Reimagine the Future of Education – The Future is Now! Thanks to the incredible work done by Prof John Hattie and his team over many years, they now have data on our impact from over a quarter of a billion students using 2 100 meta-analyses. We have a pretty good idea what causes a Great Impact and what has little or no impact.
His latest book launched in April 2023 chronicles his path of drawing data from 2 100 meta-analyses in education relating to achievement outcomes. These involve over 300 million students. He presents a magnificent account of what works and how we can determine our true impact on the achievement of our students.
Let’s begin by understanding the intention of this article.
True learning happens when teachers limit their Talk Time (acknowledging that direct instruction has a high effect size as long as it is not too long) and start to see learning through the eyes of their students.
Teachers’ primary intention should be to turn their learners into teachers who will continue to teach themselves throughout their lives.
Let’s discover what works.
Input has three components.
- The skill that is being taught. This is reflected in three things: Student Progress, Student Achievement and very importantly the strategies we select for learning to take place.
- The will of the student. Our will describes how we feel. Does the student feel a sense of belonging and confidence? Does the student have confidence that she can manage the challenge? Does the student display the pro-social skills of respecting others, being kind, taking turns, sharing and respecting themselves?
- The thrill in our students. The impact of our work is displayed when the student wants to invest in the learning because the classroom is a safe place and the school is like a great home, both inviting, supportive, loving and encouraging as a learning space. Then there is joy and motivation to learn.
Prior Knowledge is all important. It has an effect size of 0.94 and developing strategies to integrate with the prior knowledge has an effect size of 0.93.
This mean that making sure that the learning environment is safe and the students feel a sense of belonging and worth where there is no bullying and fear of being humiliated by struggling, will allow the working memory in our brains to hunt down prior knowledge stored all over various networks in our cortex and pull them together in the Working Memory “bowl”. Here, new information can be added to prior knowledge and increased and stored again into long term memory. This results in a deeper understanding of the content.
Input also requires that students arrive in our classes with the will to learn. Their frame of mind has to be right. Environment plays a huge role in creating this frame of mind. These Habits of Mind should be part of the school culture.
When all teachers teach in a way that develops positive ways of thinking and doing, then students move from class to class, year group to year group with a WILL to learn. Even students from deprived backgrounds can be lifted by being engaged in a positive, caring, safe, collaborative space and have the WILL required to learn.
We all love the thrill of something exciting. Sadly, schools have lost the thrill.
We lose this thrill as we progress along the schooling programme and we see enthusiasm drop from 95% in Grade R to 37% in Grade 9.
Surface level acquisition is required as the first steps, but its effect size on student achievement is a mere 0.13.
However, the moment we use the correct strategies to consolidate the surface acquisition with the prior knowledge and allow the student to engage with deep thinking, the effect size jumps dramatically to 0.61. When we use both together, we achieve an effect size of 0.69.
We can never allow our students to be demotivated by placing an overemphasis on the value on Assessment systems that satisfy policy makers and officials at the expense of real student learning.
Motivation needs to apply the Goldilocks method. Not too difficult and not too easy. Just right. When we pace the work at this level, learning is comfortable and successful.
We require shifts and strategies to achieve these goals.
The first shift involves making sure that the students all know what success looks like. It is therefore essential to design the Success Criteria with your students so that they not only have clarity about what success looks like, but that they know they will receive prompt feedback during the unit to guide them towards the success with a full understanding of the intention behind the unit of work.
The selection of the right Strategy is now all important.
The slide at the end of this article will guide you in understanding the type of activities that teachers can use in order to link new surface learning with their prior knowledge. Once they have acquired it at a surface level, they can move on to consolidate this learning.
Surface learning therefore requires both acquisition and consolidation with regular prompt feedback. At this point teachers see learning through the eyes of the student, conscious of the need to grow the Skill, ensure that the Will (frame of mind) is right and that the Thrill is still there.
As we shift them into Deep Learning, we now allow them to become their own teacher without them even being aware of it. Our strategies are carefully designed to go deeper.
This deeper learning requires both acquisition and consolidation. Mastering the input is not the purpose of learning – just like writing a final examination has no place in high performing schools. True learning does not end with an examination. Now the learning has to be transferred and used within a real world situation to maintain the motivation and give it further meaning and relevance.
This transfer ignites in the students the realisation that they are indeed their own teacher and their role of self-reflection, self-explanation and self-questioning becomes part of their frame of mind.
They are then able to take this knowledge on to the next grade and into the world of work.