Visible Teaching and Learning – pt 1

There is a buzz about John Hattie in the CBE.  His book Visible Learning is the focus on regular conversation about the priorities in teaching and learning.  I’d like to share out some reflections of my reading of Hattie’s work, which represents a meta analysis of over 800 meta analysis studies focused on the teaching and learning influences on student achievement.  It is the type of work that as an educator I wish I’d had my hands on during my first few years of classroom teaching.  Why? For someone with my kind of brain, having an understanding of the relative importance and impact of decisions you make in organizing student learning can lead to improved, more effective, more focused, and more personalized learning experiences for students.


My teaching over the past couple of decades has centred largely on the experiential learning framework in phys ed and outdoor and environmental education.  Through my experiences working in the Outward Bound setting, school setting, and outdoor school setting I’ve worked at innovation and personalizing the outcomes to ensure some relevancy to student interest and passion.  Hattie’s work quantifies the relative importance of over 130 teaching and learning influences.  His work provides some evidence as to what works better instead of just what works to advance learning.  He points out nicely that just about everything a teacher does has a positive impact on student learning.  What we should be working towards is advancing those things which have the largest impact on student learning.


Over the next few months, I will reflect on my reading of Hattie’s Visible Learning in this space and share out my perspective and insight that I gain from his work.  Here is an excerpt that I wanted to share today:

Visible Learning occures when…

– learning is the explicit goal – in the CBE, Learning is our Central Purpose – its our core business and we are asked to relate all of our work to the advancement of student learning

– appropriately challenging – the real challenge of teaching is connecting with each student’s unique learning needs and creating a challenging environment where students feel adequately challenged and engaged.  In environmental and outdoor education challenge can be inherent in the learning activity – learning to cross country ski engages mulitple intelligences

– the teacher and student seek to ascertain whether and to what degree the challenging goal is attained – this really answers the question ‘what did you learn’ and ‘how can you demonstrate’ that understanding

– there is deliberate practice aimed at attaining master of the goal – teachers need a strong enough understanding of the nuances of the material they are teaching to adjust the challenge of the learning task to each student’s level of competency

– there is feedback given and sought – ‘have I got it?’ or ‘is this what it should like’ are signs of an engaged learner

– there are active, passionate, and engaging people participating in the act of learning – there is nothing a teacher who is passionate about the material they are teaching and how it relates to the world and to the student.  Student engagement increases when teachers are engaged.

I find it helpful for me to process and assimilate new understanding by using a random blocked learning process – read a little, blog a little, read alot, process for a while, blog alot.  I’ll be back with more of Hattie’s Visible Learning, an important piece of educational research literature that is guiding the pedogogy of CBE instruction.  Talk again soon…


Roy Strum

Env/Outdoor Ed Consultant



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