Influences on learning – reflections on Hattie’s ‘Visible Learning’ and my experience as a Teacher


Hattie’s book, Visible Learning, includes tons of insight into what we should be focusing on as teachers in our work with students. Focusing on the influences with highest impact on achievement makes sense. Hattie’s meta-analysis work sheds light on the priorities attached to effective teaching. This blogpost really aims to share my reflections on some of those insights.

Students influence their own achievement in many ways. Personal dispositions and the influences of early opportunities to structured learning are often cited as important variables in achievement. Hattie identifies the following personal dispositional characteristics as key factors related to achievement:

– a student’s willingness to invest in learning
– a student’s interest in developing a reputation as a learner
– a student’s demonstration of openess to new experiences

In my work with children both in community sport and in the formal school system, I’ve seen this happen countless times. Kids who are invested in learning learn. When kids have some success they receive peer feedback which reinforces their self perception as a learner. And kids who are open to trying out new things learn more. I have found that the key to enabling these things to happen in your classroom is related to the learning environment you create. Is it a place where kids have a clear picture of what success looks like. Are students challenged adequately to reach beyond what they think they can do. Is your learning space one where the expectation is that everyone will improve and learn; that everyone has the capability of achieving great things.

Its something how often it happens when you read something and you say to yourself ‘this isnt really all that new of an idea’. The challenge as a teacher is to not stop there, as that can reinforce the notion that you’re already doing ‘it’. Instead, deliberately finding an edge to the work you do is critical in advancing your own practice. Reinventing your work for every group of children that you work with keeps it fresh, and keeps me on my toes as a teacher.

Openess to new experience is a real challenge in physical education. Often by the time students reach grade 7 or 8, they have a pretty clear self perception of whether they are a ‘jock’ or not. This translates often into low confidence and effort in trying new things. Changing perceptions of physical activity becomes the major challenge of middle school and high school phys ed teachers. As a teacher, whether or not you were a national team player in any sport is alot less relevant than simply being able to connect with kids and create spaces where they can take risks, enjoy physical activity and become more physically literate.

Check back in as I reflect further on Hattie’s Visible Learning.

Roy Strum
Env/Outdoor Ed Consultant
Calgary Bd of Ed


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