s into not just a steeper growth curve, but an even steeper Quality curve. More to follow on this exciting partnership over the coming days and weeks, but for now, here are a few videos to help introduce you to Expand and what they’re about.

A Look at How Chipotle Cultivates Its Future Leaders

Here’s an interesting look at how a leader in the QSR industry capitalizes on its organizational culture to grow, and select, future restauranteurs. If you doubt the value of organizational culture to the success of not just the organization, but its people, then take a look at how Chipotle uses it.

China’s Success With Traditional Direct Instruction and The West’s Failure With Contemporary Methods


A group of teachers went to China and realized that the West is instructing students wrong

RTR2TZRJReuters / StringerWhat can the west learn from the success of Chinese schools?

Seventy teachers from the UK were sent to Shanghai to study classroom methods to investigate why Chinese students perform so well. Upon their return, the teachers reported that much of China’s success came from teaching methods the UK has been moving away from for the past 40 years.

The Chinese favour a “chalk and talk” approach, whereas countries such as the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand have been moving away from this direct form of teaching to a more collaborative form of learning where students take greater control.

Given China’s success in international tests such as PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS, it seems we have been misguided in abandoning the traditional, teacher-directed method of learning where the teacher spends more time standing at the front of the class, directing learning and controlling classroom activities.

RTX16KLPReuters / Carlos BarriaTeacher Xia Jingjing reads a lecture inside a classroom at the Democracy Elementary and Middle School in Sitong town, Henan province December 3, 2013.

Direct instruction vs inquiry learning

Debates about direct instruction versus inquiry learning have been ongoing for many years. Traditionally, classrooms have been organised with children sitting in rows with the teacher at the front of the room, directing learning and ensuring a disciplined classroom environment. This is known as direct instruction.

Beginning in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, teachers began to experiment with more innovative and experimental styles of teaching. These included basing learning on children’s interests, giving them more control over what happened in the classroom and getting rid of memorising times tables and doing mental arithmetic. This approach is known as inquiry or discovery learning.

Based on this recent study of classrooms in the UK and China and a recent UK report titled What makes great teaching?, there is increasing evidence that these new-age education techniques, where teachers facilitate instead of teach and praise students on the basis that all must be winners, in open classrooms where what children learn is based on their immediate interests, lead to under-performance.

The UK report concludes that many of the approaches adopted in Australian education are counterproductive:

Enthusiasm for discovery learning is not supported by research evidence, which broadly favours direct instruction.

Especially during the early primary school years in areas like English and mathematics, teachers need to be explicit about what they teach and make better use of whole-class teaching.

As noted by John Sweller, a cognitive psychologist from the University of New South Wales in the recent Final Report of the Review of the Australian National Curriculum:

Initial instruction when dealing with new information should be explicit and direct.

Many in Australian education believe children are only really learning when they are active. As a result, teachers are told it is wrong to sit children at their desks and ask them to listen to what is being taught.

Again, the evidence proves otherwise. The UK report suggests that even when sitting and listening children are internalising what is being taught. Learning can occur whether they are “active” or “passive”.

Often derided as “drill and kill” or making children “parrot” what is being taught, the UK report and other research suggests that memorisation and rote learning are important classroom strategies, which all teachers should be familiar with.

The UK report states that teachers need to “encourage re-reading and highlighting to memorise key ideas”, while research in how children best learn concludes that some things, such as times tables and reciting rhymes, ballads and poems, must be memorised until they can be recalled automatically.

RTR4WYSJREUTERS / StringerStudents take an examination on an open-air playground at a high school in Yichuan, Shaanxi province April 11, 2015.

Trying to cater to everyone has no effect

One of the education fads prevalent across Australian classrooms, and classrooms in most of the English-speaking world, involves the concept that all children have different levels of intelligence and their own unique learning styles. (For example, some children learn best by looking at pictures, by being physically active, by hands-on, tactile learning or by simply reading the printed page.)

The UK report concludes such a teaching and learning strategy is misplaced:

The psychological evidence is clear that there are no benefits for learning from trying to present information to learners in their preferred learning style.

Instead of taking the time, energy and resources to customise what is being taught to the supposed individual learning styles of every child in the classroom, it is more effective to employ more explicit teaching strategies and to spend additional time monitoring and intervening where necessary.

Lavish praise does no-one any good

One of the prevailing education orthodoxies for many years is that students must be continually praised and that there is no room for failure. The times when “4 out of 10” or an “E” meant fail are long gone. Supposedly, telling children they are not good enough hurts their self-esteem.

The UK report says that, while praising students might appear affirming and positive,

the wrong kinds of praise can be very harmful to learning.

Overly praising students, especially those who under-perform, is especially counterproductive. It conveys the message that teachers have low expectations and reinforces the belief that near enough is good enough, instead of aiming high and expecting strong results.

There’s not just one way to teach

To argue that some teaching and learning strategies are ineffective does not mean that there is only one correct way to teach. While research suggests some practices are more effective than others, it also needs to be realised that teaching is a complex business. Teachers need various strategies.

In the early years of primary school, children need to memorise things like times tables and poems and ballads so that they can be recalled easily and automatically. Education is also about curiosity and innovation and there will be other times when rote learning will be unsuitable – for example, when students explore a topic that excites them and where they undertake their own research and analysis.

Depending on what is being taught, what has gone before and what is yet to come, whether students are well versed in a particular area of learning or are novices, and even the time of day, teachers must adapt their teaching to the situation and be flexible.

The problem arises when teachers and teacher education academics privilege one particular approach to the detriment of all others.

Read more: https://agenda.weforum.org/2014/11/whats-the-best-teaching-method/?utm_content=buffer7563e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#ixzz3YNS7w7xE