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on 3 May 2009
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.

This book is the most objective, wide ranging and authoritative summary of education research we are likely to see this decade. There is little comfort here for governments, or for the educational establishment, but there is illumination for both. To ignore this book is to remain wilfully blind to what really matters in education. (The reviewer, Geoff Petty is author of Teaching Today and Evidence Based Teaching: A Practical Approach)
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on 13 September 2010
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 Evidence-Based Teaching A Practical Approach Second Edition) is that almost anything you can do in front of a class beyond just breathing will have a positive effect on student education. Hence the ability of PD providers and publishers to provide endless anecdotal evidence, war stories and even data to prove that the latest scheme they're peddling really works! However, a teacher's time in the classroom is limited - so Hattie's work allows us to select the most effective strategies to spend our time with.

To summarise- this book is essential to anyone who wishes to have a positive effect on student achievement: parents and policy-makers, teachers and administrators. BUY THIS BOOK! (and read it ...)
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on 23 May 2012
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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on 11 August 2012
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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on 18 June 2016
The publishing date on Amazon says 2008 and inside the book it says first published in 2009. Some of the ways groups of metanalyses are categorised are idiosyncratic. Example: feedback is usually taken to mean what the teachers say to students and yet Hattie includes in this grouping research about what students say to teachers. And a lot of research about feedback distinguishes between how feedback is received by students of different ages, e.g. a 6 year old usually appreciates public praise, whilst a sixteen year old usually squirms. Hattie's analysis and annotations are far too blunt as instruments to capture this difference. It's a worthy effort and has been terribly helpful as a book since publishing in 2009, but rather as a starting point for further research or as a commentary. It is not a cookbook or a school policy making tool, however idealising the reader is. Overall, I am glad that I have read it and I still recommend it to senior management teams in schools.
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on 15 May 2011
This book was recommended to me and is excellent for looking at what is good education practice. As we know there are numerous strategies and interventions proposed to improve student learning. Hattie looks at the data from thousands of different studies and looks at what actually works. Some really surprising results and some very interesting food for thought. It has definitely made me reconsider some of my own practices within the classroom and as a senior manager within the school. It is now recommended reading for all our senior managers.
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on 9 March 2011
A really good read, and very thought provoking. A must for every school leader. Chapter 3 is a must for every teacher!
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on 19 March 2011
It is really useful to sort out the facts from the myths in ascertaining what really helps pupils make progress. This book is incredibly interesting because of the evidence it has and how it highlights what really helps. It provokes much thought and I have found it very insightful.
My only quibble would be that the publisher has made the choice of font rather small and this makes such a dense book less engaging to read. This is a shame because it is full of gems. Don't let the front cover put you off either - it is well worth the purchase!
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on 13 January 2013
A worthy read for all that are currently studying to be a teacher or those that are qualified. A book that should be on shelf.
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on 9 December 2011
Hattie's work is a constant reference point at our school both in discussions amongst staff about refining and adapting pedagogy and when meeting with parents to explain why we do what we do.In an age where every publishing company would have educators believing that they have the best 'scientific' way to improve student learning and every politician seems to believe that sound bites can cure all educational ills, Hattie's meta- analyses help educators to sort the wheat from the chaff. Most importantly it allows the debate about what works in education to become increasingly framed by information rather than emotion.
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