Visible Learning: See the Teaching, See the Learning, Make it Visible!

What does “visible learning” mean to you? I’ve been exploring this concept now for a few weeks, and wanted to share a bit of what I’ve discovered and what it means to me. According to John Hattie, Visible Learning is the enhanced role of the educator in evaluating their own teaching efforts (2013). This process makes teaching visible to students, and student learning visible to teachers. It is, in fact, the deliberate way of viewing learning through the eyes of students, and making changes to your teaching efforts as needed to promote and support the growth of learning among your student learners. Visible learning image                   https://debsplace.wikispaces.com/Visible+Learning

Although this concept makes very good sense in supporting everyone’s learning, according to the research it hasn’t been adopted by the masses. In fact, only about 50% of teachers currently are supporting visible learning (Mauger, 2015). Other interesting findings suggest that teachers spend about 70% of their lesson time talking, and only incorporate 1 learning activity. Most alarming is that many of us spend about 40% of a lesson sharing information that our students already know! Four essential points really stood out for me in our forum discussions these last 7 weeks or so related to making learning visible to all:

1. The merit of educators possessing and demonstrating excellent listening skills ~ when asking questions, within discussions, etc. Learning how to ask and model effective questioning is essential to facilitate discussion and generate new ideas, engage students in thinking more deeply about a concept or idea.

2.  The role of educators as evaluators: of our own efforts and the success of our students. We absolutely need to do our own research in order to be able to know how students are perceiving our teaching and support their successful learning (Brookfield, 2006). Using classroom assessment techniques (CAT’s) such as a “Muddiest Point” (having students reflect and identify on something that they are finding confusing) or the Critical Incident Questionnaire (see my previous blog posting and instructional video on how to implement this weekly) gather important information that can help us “flex” and adjust our teaching style to truly meet the needs of our students (Brookfield, 2006).

3.  The critical importance of student engagement and building that relationship of trust, safety and respect in the learning environment (Barkley, 2010). Possessing a higher level of emotional intelligence is an excellent trait for educators to have. Students appreciate and feel more connected and trusting with educators that are empathetic and caring. Yet, its interesting that educators seem to developing their skills and knowledge in a silo, rather than collaborating and building a broader teachers’ learning environment with their peers that could then support each teacher in their work. In an interesting interview with TESConnect, Hattie (2014) shared: “Too many teachers believe the essence of their profession is autonomy. We hardly ever get together and look at each other’s teaching. That is a major hindrance to working collectively” (Evans, 2014, p. 1). Isn’t that alarming that many teachers don’t talk about teaching with other teachers, don’t work collaboratively and collectively together. In PIDP #3260: Professional Practice, a number of strategies are proposed to help promote one’s own development, and peer-assessment is an excellent one that was explored and discussed. I know from my own personal experiences in teaching at universities and colleges that peer-assessment and collegial observation rarely happens, voluntarily or not. What do you think of the idea of having a peer observe you and provide formative feedback on your efforts in the classroom? How else will we know if we are supporting “visible learning”? Brookfield (2006) suggests that teachers may have a fear of being identified as “imposters”. In other words, they may feel that they will somehow be discovered as ill-equipped and inadequate in their role, even with all their expertise and knowledge. Certainly, I think in any peer-assessment/observation arrangement, specific ground rules need to be set, and feedback given in a non-judgemental and supportive fashion. I am definitely open to this idea. Why wouldn’t we want someone to tell us our strengths and identify “areas of focus”.

4.  Educators need to teach and incorporate a variety of activities that encourage students’ metacognitive skills, such as self-regulation, self-assessment, and self-monitoring. We know that when teachers become learners of their own teaching, students learning is much more successful. Students become their own teachers! John Hattie, the guru of “Visible Learning”, analyzed and ranked 138  influences ( student, home, curricula, teaching and learning strategies) related to student learning outcomes, using over 50,000 studies involving more than 250 million students around the world. These influences are ranked and identified with an effect size. Note that “self-reported grades” rank the highest!

You can view the list at: http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/

Here’s an excellent video from TEDx Talks where John Hattie explains it all!

 

Hattie found that the #1 most effective method for improving achievement was by giving students 100% visibility into what they are learning and why (Hattie, 2013). I’m 100% committed to Visible Learning. How about you???

References:

Barkley, E.F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Boss.

Brookfield, S.D. (2006). The Skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom (2nd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Boss.

Evans, D. (2014, October 18). He’s not the Messiah..TES Connect. Retrieved from: https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6290240

Hattie, J. (2013, November 22). Why are so many of our teachers and schools so successful? TEDxTalks. Retrieved from:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzwJXUieD0U

Mauger, D. (2015). PIDP: 3150 Instructional Strategies. Provincial Instructors Diploma program.

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