Wednesday, January 16, 2013

PL 1/13: What does Hattie say?

Filed under: education — plinius @ 2:46 pm

John Hattie is probably the world’s best known educational researcher.

Hattie is basically asking: which teaching methods work? Which conditions are conducive to learning?

In his book Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning (2011) he compares eight hundred metastudies on teaching methods and their impact. These overviews summarize more than fifty thousand individual studies.

I have not read the book. Yet …. But I found a useful summary of the summary on Twitter.

This suggests that the most important inputs teachers can provide are:

  1. Pervasive feedback (1.13)
  2. High instructional quality  (1.00)
  3. Direct instruction (0.82)

The terms are explained below. The numbers indicate the potential size of the effect. The value 1.0 corresponds to a major impact on grades: an improvement of two grade levels (e.g. from C to A).



Hattie has made clear that ‘feedback’ includes telling students what they have done well (positive reinforcement), and what they need to do to improve (corrective work, targets etc), but it also includes clarifying goals.

  • This means that giving students assessment criteria for example would be included in ‘feedback’.
  • This may seem odd, but high quality feedback is always given against explicit criteria, and so these would be included in ‘feedback’ experiments.

As well as feedback on the task Hattie believes that students can get feedback on the processes they have used to complete the task, and on their ability to self-regulate their own learning.

  • All these have the capacity to increase achievement.
  • Feedback on the ‘self’ such as ‘well done you are good at this’ is not helpful.
  • The feedback must be informative rather than evaluative. 

Instructional quality

  • This is the student’s view of the teaching quality; the research was done mainly in HE institutions and colleges.

Direct instruction

  • Active learning in class, student’s work is marked in class and they may do corrective work.
  • There are reviews after one hour, five hours, and 20 hours study. 

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