Archives For Learning

If this video isn’t enough consider the following resources that debunk learning styles:

Willingham’s Learning Styles FAQ – (lots of additional links to the research literature –

The Myth of Learning Styles –

Learning Styles Debunked: There is No Evidence Supporting Auditory and Visual Learning, Psychologists Say – Association for Psychological Science (APS) –

Learning Myths Vs. Learning Facts –

Peer-Reviewed Scientific Articles
Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105-119.

Rohrer, D., & Pashler, H. (2012). Learning styles: Where’s the evidence? Medical Education, 46(7), 634-635.

Klitmøller, J. (2015). Review of the methods and findings in the Dunn and Dunn learning styles model research on perceptual preferences. Nordic Psychology, 67(1), 2-26.

Not many things we do in education decrease kids achievement and some of these actually make sense. The presence of one disruptive kid in a class negates the performance of most kids, so when you take those kinds of negative ones you’d expect to be negative out, about 95 to 97% of things that we do to kids to enhance their achievement work. — Hattie

When you combine Hattie’s research on student achievement with the foundational ideas on learning from educational thought leaders like Dewey, Bruner, Piaget and Papert one can argue the human being is the most amazing learning entity in the face of the planet. I like to summarize these ideas by suggesting that just as long we aren’t physically or psychologically harming our learners almost anything we do as an instructional practice will help our students achieve.

But as Hattie warns just because we can show some type of improvement in achievement that doesn’t mean that anything goes and that we should continue to do what we have always done in the classroom. On the contrary, Hattie points to his research that shows we need to focus on those things that will move student achieve beyond the average effect size of .4. We need to do those things that will help our students learn the most.
Effect Size

We need to focus on the things like formative feedback, visible and mastery learning and much more that will do the most to improve student achievement and not focus on the politically expedient things like class sizes, rigor, and homework and so many other things which have a smaller than average impact on achievement. The following videos and images below provide an effective summary of what we should be focusing on to improve student achievement.

Hattie spends a considerable time talking about Outward Bound activities because they make learning visible, provide an authentic context for learning, and also give the learner immediate feedback on the learning process. Authentic learning opportunities feed Hattie’s notion of visible learning because they provide a wonderful opportunity for teachers to evaluate their own teaching and enable the teachers to see learning through the eyes of their students and help their students become their own teachers and learn how to learn (Hattie, 2009, 2011). Hattie also argues that teacher must develop the following mind frames that underpin their every action and decision:

  1. My fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of my teaching on students’ learning and achievement.
  2. The success and failure of my students’ learning is about what I do or don’t do. I am a change agent.
  3. I want to talk more about learning than teaching.
  4. Assessment is about my impact.
  5. I teach through dialogue not monologue.
  6. I enjoy the challenge and never retreat to “doing my best”.
  7. It’s my role to develop positive relationships in class and staffrooms.
  8. I inform all about the language of learning.

John Hattie: Visible Learning Pt 1. Disasters and Below Average Methods.

John Hattie, Visible Learning. Pt 2. Effective Methods


Source: Hattie Ranking: Teaching Effects


direct instruction

Additional student achievement ideas to consider:
Full Hattie Ranking –
Hattie’s Visible Learning site –
The key to improving student achievement –

Bell, M. (2011, November 28) John Hattie: Visible learning Pt 1 disasters and Below average methods. [Video File]. Retrieved from
Bell, M. (2011, December 1) John Hattie: Visible learning Pt 2 effective methods. [Video File]. Retrieved from
Bruner, J. S. (1960). The process of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to philosophy of education. New York, NY: Macmillan.
Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge.
Papert, S. (1993). The children’s machine: Rethinking school in the age of the computer. New York, NY: Basic books.
Piaget, J. (1964). Development and learning. In R.E. Ripple & V.N. Rockcastle (Eds.), Piaget Rediscovered: A Report on the Conference of Cognitive Studies and Curriculum Development (pp. 7–20). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.

In the Curiosity is the Cat post, Will Richardson makes the argument that curiosity is the only “C” that truly matters. Richardson alludes to the variety of authors who have pointed to 4, 7, or more Cs of 21st Century learning and suggests that without curiosity you wouldn’t have critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. He also points to the reality that our children are filled with curiosity prior to going to school and by the time they are in their teens they have little curiosity for anything to do with the curriculum. There appears to be a correlation between the ages that children lose their curiosity and a number of questions that they ask.

Santana & Rothstein of the Right Question Institute have compiled a graphic from NCES data that shows children’s peak questioning happens at age 4 and then significantly declines as they progress through school.

Warren Berger confirms this correlation in his book A More Beautiful Question and points to our education systems that reward rote answers over challenging inquiry as one of the primary causes of this decline. Our educational system focuses on giving the right answers as opposed to starting with the right questions. And yet the most innovative organizations in the world like Google, Netflix and IDEO and most innovative artists, teachers, and entrepreneurs look to change the world by starting with a “beautiful question.” Innovation requires starting with questions and our current educational system is not preparing learners who are equipped to ask questions and innovate.

When we focus on the right answers instead of starting with questions we not only extinguish our learner’s ability to question, inquire and innovate we create an environment of rewards and punishment that fosters fear in the learner when they aren’t able to regurgitate the right answer. In my research into how to get adults more comfortable with using technology, I learned that in order to stimulate the natural curiosity that is extinguished by our educational system I had to first help the adult learner get over their fear of doing something wrong or the fear of not knowing the right answer. Once steps were taken to help adult learners deal with this fear then we could start working on rebuilding that inquisitiveness that would help them to explore and see “what would this button do” as they learned how to use technology. While my approach to adult learning called Inquisuitivism proved to be effective, I couldn’t help wonder why we had to reactively help people rebuild a natural disposition or mindset that we all have as children.

Instead of attempting to reignite our learner’s inquisitiveness wouldn’t it be much more effective to nurture that natural ability they have in abundance before they start school? When we ask this question we need to be prepared to do something about what our inquiry reveals. There is no doubt that if we continue to do what we have always done in school our passive educational environment of main lecture points, content delivery, step by step rubrics, individual competition and standardized testing will continue to efficiently extinguish our children’s natural inquisitiveness.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Like Santana & Rothstein, Richardson, Burger, I also believe that we can help develop connected curious learners who will become the innovators of the future. While reigniting the questioning spark is extremely important this is only one part of a bigger process. If we focus on just this part of the problem we can easily fall into a quick fix mentality which is another perennial problem that we face in education. There are no quick fixes; we have to purposefully design our learning environments. We have to stop doing what we have always done and start creating significant learning environments by giving our learners choice, ownership, and voice through authentic learning opportunities (CSLE+COVA).

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York, NY: Bloomsbury USA.
Richardson, W. (2017, February 11). Curiosity is the cat. Retrieved from
Santana, L., & Rothstein, D. (n.d.). Percentage of children asking questions. Retrieved from

Fail Like a Child

July 12, 2017 — 2 Comments