Sometimes you come across research that you just can’t ignore.
While a lot of educational research can be context-dependent and difficult to generalise, just occasionally somebody pulls it all together.
In his seminal book on teaching and learning in higher education, John Biggs highlights a piece of research done by Hattie (2009) into ‘what works in higher education’. Check this out:
Hattie (2009) synthesised over 800 meta-analyses, involving 50,000+ studies and about 250+ million students, from early childhood through to adult education, as measured by ‘effect size’ (a statistical manipulation that gives the strength of a factor and that is commparable across all studies. (Biggs & Tang, 2011: 59)
Hattie’s enormous piece of research found that the activity that had by far the most impact on learning was when students self-report their grades, in other words when they assess themselves. Here are some of the other top activities that had the most impact:
|student: self-report grades||1.44|
|teaching: providing formative evaluation to learners||0.90|
|teaching: teacher clarity||0.75|
|teaching: reciprocal teaching||0.74|
|teaching: spaced vs mass practice||0.71|
|teaching: metacognitive strategies||0.69|
|curricula: creativity programmes||0.65|
|teacher: professional development||0.62|
|teaching: problem solving teaching||0.61|
|teaching: not labelling students||0.61|
And in another great piece of research, Kilgo, Sheets & Pascarella (2015) provided evidence of ‘high impact’ educational practices that were found to make a significant difference to student learning. They found that:
‘active and collaborative learning as well as undergraduate research had broad-reaching positive effects across multiple liberal larts learnning outcomes, such as critical thinking, need for cognition, and intercultural effectiveness’ (Kilgo at al., 2015: 509)
So if you’re looking for ways to have a significant impact on your students’ learning, you could do a lot worse that to incorporate some of the above strategies. I’m already redesigning all my lessons…
Biggs, J. annd Tang, C. (2011) Teaching for Quality Learning at University. McGraw-Hill.
Hattie, J. (2009) Visible Learning: A Synthesis of 800+ Meta-analyses on Achievement. London: Routledge
Kilgo, C., Sheets, J., and Pascarella, E. (2015) The link between high-impact practices and student learning: some longitudinal evidence. Higher Education. 69, 509-525