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Few books on education persuade us to see more truthfully and anew, or show us the way to do better for our students. This one does both.
Hattie has spent decades collecting data and conclusions from over 800 authoritative summaries of research, to compute average `effect sizes' which measure the impact of a host of influences on student/pupil attainment.
Class size, discovery learning, gender - almost every conceivable influence, strategy, or factor is here, including I'm afraid, your personal bandwagons and bêtes noires. Hattie then compares these factors by putting them on the same scale to find those that have the greatest impact on student achievement.
Having climbed to the top of this mountain of educational research he can see a very long way, and there are many surprises, each verified by repeated research. Did you know that students learn almost twice as well if they share a computer than if they have one each? Do you know why? Do you know that certain types of structured active learning with strong teacher control work miles better than discovery learning or problem-based learning? He looks at factors and strategies associated with students, home, curricula, and schools, but finds that if we want to improve learning, we must concentrate on what teachers do - and how they conceptualise the teaching process.
What emerges from this book is far more than a monumental data-set showing what works best and why, vital though that is. He develops a model urging us to change our perceptions so that students see themselves as their own teachers - and teachers see learning through the eyes of their students. You won't find the detail in this massive overview, but Hattie does indicate where to go to get it.Read more ›
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This is a detailed contribution to the educators library, on the important theme- what affects educational outcomes for our students. Given the size and detail, it is best suited to the educated professional, but is also accessible enough for the educated reader - though having little opportunity to affect any change may prove frustrating.
The book is broken down into sections looking at the different influences on outcomes such as the influence from home, school reforms, principal, and teacher and teaching practices etc. Within these sections all the influences are assessed using a statistical comparison called 'effect size'. This aims to be a common scale on which to measure effectiveness- a nice speedometer type graphic is used to indicate the rating for each item.
Think sending a child to an 'elite' child will turn them into a rhodes scholar? Think keeping a child down a grade if they are not progressing is a good idea? Think the lauded 'direct instruction' technique is chalk, talk and worksheets?
Read on and see what the current evidence indicates- and it is not always what we want to hear.
Noteably most influences are positive- but the aim of the work is to find out what has a significant influence so that efforts can be made on practices that are more effective. In contrast to one of the other reviewers - there are some questions that are not answered in this book - namely which interventions work best with which types of students? It is great to know what 'on average' is more effective, but this is qualified by the fact that each intervention varies in effectiveness in different studies.Read more ›
It's the evidence, stupid. Somewhere near the end of this magnificent and vital book there is a quote relating to the practice of medicine through the ages. To paraphrase it refers to the development of medicine throughout most of recorded history as a bloody progression of trial and error (generally in that order and with those effects), where the opinions of influential thinkers tended to hold sway for millennia, and possibly the least scientific enterprise possible - for most of the last few thousand years, if you want to get better ... avoid a doctor! Only with the advent of evidence based medicine and clinical trials did the avowed aim of making people better start to be met.
Only now is education starting to emerge from this pre-scientific dark age. Following the basic Athenian groundwork no-one seemed to think much about education for the next couple of thousand years until the start of the twentieth century. So the roll-call of education thinkers begins; from Vygotsky and Piaget to Gardner and beyond.
But somewhere in the last few decades people started doing real, scientific, evidence-based research on what works in teaching and learning. Individually these studies may sometimes be limited and hard to work through, but taken collectively as a meta-analysis - as John Hattie has done here - certain trends become clear. Oh, and note that the title refers to achievement - that's what matters, not what makes teachers or government ministers happy.
One of the clearest things to emerge from John's work (and also developed by the previous reviewer, the inestimable Geoff Petty ...Read more ›
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