Do we really know how to enhance student achievement?

For our assessment class we are each asked to read a chapter or article and present it to the class. My presentation is on John Hattie. Not many people have heard of this guy, but his research is very interesting. He is a professor and researcher in the education department at the university of Melbourne. He is passionate about visible learning and student achievement.

His latest work is the 138 factors that affect student achievement. With the help of a quarter of a billion students, he was able to determine these factors by looking at 6 categories that affect student achievement: student, parents, school, curricula, teachers, and teaching strategies. He then put these factors on a scale. These factors fell under one of three categories: decreases student achievement, has no affect on student achievement and increases student achievement.

Looking at the graph below, the red is decreases achievement, the yellow is it has no effect, and the green is it enhances achievement.

hattie

This bar graph brings about good news: there is not much that we can do to hinder student achievement. In fact, Hattie has found that it is extremely easy to enhance student achievement.

What I found most interesting about his research, is that a lot of the problems that we discuss about education, have no affect on student achievement at all. One prime example is giving students a choice over their learning. From what I understand, this means continually giving students a choice about a particular assignment. A lot of the times when students are to give a presentation, we give them the option to either hand in a paper, do a poster or PowerPoint presentation. Is this really helping our students? Think about it. Say that I am absolutely terrified of talking in front of the class so every time I choose to do a paper so I can avoid my fears. Am I really preparing myself for the future, or am I taking the easy way out. Now do not get me wrong, I believe that we have to build on children’s strengths. However I also believe that we need to push children outside of their comfort zone and encourage them to do new things. After all, it is our job to prepare these kids for the future.

Many people may not like or agree with Hattie’s research, but I have found it extremely helpful. All that I ask is for teachers to consider Hattie’s findings while you are teaching and see if what you are currently doing is actually beneficial to the students.

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