Teachers need to set the bar higher says NZ expert
|Professor John Hattie|
|600 educators attended the lecture|
On Monday 19 October 2009, New Zealand academic, researcher and author Professor John Hattie believes teachers need to set the bar higher and focus only on the strategies that have the greatest effect on improving student achievement.
The Director of Visible Learning Laboratories and Professor of Education at the University of Auckland presented the 9th annual Ann D. Clark lecture titled, Visible Learning, Visible Leadership, to over 600 educators from Catholic, government and independent school sectors.
Hattie’s seminal work, Visible Learning, published last year, is the culmination of 15 years work; 800 meta-analyses of 50,000 studies of 200 million students; and looks at the effectiveness of 138 different influences (‘table of effects’) on student achievement.
Hattie believes educators should be asking how much difference they are actually making to students' learning by focusing on the things that have the greatest effect.
‘Every teacher can say that they are making a difference and that’s the problem. All you need to enhance kid’s achievement is a pulse. We have a system that allows us to teach the way we want because our bar is so low. We have to stop this argument that evidence of achievement increases is enough.’
His research shows that influences like class sizes, socio-economic status, changing schools, ability groupings, homework and retention, have a small degree of effect on achievement.
Hattie argues that ‘if there is a single, disastrous thing we do in our system it has got to be retention. Why should they need more of what failed? Why should they be put back with the same kind of teacher, the same kind of curriculum… the same kind of environment? The answer to most questions in education when they are not working is never more.’
Hattie believes that teachers need to find ways to make learning more challenging for students because many students disengage from learning because it is not challenging.
'If you reduce the leaving age to five, I think suddenly you would find ways to make it engaging. If kids thrive on challenge… and all kids want to have a reputation of being good at something, how can we come up with ways to challenge them? Our job is to exceed kids' potential, our job is to challenge them to go higher.’
Based on his analysis, Hattie says student achievement is influenced more significantly by the child’s own assessment of how they are performing and by teachers receiving feedback on how they are performing as teachers.
‘We need to help them (teachers) understand how they are teaching well. Teachers actually thrive on information about how well they are doing.’
The annual lecture is hosted by Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta in honour of Ann D. Clark, the founding executive director of schools in the Parramatta diocese.
Download the podcast of the lecture. Download the PowerPoint. Visit the media gallery of photos from the lecture.
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