Saturday, January 14, 2017

Google Forms (Surveys) for Understanding Learning Processes and Teaching Practices in Your Classroom & School with Visible Learning


Visible Learning Surveys: Putting John Hattie’s Research into Practice
*There are three forms in this post that can be copied and used in your own classroom or school.

John Hattie’s Visible Learning approach to teaching helps teachers use evidence to create innovative learning environments. The surveys presented here are based on Biggs’ Learning Process Questionnaire (John Biggs) and John Hattie’s reflective surveys on teacher and school environments that influence learning. (which he entitles “To what extent are teachers developing skill, will and thrill in the school?”) Access the Google Forms following each explanation.

Biggs’ Learning Process Questionnaire
The modified Biggs survey focuses on students’ attitudes towards learning, and is intended for older students. (teachers can determine what age is appropriate) The questions have been deliberately developed to cover most aspects of schoolwork, recognizing that learning depends heavily on subject interest and learning styles. I recommend teachers instruct students to apply it only to the class / subject in which it is used.

My approach to this survey is to have students complete it at the beginning of the year, when there is little or no influence of my teaching on them. (though I think it can be used at any time of year and a good reflective practice for discussion) After I consider the responses I go over a few questions at a time every week for several weeks. This serves as a continuous discussion about how we learn, our attitudes, and strategies towards learning. It also reduces the tendency to use surveys such as this as a checkbox.

Make a copy of the survey here: https://goo.gl/0KuyhE

Answer choices can be explained as:
5. This item is always or almost always true of me.
4. This item is frequently true of me.
3. This item is true of me about half the time.
2. This item is sometimes true of me.
1. This item is never or only rarely true of me.

Developing Skill, Will and Thrill in the Classroom and the School
Hattie uses his research to identify key messages about what teachers need to think about in relation to their practice. He makes reference to effect size of each, which can be explained in detail in his book, Visible Learning for Teachers. “Skill” identifies prior achievement. This is more of an influence on learning as a child grows older. Working memory is another skill. Students can only move so much information from short-term memory to long-term memory, actively processing material to consolidate it.

The “will” includes learning dispositions, which are capabilities or the “toolkit” of a learner. However, there must be a willingness along with the abilities. Research shows that students will think at higher levels if they are disposed to. (and likely won’t happen all the time) Another element of the “will” is confidence. There is evidence that students perform better when they have confidence that they have the knowledge, skills and understanding prior to attempting a task. Self-belief apparently does matter. Hattie suggests there’s an implication that activities to building confidence are useful.

Hattie also considers what creates the “thrill” of learning. Surprisingly, he tells us that feelings such boredom have less impact than we might think. When it comes to motivation Hattie brings us back to Biggs, who suggests there are deep, surface, and achieving approaches to learning. Essentially, he says low or surface motivation comes with performance based tasks, such as passing a test. This is merely reproducing information. A deep approach leads to the desire to develop understanding, makes sense of what is being learned, and create new ideas of their own. (the highest level of SOLO taxonomy)

Make copies of the surveys here:
Reflective survey for teachers: https://goo.gl/WQKntu
Reflective survey for school leaders: https://goo.gl/chseLo

Some further thoughts from Hattie that apply to the above surveys as you try to identify influences of teaching practices on learning…

Knowing Success
Knowing what success looks like involves showing students what successful achievement looks like before attempting a task. This includes knowing what criteria teachers will use to judge student achievement, so teachers must be clear on the criteria that will be judged.

Teachers that use advance organizers help students connect old ideas to new ones being introduced. (an introduction of the new information or skill being addressed in a lesson) Students learn better when key points of a lesson are identified. This provision of structure has proven to help students learn.

The teacher’s impact on progress must be carefully addressed by school leaders, to ensure that students get “a year of progress”. (or more if a student comes into a year behind in knowledge and skill)

Hattie also makes an argument for concept mapping as a tool for summarizing main ideas graphically, helping students make connections. He suggests students be involved in the process, and notes it has a bigger impact when students have some prior surface knowledge.

Managing the Learning Environment
The learning environment is the space in which students and teachers learn. It includes a consideration of distractions, lighting, use of space, and the resources in that space. (this could be applied to school spaces such as the classroom and home) *Read The Space: A Guide for Educators by Rebecca Louise Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon. The learning environment includes student agency. Choice and some control over learning does have an impact on motivation, but research shows these actually do not have a great impact on learning and achievement.

Works Cited
Hattie, John. Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. London New York:
Routledge, 2012. Print.

Hattie, John. "Visible Learning Plus." "How Students Learn: Improving how students approach
learning." Handout. Professional Development Workshop. Japan ASCD. Seisen International
School. Mar. 2016. Print.

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