I want to pick up on a comment made by Marcie Look on post 2 to more fully describe the most effective instructional approach identified in Hattie’s work Visible Learning for Teachers. Maximizing Impact on Learning (2012). Student Expectations are listed first in Hattie’s work as the most effective strategy to employ in the classroom. Marcie asked what that phrase means and I wanted to describe it here.
“Student Expectations” was short hand for a series of studies involving over 80,000 students that compared student self reported grades (the grade they expected to attain) and their eventual performance on school tasks. However, according to these studies, what was important in improving student performance compared to students who were not asked to self-assess, was to build into the process opportunities to reflect on their self-assessment and then to compare later, their effort and achievement. In other words, teachers that ask students to estimate how they think they will do on new material, need to also ask students to reflect on how hard they worked on the unit and compare this against their eventual summary assessments. As might seem obvious the goal is to help students see the connection between their engagement and effort and their eventual achievement.
Jane Pollock has written extensively on methods to accomplish this (see this article for an introduction). Her book Feedback: The Hinge That Joins Teaching and Learning expands on this post and introduces other approaches to become more effective at giving feedback to students. Notice here that it really is the student who is giving the feedback. How cool is that. The instructional approach most likely to improve student performance really requires most of the work to be completed by the student. The teacher provides the structure and the expectation that one of the ideas in Pollock’s post or book are used by the student.
One interesting aspect of this research which is based on brain research and engagement studies, is that two groups of students are very poor at making reasonable estimates of their performance; minority students and lower achieving students. Both groups often underestimate their performance and eventually these estimates can become self-fulling prophecies. Helping these students to raise their expectations is one of the more difficult challenges for a teacher. Yet the research is clear that students who articulate their expectations and are asked to reflect on both their effort and eventual performance have been shown to raise both their expectations AND their performance.
If you would like more information on ways to incorporate these approaches into your instruction, let me know. Give it a whirl and then report back here.