Our school was recently inspected. The result of this has been a lot of time and effort spent thinking about how we can reimagine a lot of what we do. In terms of school improvement, it is impossible not to consider the work of John Hattie. But who is he, why is he so important, and is what he has to say worth the weight it is given?

John Hattie is an educational researcher who has carried out in-depth meta-analyses of educational methods and interventions in an effort to determine what is most effective for enhancing student learning. To compare the efficacy of various educational programmes, he established a metric called “effect size.” According to Hattie’s research, giving feedback, establishing difficult goals, employing efficient teaching techniques, and encouraging student self-regulation are the best ways to raise student accomplishment. Additionally, he highlights the significance of teachers’ confidence in their capacity to have a good impact on students’ learning as well as the necessity of fostering a helpful and encouraging learning environment.

However, some have criticised his research. We will look at some of the major issues raised by Hattie’s work. One of the main criticisms leveled at Hattie’s research is that it is primarily based on statistical data analysis, which may not accurately reflect classroom instruction. While meta-analyses can provide insights into the efficacy of various educational interventions, they are also constrained by the quality of the underlying studies included in the analysis. Hattie’s work has been criticised for including flawed or poorly designed studies, which may skew the results.

The following video from TES succinctly describes some of the issues his research has.

Another issue with Hattie’s research is how he defines and measures ‘effectiveness.’ According to Hattie, the most effective teaching practices are those with the greatest effect size, as measured by standardised test scores. Many educators, however, argue that this narrow focus on test scores overlooks other important factors such as student engagement, critical thinking, and creativity, which standardized tests may not capture.

Hattie’s research has also been criticised for lacking nuance in its analysis. Hattie’s work may overlook the complexities and diversity of classroom contexts by reducing the effectiveness of teaching practices to a single numerical value. Different teaching methods may be more or less effective depending on the subject being taught, the age and background of the students, and the culture and context of the school.

Finally, some critics argue that Hattie’s work has been overemphasised and taken out of context by policymakers and education leaders, who may use his research to justify top-down mandates that fail to take into account local needs and priorities.

Despite this criticism, John Hattie’s research is still highly regarded and relevant. Hattie’s meta-analyses of various educational interventions provide important insights into what works in the classroom, and his work will continue to influence teaching practices and policy decisions. His work remains a valuable resource for educators looking for evidence-based teaching methods. Perhaps more importantly, Hattie’s research has sparked debate about what constitutes effective teaching, prompting educators to consider a more nuanced and holistic approach to education. While it is necessary to be critical of Hattie’s work and to recognise its limitations, his research remains a valuable resource for educators seeking to improve their teaching practices and learning outcomes for their students.