Another dot in the blogosphere?

Put your thinking Hattie on

Posted on: September 1, 2017

John Hattie’s work on effect sizes and analysis of meta analyses is widely known in most education circles. His recommendations on what makes for effective teaching are probably in many instructor preparation programmes and policy documents. One of his best known works is his book, Visible Learning.

However, his work is not without its flaws and has its share of critics. The latest collection comes courtesy of this blog post.

The main objection seemed to be the questionable statistical methods that Hattie employed in his studies. What seems to have held fast are some of his recommendations on how to improve teaching by focusing on the learner and learning. But any logical person and academic worth their salt will ask if we can accept good conclusions drawn from questionable techniques.

I think such conversations are not missing the forest for the tress. They are trying to burn down the wrong set of trees.

You do not need research to understand and implement the logic of Hattie’s umbrella concept of visible learning. No teacher can read the minds of their students. I have not met any mind-reading teachers, and if they could, they are no longer teachers because that talent is more lucrative elsewhere.

Since we cannot see internal processes in learners, Hattie’s advice is that we externalise them. We start by designing learning outcomes in the cognitive realm that are observable and/or measurable. Then we get learners to demonstrate what they claim to know or be able to do: Perform, create, critique, compare, contrast, etc.

What might be researched instead are the effectiveness of different methods of designing visible learning. Do not burn the forest of visible learning. Clear it of diseased trees or invasive and harmful species with methodical research.

Side note: I have a critique of the critique. The author of the blog post seemed to imply that catering to learning styles is important. He needs to examine the literature and research that establishes learning styles as myth.

1 Response to "Put your thinking Hattie on"

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