News Blog readers are now familiar with Hattie’s monumental work on evidence-based education  – an overview (meta-synthesis) of:
To remind you, the huge proportion of the meta-analyses and studies (96%) show positive effects – maybe a Hawthorne effect of some sort. So an influence or intervention that produces an effect size of, say, only 0.2 of a standard deviation must be considered not particularly useful – it will be at the bottom end of a distribution in which nearly everything ‘works’.
- Small class sizes.
- Problem-based learning.
I should have mentioned that there is no threshold class size – reducing from 200 to 60; 60 to 20; 20 to 8 all yield nugatory benefits. Moreover, and again perhaps surprisingly, the results of most studies are not very age-group dependent. You can see where I am going – abandoning the lecture in universities, in line with current fashion, should be questioned, especially given the cost-efficiency of the method. Important variables (have the students pre-prepared; does the lecturer stop and ask questions to assess understanding; do the students set time aside to reflect; does the lecturer assess herself; does she adapt herself to the type of class/group she is teaching) are all more important than the size of the class. A great lecturer is a scarce resource to be used wisely. Think TED talks.
— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director
- Hattie J. The Applicability of Visible Learning to Higher Education. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. 2015; 1(1): 79-91.
- Lilford RJ. Evidence-Based Education (or how wrong the CLAHRC WM Director was). NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands News Blog. 15 July 2016.
- Lilford RJ. Ask to Not Whether, But Why, Before the Bell Tolls! NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands News Blog. 29 July 2016.