Wayfinder Learning Lab

"Learning is about living, and as such is lifelong." Elkjaer.

What’s the Difference? Putting on my Thinking Hattie


Twitter makes my Earth move, episode 258. This post is bound to evolve a little over the coming weeks, but here it is for now…

In the last #MYPChat we were discussing Visible Thinking and how we can use and encourage the ideas in our MYP classes. It was a great discussion and, as always, we realised that PYP have a lot to teach us about good teaching! However, I was inspired to learn more by one tweet in particular, in reference to the direction of the Next Chapter:



In a nutshell

John Hattie’s 2009 book Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement, pulls together huge amounts of educational research, giving individual elements of teaching and learning a “d” value: an effect size on student learning. The average of these effect sizes, d=0.4, is known as the “hinge point“, a value beyond which we should focus our efforts and where we are likely to be achieving significant gains with students. Effect sizes above d=0.6 are considered large: well worthy of more investigation and characteristic of excellent teachers.

Where are the biggest effects?

Hattie Ranking (link)

You can see the full rankings here, with the teaching effects separated out here. If you haven’t seen this data already, you might find some surprises, so have a quick look.

Some big-hitters: 

  • Self-reporting grades (d= 1.44)
  • Formative evaluation (d=0.9)
  • Teacher clarity (d=0.75)
  • Reciprocal teaching (d=0.74)
  • Feedback (d=0.73)
  • Teacher-student relationships (d=0.72)
  • Meta-cognitive strategies (d=0.69)
  • Self-verbalisation/ questioning (d=0.64)
  • Teacher professional development (d=0.62)
  • Problem-solving teaching (d= 0.61)

Have a look also for the following: inquiry-based learning, behaviour, student control over learning, mastery learning, teacher subject knowledge, integrated curriculum and the summer vacation.

Looking more closely

My first reaction to learning all this was to try to find out more and think about my own practices and where we should focus our efforts in class. It is really helpful to look at the original text, as each of the influences is exploded and the components examined: Science (d=0.4), for instance is vague, but taking apart the elements of science instruction is really helpful and gives us food for thought as we look at how to improve student data handling and presentation.

In another example, the ranking for homework (d=0.29) appears low, but when the effects in elementary and secondary are separated, it tells a different story. Follow the link below to find out more, by Tom Sherrington. Spoiler alert: “great teachers give great homework.”

More of these barometers are on my MYP: Mind the Gap page.


What to do?

Armed with these data and a new frame of reference, I am better equipped to ask and answer the question “how will this impact student learning?” when thinking about new ideas, tools or strategies to use in class and as a coordinator. I’m still looking for more recent evidence of the impacts of tech on student learning (Hattie’s are quite old), and keep seeing the d= value popping up in resources.

A big take-home message from the data is:

…the key to making a difference was making teaching and learning visible.

Teaching and learning are active process and need to be seen as such: engaging students in learning and making clear and purposeful connections to why and how we learn. Faculty need to be involved in this, too. As a school, with our Student Learning Goals, we are starting to take a more data-driven approach to learning and I would like to see it develop into more authentic learning communities as we review and strengthen our curriculum and teaching practices.

Some ideas for action

  • Continue development of the integrated curriculum (d=0.39) as a tool for active professional development of teachers (d=0.62) and a way to identify areas in need of strengthening with regard to teaching strategies (d=0.6)
  • Further encourage the use of student self-reporting/ self-assessment (and action on this) (d=1.44), along with formative assessment (d=0.9) and quality feedback (d=0.73)
  • Continue to engage (and evaluate the use of) tech tools that will make the high-impact effects easier to accomplish: feedback (d=0.73), formative assessment (d=0.9), clarity of expectations (d=0.75)
  • Continue to always be mindful of small interactions, build trust and a positive teacher-student relationship (d=0.72)



John Hattie’s Visible Learning website & books (and this: Expert Teachers pdf)

Mark Evans’ TeachItSo website

Author: Stephen

International Educator: China via Japan, Indonesia & the UK. Director of Innovation in Learning & Teaching. Science educator. Twitterist (@sjtylr), dad and bloggerer. MA International Education. Experienced Director of Learning & MYP Coordinator. Interested in curriculum, pedagogy, purposeful EdTech and global competence. Find out more: https://sjtylr.net/about. Science site: http://i-biology.net.

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