Daily Archives: March 1, 2010

So today I heard John Hattie today going through his list of factors that make a difference (or don't) for students in our schools. A few sacred cows get a little trampled on in this process but here's what popped into my head as he (eloquently) spoke this morning.

His research is based on thousands of research studies conducted over the past fifteen years, so reflects what has been happening in schools. So essentially his research can only be used to change schools as we currently know them.  I know that all research is based on past events but how do his findings ensure that we can cater for what education or at a more basic level, learning, will look like in a increasingly networked future?



Here are my raw and at times possibly inaccurate notes from this morning's presentation by Professor John Hattie. His meta-analysis of educational research in his book "Visible Learning" has provoked a lot of interest and some indignation from the education community. I will say that he is a very engaging speaker able to show off his findings while weaving a narrative and context for his audience to come to terms with his findings. He spoke for about two hours today - we were lucky enough to have six of our staff attend - and my attention waned a bit at times so the notes are patchy. I'll post some reflection at a later date.

Tried hard to make the data tell a story, condensed thousands of studies into a continuum of “Influences on Achievement?” Curriculum is important but it is not what makes the difference for learning in the classroom. Reducing class size has a positive effect of 0.20 which equates to advancing achievement of 9 months – reminded any reporters in the room that he was not saying that it was not worth reducing class sizes. All you need to enhance achievement is to “have a pulse.” We should be looking for the 0.40 improvement factor. Australia has a pretty good education system. We talk about the people who hardly exist – the bad teachers. We need to be concerned with the OK teachers who should be doing a better job.  We should know what effect we are having on our students.

The 0.40 is the average of what happens now. We should not allow autonomy in our teaching profession – “some teachers are making the difference.”  Kids without schooling achieve progress of 0.15 anyway (Liberia, Guatemala etc) through street smarts etc.

Retention is one of the most negative things that can happen to a student’s learning, was an expert witness in a trial for NAACP showing that retention with US education is aimed predominantly at African-American or Hispanic students.

Teacher subject matter knowledge does not have a positive effect.  [Spirited discussion within the audience at this point.]  Would matter if we had deep learning rather than surface content learning and effective assessments, more time spent listening than talking.

Hattie’s data is not about What Could but What Has Happened. Class reduction makes a difference only if there is a change in teaching practice. Too many parents judge the school by the amount of homework – recommends no more than 5 minutes, make sure it’s something that the kids already know (deliberative practice) and make sure that it is assessed. A better option would be for parents to engage with their kids to talk about their learning.

Used abseiling as a example of learning that is at the 0.50 level – Outdoor/Adventure Programs at 0.52. The important ingredient is challenge – keeping all students to be challenged or they will challenge you!  Show what success looks like – as examples, the steps to success. If a seven year old is struggling with mathematics, give them the answer so that they can work on the process. Direct instruction is powerful because it gets teachers talking to other teachers about teaching. How do you create dialogues around teaching? We need to be able to change our teaching on the fly to suit the different ways that students will learn.

Labelling kids – one of the most damaging things the education system does is use labels to define what students should only be capable of.

The No 1 is self reported grades – exceed expectations, more powerful – setting a safe target is not enough. Streaming is a way of telling kids “Know your place.” Students find it easier to set performance based targets – faster, neater etc. When kids set targets, they invariably reach them. We need to share targets with the kids – the most important thing for home is to have high expectations for their kids.

What the student brings to the classroom is pretty powerful – 50%.  Largest variant we have control over is teachers – the differences between schools is less 8% variance in Australia and NZ, students have similar opportunity for achievement regardless of schools.

His mantra:

When teachers SEE learning through the eyes of the student
when students SEE themselves as their own teachers

We can’t change the kids in front of us – but it’s the teacher mindframe that makes the difference.

Transparency with Learning Intentions and Success Criteria is very important. Create a dialogue within your school on a common conception of progression. 80% of feedback kids get is from other kids and 80% of that is wrong. A lot of general feedback is given in the class but less than 3 seconds of that is received by the individual. Feedback about the task is infinitely more valuable than feedback about self [Well done, good girl] etc.

Assessment should be totally used for feedback in the classroom and the student, not foremost for the teacher.

Classrooms that welcome error are the best places for our students. Relationships in the classroom are important to foster so that students feel comfortable to make mistakes and learn from them.