Boundless Learning is anchored in research that supports evidence-based instructional processes, such as structured cooperative learning, goal setting with feedback, explicit instruction, positive behavioral management, and use of protocols. Each of these areas have extensive research that indicate significant effect sizes for supporting increases in student learning.The full report is available here.
Cooperative learning is a cornerstone of Boundless Learning with over 50 years of extensive research showing its use produces significant effects related to engagement, achievement, and mutual concern. A recent synthesis of 20 high-quality research studies—randomized experiments and quasi-experiments—indicated impressive achievement results (+.29 effect size) for teachers using instructional processes that emphasize cooperative learning and behavior management.
Effects of cooperative learning are strengthened by the use of effective behavior management techniques . The importance of providing clear expectations, community learning standards, and recognition procedures along with specific techniques for managing individual and team behavior cannot be overstated when creating positive, inclusive learning environments. Effective use of effective behavior management methods can decrease disruptions, increase student engagement, and improve student achievement. In fact, a meta-analysis by Marzano (2003) confirmed the significant impact of effective use of classroom management strategies on student engagement and student achievement. In this study, classes with effective classroom management had significantly higher engagement rates (+.61 effect size) and achievement levels (+.54 effect size) than classes without successful management.
Explicit Instruction is integrated into Boundless Learning to support all students, including those with special needs—English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and those with other individual learning needs. A meta-analysis found that the mean effect size for teachers using explicit instruction is more than +.75, confirming the overall effect of these practices as substantial. Explicit instruction incorporates: a) well-defined, segmented instruction with modeling and demonstrations; b) guided practice with timely, corrective feedback; and c) measured removal of support by the teacher to promote student independent performance.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
In addition to these components, Boundless Learning uses an instructional/assessment cycle that addresses Universal Design for Learning (UDL), focusing on students’ learning needs during planning and design, delivery and management, and evaluation/assessment. Moreover, it utilizes a consistent, six-stage, daily cycle of instruction—the Team-Based Cycle of Instruction (TBCI)—that combines explicit instruction along with protocols developed for activating prior knowledge, structuring team learning, working independently, assessing understanding, giving corrective feedback, processing performance, and transitioning to activities.
Protocols, known as procedural facilitators (PFs), which are checklists, questions, prompts, or simple outlines of essential structures, are used routinely to promote productive teamwork, learning, and achievement. They are used as aides that provide a common language and help students follow procedures that replicate the performance of more efficient learners. Studies also indicate their usefulness as key strategies for improving skills in reading comprehension and expressive writing. In essence, they provide a “plan of action” for task completion along with procedures for feedback. These PFs assist students with organization and structuring how they will perform tasks.
The step-by-step PFs or protocols guide learners through the teambuilding process as well as each stage of the TBCI. Their purpose is to highly structure cooperative and independent lessons and activities so that of student-to-student and teacher-to-student interactions reach higher levels of performance. Their use facilitates student engagement, discussion, understanding of content, goal attainment, progress monitoring, and application teaming skills. Taken together, these evidence-based instructional processes, which are used in Boundless Learning, have produced positive outcomes for students, including students with disabilities, across content areas and grade levels.
Absentee and Suspension Rates Fall in Co-taught Classes – Students with disabilities in segregated settings were successfully included in their neighborhood school in co-taught inclusive settings. Returning students had substantially lower absentee rates, most all students met IEP goals (Reading—80%, Math—81%, and Behavior—100%), and all students were promoted to the next grade.
Approximately, 1000 second and third grade students received instruction in general education co-taught classes. Attendance and suspension rates improved from Year 1 to Year 2. Third graders in a co-taught class who participated in the program for two years in a row scored 97% in math and 96% in reading state assessment tests.
High School Math and English Assessments Improve – More than 300 students with disabilities in co-taught classes using structured cooperative learning met or exceeded standards on English and Math state assessments.
Positive Results on State and District Math Scores – The following charts illustrate positive results for students participating in the Boundless Learning classes where teachers maintained fidelity to its instructional processes. Elementary students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and students receiving Title 1 services demonstrated improved academic achievement in mathematics when teachers implemented the program with fidelity. (MD State Personnel Development Grant 2012-17)