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

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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

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

CBE

Charting the Green Future of CBE Schools

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The Calgary Board of Education is currently undertaking a series of engagement sessions focused on  engaging the internal and external communities in helping to identify the priorities for environmental learning and sustainability.  CBE staff and students have demonstrated leadefrship over the past 40 years in environmental education.  In particular the CBE has implemented a 5 year strategic framework to advance enviornmental stewardship in our school division.  Significant accomplishments have been achieved regarding facility, community, and curriculum outcomes related to reducing our impact on the planet.

As a school division we have aimed to become a model of local and global environmental stewardship.  We have accomplished much but still have much we can do.  We encourage teachers and students to participate in an online engagement process using the thoughtstream platform.  This is a survey type of tool.  We are interested in hearing the voices of students and school staff in directing the future ambition of our school division in continuing its important work of being a model of local and global environmental stewardship.

To participate in the survey please go to http://thotstr.ca/cbe/vhC

Additional information can be found at http://www.cbe.ab.ca/community/ecoStewardship/

cheers

Roy Strum

Env/Outdoor Ed Consultant

CBE

Navigating Big Ideas… What can you expect to find here?

Blogs are an excellent space to share learning, to process understandings, to connect with other educators and to document a professional learning network.

Navigating Big Ideas… is a blog about my thoughts about learning, about teaching, and about what I learn along the way,

I am a Teacher working in a Consultant role with the Calgary Board of Education.  My passion is optimizing learning.  I love physical activity and being outdoors.  I am a coach, a teacher, a consultant, a parent, a husband, a friend, an athlete, and a lifelong learner.

Roy Strum