This book is about the attributes of schooling that will truly make a difference for student learning. It is based on evidence from John Hattie’s book Visible Learning. The ‘visible’ refers to a few things. First, it refers to making student learning visible to teachers so they can know whether they are having an impact on this learning. Further, it also refers to making teaching visible to the student as well so that students learn to become their own teachers, an important component of becoming lifelong learners – something we want students to value. The ‘learning’ part of visible learning -- and a common theme throughout the book -- is the need to think of teaching with learning in the forefront and with the idea that we should consider teaching primarily in terms of its impact on student learning.
The ideas in this book are based on the preponderance of evidence that comes from Hattie’s earlier book, Visible Learning. That book was based on over 800 meta-analyses (a method of combining results from different studies to identify patterns) of 50,000 research articles and about 240 million students. The most important discovery from the research was that almost any intervention can claim to “work.” Almost every intervention had an effect size above zero which simply means that the intervention had some positive effect on achievement. However, if every intervention has some effect on achievement, then all we need to do is implement more of what we already do – so all we need is more money, more resources, more teachers, and all of our problems will be solved. However, this will not solve the problems in education. Instead, we need to be more discriminating. Rather than looking at any practice that has an effect size of more than zero (d > 0), in Visible Learning Hattie suggests that an effect size of 0.40 should be considered the hinge-point. An effect size of 0.40 is about the average effect we expect from a year’s schooling. Therefore we should aim to implement those interventions of 0.40 and above because those are the ones that will truly improve student achievement.