In his book, Visible Learning (2009), John Hattie summarizes 15 years of research in to what works to improve learning outcomes in school. He collated the results of over 50,000 studies and, from that, produced a list of over 100 practices factors and assigns a numerical value to them to indicate their impact on student achievement. Hattie sets the threshold of effectiveness at .40, meaning any practice that scored below .40 should be discarded.
Of the 138 influences he studied, some of which were factors outside our control, such as television and some of which were practices used within our schools, only 52% of them passed his threshold. Of course, the implication is that practices that score below .40 should be discarded.
As a parent and as a taxpayer, I was dismayed to see some of the practices that fell in to this category, practices that don’t work, but were tried in the school system, such as
- The whole language concept which, in the 1980-1990s, that saw textbooks and readers replaced by books and worksheets, at great expense and little in the way of results
- Problem based learning, which saw Math Textbooks abandoned as ineffective and replaced with worksheets that had no continuity, resulting in children who are mystified by how math concepts fit together as a whole
- Class size, which has had our local school system in an uproar for 20 years but would have little in the way of benefit to students if reduced
I was glad to see that some of my pet strategies scored highly, namely
- Meta-cognitive strategies (.69)
- Teacher-Student relationships (.72)
- Study skills (.50)
- Direct Instruction (.59)
- Problem Solving Teaching (.61)
I was pleased to find some of the factors that had the biggest positive effect are incorporated in to the math program in which I teach, specifically
- Mastery learning (.58)
- Providing formative evaluation (.90)
- Teacher Clarity (.75)
- Feedback (.73)
I was equally pleased to find the influence that had the biggest positive effect is the instructional strategy I just researched for my Instructional Strategies video, Self-reported Grades (student expectation, post-test analysis).
- Visible Learning,Tomorrow’s Schools,The Mindsets that make the difference in Education provides a good summary with a full List of the Influences
- Visible Learning is a website dedicated to the teachings of John Hattie