Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hattie's Meta-analysis

Hattie's meta analysis is something as teachers we will hear a lot about. It is a study that brings together a wealth of research in one place. We won't hold it against him that he did it in New Zealand.

My reading of his findings is that he finally cuts through the nonsense and gets to the core of what makes a difference beyond what is normally done in the classroom and also what is detrimental to a normal classroom.

It is an astounding in that it confirms what many crusty teachers have called the "bloody obvious" and stripped away the rhetoric. His commentary on his statistics is well thought out and constructive. I feel a bit for these teachers that have felt the brunt of the new wave of teaching (that fell flat well before the shore). They were right and all you new wavers were wrong. :-)

Well.. it's not quite like that, but here are some of his findings.

d= -0.1 - 0.16 (what a student would learn if not in a classroom)
d= 0.16 - .4 (benchmark of a normal classroom)
d= .4 + (desired improvement beyond a normal classroom)

Improvements can be made by:
  • Having a cohesive classroom (0.53) p.103
  • Maintaining a positive climate (0.52) p.102
  • Strong teacher-student relationships (0.72) p.118
  • Teacher clarity (0.75) p.126
  • Clear goals (0.56) p.164
  • Concept mapping (0.57) p.168
  • Mastery Learning (0.58) p.170
  • Effective Feedback (0.73) p.173
  • Worked examples (0.57) p.172
  • Formative evaluation of teaching programs (0.9) p.181
  • Questioning (0.46) p.182
  • Spaced practice (0.71) p.186
  • Peer tutoring (0.55) p.186
  • Effective study skills (0.59) p.189
  • Meta cognitive strategies (0.69) p.189
  • Self verbalisation and questioning (0.64) p.193
  • Direct instruction (0.74) p.204
  • Problem Solving teaching (0.61) p.210
  • Interactive video (0.52) p.228 (such as mathsonline)

Things that don't work:

  • Student control over learning (0.04) p.193
  • Individualised instruction (0.23) p.198
  • Inquiry based teaching (0.31) p.209
  • Problem based learning (0.15) p.211
  • Cooperative learning (0.41) p.212
  • Team teaching (0.19) p.219
  • Computer assisted learning (0.37) p.220
  • Web based learning (0.18) p.227
  • Audio Visual (0.22) p. 229 such as slides, video presentations
  • Distance education (0.09) p.232
  • Home schooling (0.16) p.234

One reservation that I have is that it is hard to evaluate where the quick wins could be for a school. A number of small gains (such as the 0.45's) may require less change than a large gain. Some of the strategies that are not achievement driven may provide motivation to complete higher gains in other areas. I don't think it was ever Hattie's intent to make it a recipe book for success, but can give clear indicators to where effort needs to be made.

The book is well worth a read:

Visible Learning : A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. John Hattie. Routledge 2009.