Hattie – What does he suggest is good learning?

Having watched the Prof John Hattie videos on his effect sizes research a few times, now, I decided to try and write down what he sees as the best way to deliver learning. He does not talk about a lesson plan but more about a learning plan. What would the learning process look like in a Hattie learning experience?

Teacher creates very clear learning intentions
This stage will happen before the lesson and is the key to quality planning. Be very clear about what the pupils will learn, before identifying what they will be doing. Also plan what you, the teacher, will be doing during the lesson.
Teacher creates clear success criteria
These allow students and the teacher to see what quality looks like in the learning. Great success criteria will lead to a great lesson.
Teacher clearly explains the thing(s) to be learned
Tell them what they need to know. A simple but, for some reason, contentious part of any learning. the big picture will help but the details need to be given clearly at this stage.
Teacher models what the the learning looks like
Show students what the learning looks like. Model an example.
Pupils try the activity, not totally successfully
Let pupils try the activity. They will probably be quite tentative in their exploration of the work. Some will do well while others may find it more difficult to get right.
Pupils use peer feedback during the activity
Organise the work so there is plenty of opportunity to talk to and check out how to do the task with other learners. Focus on the process as well as getting an answer.
Teacher feedback to pupils while they are attempting the activity
The activities need to be designed so that pupil misconceptions are clearly evident to the teacher, so they can be corrected.
Teacher gains feedback from how well they are succeeding. Feedback TO the teacher is very high on Hattie’s list.
The teacher as an evaluator of learning. This does mean we need to design activities so that the learning is visible. So that we can see what and how they are learning and how well they are understanding the learning.
Pupils practice/do the activity, taking account of the feedback
Pupils should not work on activities that provide enough challenge to move their learning forward.
Pupils seek feedback on their performance
The can use the success criteria to check how well they are doing.
Pupils are eager to do the activity again
To do even better they needed more and, critically, better practice.

Teacher creates very clear learning intentions

if I have worked with you as a teacher then you will know that I am not greatly in favour of the current practice of sharing learning objectives with pupils. I am not against sharing, of pupils knowing where the learning is going, nor am I against learning objectives. It is the concatenation of these two ideas. This leads, in my opinion, to a dumbing down of what Hattie sees as a critical part of the design of great learning.

Teacher must be crystal clear about the learning they want their pupils to do. They must know what knowledge and skills (no, not THAT debate again) the students will leave with. To describe that properly and fully will require teachers to describe, in technical learning language, so complex ideas. It is clearly not possible to write that up as the learning objective. The language is too complex and the sentences too long. Learning objectives are the device that teachers must use to define the learning and, perhaps, discuss the intended learning with other teachers. (I include learning assistants in this. Your learning assistant will only be properly effective in supporting learning if they can understand the learning objectives in the professional language you use.)

I and,  it seems, Hattie prefer learning intentions. Quite simply these state what pupils will be able to do, understand and/or know. A simple list. But one that is perfectly accessible for pupils. You could have the stems

by the end of the lesson you will


be able to…


permanently printed onto your board and you just fill in the gaps. It also means that the learning intentions will be in the same place for each lesson. Pupils will know where to look for them. They should be looking for them and using them during the lesson.

Teacher creates clear success criteria

How well am I doing, Sir?

It should be possible to point this pupil, this excellent learning pupil, to the place where the success criteria are displayed and allow them to make the judgement. Sometimes success criteria can be written on the board but other times they will need to be a little more expansive and it would be good to use a rubric. Rubrics do not need to be complex, multi-column tables. If a simple one will do, use that.

I am not keen at all on constructions such as All Most Some. they, like the sharing of learning objectives, can dumb down the learning expectations. Success criteria can be used to ‘road map’ the processes pupils will go through on their ‘learning journey’ The metaphor is useful because it has ‘sign posts’ etc that match well with checking learning. It is less useful if it is used to define a learning route too tightly. We do not really know what will motivate a student to persevere. Which tasks they will find more engaging. Which tasks trigger their previously stored memories, prior knowledge. It is important to allow for enough variety so that we can be reasonably sure pupils will learn well and that we can make that learning visible and evidence it.

Ok. I’ll post this and do some more later.

To come

  • Clear explanations by the teacher
  • Modelling by the teacher

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