John Hattie, What has the greatest influence on student learning?

John Hattie, What has the greatest influence on student learning?

This research is very interesting. We at Malmö Borgarskola, IB, is very focused at: Feedback, Instructional quality, Direct instruction, Acceleration, Student motivation, Challenge of Goals, Peer tutoring students. This research clarifies, to some extent, our success.

The work of John Hattie, Professor of Education University of Auckland is very  informative in this respect.  He has analysed 200,000 ‘effect-sizes’ from 180,000 studies representing 50+million students and covering almost every method of innovation.  This is just a summary of Hattie’s full paper ‘Influences on Student Learning’.

He says ‘effect sizes’ are much the best way of answering the question ‘what has the greatest influence on student learning’.  An effect-size of 1.0 is typically associated with:

-advancing learner’s achievement by one year, or improving the rate of learning by 50%,

-a correlation between some variable (e.g., amount of homework) and achievement of approximately .50.

-average students receiving that treatment exceeding 84% of students not receiving that treatment.

-A two grade leap in GCSE, e.g. from a C to an A grade.

An effect size of 1.0 is clearly enormous!  (It is defined as an increase of one standard deviation)

Professor John Hattie’s average effect sizes.

Effect sizes above 0.4 are above the bold line. These are above the average for educational research. The effect sizes are averaged, and are a synthesis of research studies thought to be well designed and implemented by research reviewers.  Hence they are the best guess we have about what has the greatest effect on student achievement.

Some effect sizes are containing more than one strategy e.g. ‘Direct instruction’ is a strategy that includes active learning, structured reviews after one hour, five hours and 20 hours study, there is also  immediate feedback for the learners, and some corrective work if this is necessary.

Hattie does not define most of the terms in his table.  But here are some explanations:

Feedback 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 helplful.  The feedback must be informative rather than evaluative.

Students prior cognitive ability: This is IQ and similar measures

Instructional quality: This is the students view of the teaching quality, the research was done mainly in HE institutions and colleges.

Instructional quantity: How many hours the student is taught for.

Direct instruction: Active learning in class, students work is marked in class and they may do corrective work.  There are reviews after one hour, five hours, and 20 hours study.

Acceleration  I think this is very bright students being put forward a year in schools or challenge students. They can take 4 HL or have a 7th subject or study at Stanford at MB.

Home factors  Issues such as social class, help with home work, extent to which the learners education is thought important; etc

Remediation/feedback Diagnosing what students find difficult, and getting students to fix it.

Students disposition to learn  student motivation

Challenge of Goals students being given challenging but at least partially achievable goals

Peer tutoring students teaching each other, peer-explaining, peer-checking, peer-assessing etc

Mastery learning  A system of tests and retests of easy material with a high pass mark, if a students does not pass they must do extra work and then take a retest on the material they were weak at.

Teacher in-service education  Staff development and staff training sessions

Parent involvement self explanatory?

Homework self explanatory?

Questioning Students being questioned.  The most effective questions are high order ‘why’ ‘how’ and ‘which is best’  questions that really make students think.  They need to be given time to think too, and can do better if they work in pairs than work alone.

Effect sizes Below 0.4 now follow.  Some of these add a lot of value in a short time

Advance organizers  A summary of the material in advance that puts some sort of structure to it.  This can take a matter of moments and is best referred back to often.

Computer-assisted instruction Effect sizes for this are gradually rising as the instruction becomes more interactive, more engaging and generally better designed.

Instructional media     using state of the art visuals, videos, etc

Testing  testing by itself is not as effective as remediation/feedback where the test is used to find what the student needs to improve and they then do corrective work.

Affective attributes of students  the attitudes beliefs and feelings of students

Programmed instruction  a form of instruction that involves students being taught by a computer or set of workbooks, by doing a series of prescribed tasks, if the student gets an answer wrong they are directed back to correct their misunderstanding. Devised by Skinner in the 1960s, but not much used now.

Individualisation  Students working on an individualised programme of learning.  This may work better if students are not working in a solitary way.

Behavioural objectives  Having and using objectives in the form: “The students should be able to…”  immediately followed by an observable verb.  For example ‘explain’ is okay because you can listen to, or read the student’s explanation.  However ‘understand’ isn’t bevavioural because you can’t see or read the understanding.

Retention  Students who do not do well enough in one school year, being kept back to do the year again.

Beware Over-interpretation!

Surface learning (e.g. rote remembering without understanding) could produce high effect sizes short term for low cognitive skills such as remembering.  For example the use of mnemonics has an effect size of about 1.1 (There is more to learning than passing memory tests.)

-Most of the research was done in schools, though Hattie says effect sizes are remarkably stable and not much influenced by age

-Some high-effect strategies are ‘Russian Dolls’ with other strategies ‘inside’.

Some low effect sizes are not very time consuming and well worth trying for