This is the area in which most innovation is occurring. It is difficult to summarise the wide range of action research projects and good ideas being tried by teachers across the world but some researchers have tried to determine which ones have the greatest impact. In 2011 John Hattie compiled all such research into a set of tables.
1. The power of feedback (Effect size = 1.13 = more than 2 GCSE grades)
This is the factor that makes the largest difference of all the 100 factors investigated. Feedback is defined very carefully by Hattie. It is when the learner is aware of the goal they were trying to achieve BEFORE they tried it and then were given feedback that directly related to that goal. I designed PbyP (Personalisation by Pieces www.pbyp.co.uk ) so that the learner knows entirely what the goal is before they try it and then gets specific feedback from an ‘expert’ who has already achieved that goal.
In many countries, the sharing of learning objectives at the start of a lesson has become a mantra because of the clear impact of using this technique but the true value is gained when students evaluate their own performance against the objective and evaluate other students supported by the teacher.
2. Cognitive ability of the student (Effect size = 1.04)
Research such as the Primary Review demonstrated that teaching to the test and an examination led culture caused a drop in cognitive ability. Projects such as CASE and CAME showed that even if one lesson a fortnight concentrated on building learners cognitive ability, the impact was considerable three years later. IQ is not a static measure as it was once believed to be and it is very possible to build the cognitive ability of learners if the curriculum contains the right mix of challenge and support. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology) The psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi developed one of the best models I am aware of for describing how cognitive ability can be developed. He worked from the excellent work of Vygosky and his ZPD or Zone of proximal development: defining a task that is just beyond what you can do without the support of others so that teaching can maximise your rate of development.
3. The student’s view of the quality of teaching (Effect size = 1.00)
The Tripod survey showed that even when the teaching was not assessed as being high quality by line managers but the student felt that the teacher really liked them and was doing their best to help them achieve, the acheivement was still very good. This possibly is one for RELATIONSHIPS but Hattie combines the view of the student with the quality of teaching to suggest that the optimum is when both line managers and students feel the quality of teaching is good then the effect size is this high. Bloom’s results were similar although his work was concentrated on individual instruction between teacher and student (4. Effect size =0.8) rather than with whole groups as Hattie did. The student perception of how good the opportunity is must be considered alongside and with equal weight to other measures.
5. Acceleration (Effect size = 0.72)
This is when students can progress at a pace matching their enthusism and readiness. At the simplest level it is Differentiation but the greater effect occurs when the learner has some ownership over the pace that they choose and it is based upon clear outcomes so that the effectiveness of their choice and future choices can be determined. Like all of the top 5 this is closely associated with personalisation.
6. Remediation feedback (Effect size = 0.65)
This is feedback from a test or task in which the goal may not have been clear initially to the learner or the feedback may not relate to the original goal. The effect of feedback is so vital that it was necessary to separate it out into these two distinct forms. Having comments back (but not grades – see ‘Out of the black box’) on homeworks and tests after they have been taken are both examples of this form of feedback as is peer evaluation of a performance or peer feedback to a task
7. Student’s disposition to learn (Effect size = 0.61)
Attitude to learning, self belief, resilience, self management and all of the skills related to self direction and aspiration. The effect size is partly this high because in those schools in which such skills are nurtured and praised, the incidence of them is greater as is the achievement of the students. In those cultures in which students were NOT given support to improve these skills performance was lower. Of the two ways of considering this result, e.g. students with a good attitude obviously go better verses schools that praise and develop good attitudes do better, the latter is the more accurate.
8. Class environment (Effect size = 0.56)
This illustrates some of the difficulties of measurement. Here the class environment was measured against the perception of learners and centred mainly around how positive and well cared for the environment was.
9. Challenge of Goals (Effect size = 0.52)
This is different from acceleration in that it is the teacher setting the goals in this case. Challenging means in relation to the learner so the need for personalisation is evident in making this aspect effective
10. Peer Tutoring (Effect size = 0.50 or 1 whole GCSE grade)
At Eggbuckland in 2000 I started a programme in which students were given teacher training and delivered the whole of the non-practical curriculum in teams to each other resulting in some of the highest effect sizes in the UK. Also my work in the Isles of Scilly used the same methodology and with PbyP the same structure. This is perhaps the simplest of all the effects to introduce for considerable return. Just ask a group to teach a lesson and see what happens!
As there are so many possibilities from these top 10 it is less of priority to use others further down the list especially as some are mutually exclusive to the top ten. Interestingly, class sizes were better when larger! yet team teaching only gave a modest improvement of 0.06