Visible Learning Foundation Day

Deborah Masters

This Saturday March 7 many of the OIS faculty and teachers from other JCIS (Japan Council of International Schools) participated in a Foundation Day workshop at our school. The workshop was run by Deborah Masters from Visible Learning Plus, a consultant group that helps schools implement the ideas of education professor, Dr. John Hattie. The New Zealand based company focuses on Dr. Hattie’s principles, detailed in his 2012 book, “Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning.” Visible Learning is part of Cognition Education and it is the first time they came to OIS. I would like to thank JCIS for partially supporting Master’s visit.

The Foundation Day is an introduction to the ideas of Dr. Hattie. Below are my notes and major learning points of the day.

One of Dr. Hattie’s big contributions to the field of education was the synthesize a huge number (over 50,000 papers) of research studies focusing on student achievement. In my 20 years in education, I have seen many good ideas and innovations come and go in schools. Hattie looked at 150 of them and put on one scale, the effect on student achievement of these. The full chart is here. An effect size of 0.40 on his scale is what educators should expect and aim for when trying to influence student learning. It was enlightening to see which influences had the greatest impact on achievement and many of them go against current popular opinion. They are great conversation starters for faculty.

The second session brought to light assessment-capable learners. I was inspired to do a better job of looking at our current learning data, both standardized test scores and other assessments, and use them better to guide learning. More importantly, to get these in the hands of the students so they themselves can guide their learning. The third session, Know Thy Impact, introduced effect size and gave some statistical data analysis to help us convert student achievement data so teachers know what effect they have on learning. I will definitely dig deeper into our international schools assessment data and share it with faculty.

Session four broke feedback from teachers to students into different levels. Beginning students need basic task level feedback, intermediate students need process feedback, and expert students need self-regulation feedback. Visible learning does not regard praise as feedback, although important, it does not impact learning directly. We went through an exercise of giving examples of the three levels of feedback.

The final session introduced Mindframes, which are a set of beliefs that underpin the actions and decisions of teachers. Two that resonated with me were using assessment as feedback to the teacher on how they can improve, not only what the students achieved and a school developing a culture of positive relationships where teachers and students are not afraid to make mistakes and trust and support each other.

All of my notes can be found in this Google document.

The Foundation Day was an introduction to the research and several days could be spent further learning about the five strands of Visible Learning. We hope to further explore how our school can improve student learning through putting into practice, Dr. Hattie’s ideas.

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