Warning: This book is not for teachers…it’s for educators. Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Related to Achievement by John Hattie is “teaching’s Holy Grail” when it comes to research-based strategies for the classroom. I say this book is for true educators because it is intellectually thick: It takes a serious student of education to dig into it. A rank-and-file teacher will give up quickly on this book for two reasons: 1) It takes some intellectual sweat to understand the research, and 2) Most of what the research reveals slaps rank-and-file teachers in the face. However, I will say that the book is also very readable if you’re willing to put in some effort. You won’t be disappointed a bit and you’ll be a better educator for it.
Hattie starts off with a great explanation of what educational data is, how it’s derived, and how it’s broken down into effect scores for this book. A person doesn’t have to be a statistician to understand what’s going on (although some basic understanding does help), and the first few chapters of the book are an excellent explanation of what “research-based” means. So, don’t be scared of the data…work to understand it and you’ll be glad you did.
The rest of the book uses effect scores to summarize what the volumes of data in education have taught us. I said before it’s a slap in the face to a teacher, and that is because the data often shows that many of our best techniques are hugely ineffective. We resort to what was done unto us by our teachers, but is this really the best approach? How do you know that what you’re doing is really what’s most effective? Does the best science available support your strategies? If you’re truly willing to learn and be challenged to re-think the way you teach, then get a copy of this book!
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