Today was officially day three of our school year and I was pulled out for a full day training at the county office. This training, in particular, is based entirely on the work of Dr. John Hattie from the University of Melbourne, Australia. His published books are essentially meta-analyses of the research related to student achievement. And as a Ph.D. student, I love meta-analyses! They're a gold mine of literature! (Okay, enough geeking out on you.)
There's certainly this perception out there that research is not applicable to our current work, or that research is not pragmatic. It's not true! Teachers can learn from researchers and certainly the reverse is true too. Dr. Hattie's work, in particular, shows that 95% of their factors positively influence student achievement. But you can't implement them all...so which ones do you choose to start with? Wouldn't it make sense to start with the things that are likely to give you the highest yield? That's where the Visible Learning books come in handy. By the way, the number one greatest influence on student achievement is...? Self-reported grades! Interesting, huh?
My other realization today was that I've learned a lot in my two years of doctoral coursework. I know that should be a "duh" but it was evident today. I knew what a Cohen's d effect size was (and how it's calculated) and I could even spout off and explain how to calculate standard deviation. And when the presenter started talking about Wiliam and formative assessment, I knew right away that she was talking about Dylan Wiliam & Paul Black's seminal 1998 article called "Inside the Black Box". I've read it!
At any rate, our district had a huge group (30+) of educators attend this training and even more attended a summer cohort. My hope is that we change the perception of research and its applicability to our practice as classroom teachers. We really need to take a serious look at our practices and make sure that they are research-based and high-yield.
If you think you've got it all figured out, do me a favor and at least check your grading practices against Ken O'Connor's 15 fixes for broken grades (the fixes are outlined here). How'd you do?
If you want to learn more about Dr. Hattie's work, check out the Visible Learning official website at: http://visiblelearningplus.com/. Or you can check out an independent site that does a good job of collecting information related to his work at: http://visible-learning.org/.