Educators educating Educators

Jan 19

February 15 Effective Teaching 1


To start this month’s Ed Tip, rank the factors below that have the greatest effect on student achievement and learning.

1. Student Expectations

2. Providing Formative Evaluation

3. Feedback

4. Time on Task

5. Teacher-Student relationships

6. Spaced versus Massed Content

7. Teacher Clarity

8. Matching Style of learning

9. Classroom Discussion

10. Teaching Strategies

11. Class Size

12. Homework Given

13. Socioeconomic Status

14. Teacher Subject Matter Knowledge

The ranking is the result of the research conducted by Professor John Hattie, then at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, who conducted a huge 15-year research project to discover what works in schools. Hattie investigated the related academic achievement of more than 83 million school-aged students across the English-speaking world. He researched 52,637 studies that resulted in 800 meta-analyses.

By conducting the biggest ever evidence-based research project in education that synthesized the school-related experiences of millions of students, Hattie provided most exhaustive meta-analysis in education.

In fact, one reviewer called it “teaching ‘s “Holy Grail.”

The study is detailed in his extremely well researched and insightful book, Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning.

While research in education has come up with many findings, by synthesizing an enormous number of studies in such a rigorous and thorough method, Hattie has provided us (perhaps not with the Holy Grail) with a much more solid foundation of scientific research than we ever had in the field of education.

In Visible Learning for Teachers, Hattie is taking the guesswork out of education by stating there are practices that we know are effective in the classroom and there are practices that we know are not. We do know what works and have the greatest impact on student learning. The book translates that story into information schools and teachers can put into practice.

Thanks to him, we can gauge not only the relative effectiveness of almost every educational intervention but we can compare these interventions on an absolute scale of effect size.

Perhaps most importantly, Hattie’s research provided 146,142 effect sizes which after exhaustively comparison, he was able to identify a “hinge point” (as he calls it): the effect size of .40. The “hinge point” or “h-point”, and is the continuum that provides the hinge around which all effects are interrupted.

In other words, the average effect size is d=0.40. The average summaries the typical effect of all possible influences in education and should be used as a benchmark to judge effects in education. Effects lower than 0.40 can be regarded as needing more consideration, and many effects below 0.40 are not worth having.

The effect size of 0.40 sets a level where the effects of innovation enhances achievement in such a way that we can notice real-world differences, and this should be a benchmark of real-world change. It should be considered a guideline to begin discussion about what we can aim for it we want to see change.

Anything above 0.40 effect size has more impact than just a typical year of academic experience and student growth. An effect size of 1.0 is enormous! It is defined as an increase of one standard deviation and is equivalent to advancing the student’s achievement level by approximately a full grade.

Teachers should be seeking greater than 0.40 for their achievement gains to be considered above average, and greater than 0.60 to be considered excellent

Professor Hattie’s simple yet startling conclusion was that, out of 136 classroom interventions identified, the most effective way to improve education was Student Expectations. Surprisingly, note the ranking of Teacher Subject Matter Knowledge.

Next month I will explore the rankings in detail.

Rankings: In the exact order as listed above.

1. Student Expectations Rank = 1

2. Providing Formative Evaluation Rank = 4

3. Feedback Rank = 7

4. Time on Task Rank = 10

5. Teacher-Student relationships Rank = 12

6. Spaced versus Massed Content Rank = 13

7. Teacher Clarity Rank = 17

8. Matching Style of learning Rank = 23

9. Classroom Discussion Rank = 45

10. Teaching Strategies Rank = 75

11. Class Size Rank = 94

12. Homework Given Rank = 113

13. Socioeconomic Status Rank = 125

14. Teacher Subject Matter Knowledge Rank = 136



“If we can control the attention of the child, we solve the problems of education.” Maria Montessori

This month Ed Tip will examine how to improve students' learning by activating their attention.