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Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement Paperback – 18 Nov 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (18 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415476186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415476188
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 2.3 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"The definitive book on the effectiveness of teaching strategies -- a must-read for anyone who wants to improve teaching and learning."
-- Michael Fullan, May 2009

It is perhaps education's equivalent to the search for the Holy Grail - or the answer to life, the universe and everything.
-- Times Educational Supplement, November 21, 2008

Review

"The definitive book on the effectiveness of teaching strategies -- a must-read for anyone who wants to improve teaching and learning."

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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By G W PETTY on 3 May 2009
Format: Paperback
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.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Byron Geoffrey Farrow on 13 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 milennia, 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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Archeeros on 11 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to know what schools should focus on (and what they do but shouldn't) read this book. It provides an excellent account of all that we think we know about learning outcomes through meta-analyses of research carried out since, well, there was some decent educational research carried out. Perhaps, a slightly dubious concept that, but hey ho. I think it has been described as the Holy Grail of education, and it is indeed, just that. However, it needs to be supplemented with some of the research findings coming out from neuroscience and there are gaps when it comes to how teaching and learning should actually take place in the classroom. But it certainly sets the scene for informed debate (imagine such a thing...)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 23 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a senior leader in a UK academy, I try to stay abreast of current educational thinking. However, so much of what I read is modish and over-hyped, and often the result of a knee jerk reaction to government thinking. As Hattie says in the final chapter of this book, little of what we implement in schools today is based on a depth of research. It is reaction-based innovation rather than evidence-based.

In this book, Hattie dispels many of the more prevalent attitudes to learning today. By distilling the findings of around 800 meta-analyses, he has effectively assembled one the largest evidence bases in history. What he has discovered should warn us against some of the new practices we seem so bent on introducing. Problem-based learning? It may be good for acquiring skills like teamwork, but it does little to improve achievement. Homework? The advice is keep it short and focused, which again counters the more recent belief that extended, open ended home learning tasks are more effective. Directed teaching? This is still one of the most effective ways of getting students to learn.

One of the most interesting, and oft repeated refrains in the book is the importance of constructive feedback. Time and again Hattie emphasises just how important good feedback is: and that it is feedback from the student to the teacher, rather than the other way round, that is most effective. This, coupled with clear learning goals and an understanding on the part of the student of what success is, has the greatest impact on learning.

I urge anyone with an interest in raising attainment to read this book.
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