Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Visible learning for teachers: book summary

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. London: Routledge.
A follow up to  Hattie’s 2009 book Visible learning: A synthesis of 800+ meta-analysis on achievement, with an emphasis on applying the research findings to enhancing student learning. A powerpoint summarises key points and main messages / arguments.

The 2012 book arrived in the library last week. Had time over the weekend to work through and glean the important messages of relevance to vocational education.

Chapter one provides a short 6 pages introducing the book and purpose - to make the findings from the meta-analysis, accessible and applicable for teachers.

The second chapter summarises the findings from the 2009 meta- analysis – influences on students’ learning, including the conclusion that the teacher plays a big role in helping students learn. The term ‘visible learning’ is defined as occurring when “ learning is the explicit and transparent goal, when it is appropriately challenged, and when the teacher and students both (in their various ways) seek to ascertain whether and to what degree the challenging goal is attained”. Visible learning occurs when there is deliberate practice to attain a learning outcome, appropriate feedback is provided or asked for and when both teachers and students are engaged and passionate about learning. (page 18)

Chapter 3 puts forward the case for the ‘passionate. Inspired teacher’ and identifies traits of expert teachers as being able to:
- Identify the most important ways to represent the subject that they teach
- Be proficient at creating an optimal classroom learning climate
- Monitor learning and provide feedback
- Have the belief that all students can reach the success criteria
- Influence the learning outcomes of students with respect to deep or surface outcomes.
The next part (part 2) from chapters 4 – 8 presents the recommendations for teachers on preparing, starting, structuring the flow for learning and feedback and ending the lesson.  This part is recommended NOT as a linear process but provides concrete connections with findings from the 2009 meta-analysis on the effective things teacher can do to enhance students’ learning.

Chapter 4
Firstly, a need to establish ‘what the student already knows’ and what the students is able to achieve (Piaget). Secondly, learning is a social and collaborative process between teacher/student and student/student interaction. The chapter summaries the various ways students approach learning – their self-efficacy, readiness and motivation to learn. Then connects to how teachers plan lessons to establish students’ readiness, chart progressing and raise student goal expectations.

Chapter 5
The chapter ‘starting a lesson’ discusses setting a climate for learning and tracks the various studies on the ‘flow’ of a lesson and how learning can be improved.

Chapter 6
This chapter follows on to concentrate on the learning aspect of the flow of the lesson. Summaries of various phases of learning (capabilities in thinking, phases of thinking, motivation, how we learn) and discussion on various methods useful towards meeting students’ learning needs. Includes differential instruction, various learning strategies, backward strategies, deliberate practice, concentration and persistence.

Chapter 7
The role of feedback in the flow of the lesson is discussed in this chapter. A summary of the three feedback questions (where am I going? How am I going there? Where to next) and the four feedback levels (task and product, process, self-regulation/ conditional and self).  Overview of studies of feedback including frequency, types , formative, prompts. Also the role of peers.

The last chapter presents the need for teachers to commit to establishing ‘mind frames’ with support from school leaders and the school system. These mind frames are important through professional development, teachers’ own reflection and on-going commitment, towards adopting, developing and sustaining the concepts presented through part 2.
Eight mind frames are presented. They are:
- A belief that teachers’ fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of their teaching on students’ learning and achievement.
- A belief that success or failure in student learning is about what they, as teachers do, or did not do.
- Encouragement for teachers to talk more about learning than teaching
- To see assessment as feedback on teachers’ impact.
- To engage in dialogue, not monologue.
- Enjoy the challenge and never give up on ‘doing their best’
- The teachers’ role is to develop positive relationships in classrooms / staff rooms
- For teachers to inform ALL about the language of learning.

Overall, the book is easy reading, introducing a wide range of teaching concepts and philosophies through a ‘talking to the teacher’ writing style. I have now placed an order to purchase the book as the book is a ‘must-read’ for anyone in teacher education. I can then highlight and bookmark the many pertinent sections of the book, of which there are many.

Almost all the recommendations are generalizable to the vocational education sector. However, the book is pitched at the school sector, hence the discussions in part two on ‘lessons’ are based around NZ classroom practices and the studies used to substantiate recommendations come from a wide range of mostly Western education school systems.  A synthesis between the workplace based learning literature and the recommendations from this book will be useful for vocational educators. As although there are many commonalities, vocational education has different learning objectives and an intended curriculum which impinges heavily on how teaching and learning is delivered. 


Jerry Gene said...

Your blog is so excellent that I like it very much, you must be good at writing.

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George Lilley said...

You may want to look at some of the critiques of Hattie's methodology, I have some here -