visible-learning-meta-study-by-john-hattie-book-coverBook Author: Hattie, J. (2013)

After collecting and analyzing 15 years of research, John Hattie’s review of 800 meta-analyses provides a compelling perspective on the key influences to student achievement. Visible Learning incorporates research on several areas of influence including the student, home, school, curricula, teacher, and teaching strategies. The major takeaway from Hattie’s work is that those influences that have the largest impression on students, are strongly related to those influences which have the largest impact on teachers.

Visible teaching and learning occurs when learning is the explicit goal, when it is appropriately challenging, when the teacher and student both (in their various ways) seek to ascertain whether and to what degree the challenging goal is attained, when there is deliberate practice aimed at attaining mastery of the goal, when there is feedback given and sought, and when there are active, passionate, and engaging people (teacher, student, peer, and so on) participating in the act of learning. (p. 22)

Making learning visible then, is when conditions allow for students to view instruction through the eyes of teachers, and teachers are able to view learning through the eyes of students.

Hattie’s evidenced-based model of teaching and learning is grounded on analyses of effect size on student achievement of multiple strategies and practices used in and around the classroom. Effect size is a quantitative measure of the strength of a phenomenon. When applying effect size to student achievement analysis, the ultimate requirement is for teachers to develop the skill of evaluating the effect that they have on their students. Measuring the effect size of student achievement influences can be important in that they can compare progress over time on the same test, can compare results measured on different tests, and are also able to compare different grades or classes doing the same test or tracking over time.

The average effect size of an influence on student achievement among the over 800 meta-analyses is .4. Hattie has found that among the influences with the highest effect sizes on student achievement to include: students self-reporting grading (1.44), quality of teaching (.77), student-teacher relationships (.72) and feedback (.72).  To this the author submits 6 approaches for making learning visible in classrooms:

  • Visible Learning Schools
  • Know Thy Impact
  • Effective Feedback
  • Inspired and Passionate Teachers
  • Visible Learners
  • Visible Learning for Education Systems

Practitioners will agree that the act of teaching, “requires deliberate interventions to ensure that there is cognitive change in the student.” (p. 23) Hattie proposes the key ingredients for these interventions include mindfulness of intended learning outcomes, recognizing student success in attaining the desired outcomes, understanding the student’s level of understanding of tasks and learning demonstrations, and content knowledge sufficient to provide support and challenging learning experiences. Visible Learning as a model for teaching and learning, though steeped in outcome-driven evidence-based data, directs due attention toward the necessary learning strategies intended for developing understanding of what teachers and students know and understand.

Teachers will find Visible Learning has elements specific to feedback and recognizing impact that not only reinforce their current practices, but build on and enhance that which they are already implementing in their classrooms. Furthermore, administrators will find that Visible Learning stresses the importance of a culture of inspiration and passion within schools, and that the analysis of effect sizes of practices and strategies can inform future resource allocation decisions. Hattie's work is a valuable tool for all school personnel seeking to strengthen the bond between teaching and learning for all students.

Hattie, J. (2013).Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge.

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