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Is Improving Teaching and Learning REALLY That Simple?

Adding new technology into the learning environment does not automatically lead to increased achievement. It is vital that educators are clear about how the introduction of new technology will improve student learning. The use of technology is not an end in itself. Effective use of technology should be driven by learning goals rather than the a specific technology. It is vital that we are clear on how the technology will be utilised to make the learning experience more engaging for the student, increase the clarity of their understanding or be responsive and tailor the learning experience according to the student’s needs. Just adding technology isn’t enough.

Hattie researched the factors that affect student achievement. He uses effect sizes to show the relative impact of each factor. Hattie’s original ranking of 138 aspects as published in Visible Learning is often referred to.

An effect size of 0.4 is regarded as average or typical. School leaders, therefore, look for effect sizes greater than 0.4 with the aim of maximising the impact. The latest table of Hattie’s effect size reports “Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI)” only has a 0.45 effect size. Interestingly CAI with learning needs students is reported by Hattie to have an effect size of 0.57. Does that mean that educators would be better off prioritising the use of Computer Assisted Instruction for students with learning needs?

I am concerned that the fame of John Hattie’s work on ‘Effect size’ and the launch of the ‘Evidence for Learning’ website may lull some school leaders into a false sense of security as they endeavor to improve learning outcomes in their school. As much as I’d love it to be true, improving learning outcomes is not as easy as paint by numbers or selecting your dinner from a takeaway menu.

You can explore Hattie’s revised, updated and extended list of 195 effect sizes.

I would love achieving quality learning outcomes to be simple. Follow an identified formula for success and you will achieve improved outcomes. Increase one aspect and the results will be better. More of this, less of that…sounds like perfecting the recipe for a signature dish.

Add this technology, implement this program, take this magic pill…but learning is far more complex than that.

In a similar approach the Learning Impact Fund have collated an interesting and simple means of representing the likely impact and cost of 34 education approaches.  View the list here.

The website is promoting the use of evidence to make informed decisions in undertaking initiatives to improve student learning outcomes. The 34 approaches are presented with a graphical representation of the average cost, reliability of the evidence and the likely impact (in months) of the approach.