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John Hattie, Gregory Yates: Lernen sichtbar machen aus psychologischer Perspektive

Reviewed by Prof. Dr. Carl Heese, 2016-07-25

Cover John Hattie, Gregory Yates: Lernen sichtbar machen aus psychologischer Perspektive ISBN 978-3-8340-1500-6

John Hattie, Gregory Yates: Lernen sichtbar machen aus psychologischer Perspektive. Schneider Verlag Hohengehren (Baltmannsweiler) 2015. 380 pages. ISBN 978-3-8340-1500-6. 28,00 EUR.

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There is a detailed German review for this work. Read here

Subject and Background

Visible Learning has become the trademark of the meta-analytical approach in research of education. The initiator and main author is the Australian education researcher John Hattie. In 2009 he presented a meta-meta- analysis, a synopsis of synopses, about a huge number of empirical studies on processes in education. Here he defines 138 influencing factors for learning-success from self-reported grades to change of school; furthermore he offers a ranking of these factors in respect of their importance for learning-success. With this, Hattie has caused resonance in and out of the profession which can only be compared to what Klaus Grawe accomplished with his meta-analysis in psychotherapy research. The actual book is Hattie’s third publication in Germany. It was jointly written by him and his Australian colleague Yates. In this book the focus is not on meta-analyses on classroom research or its implementing by teachers but the psychology of teaching in a more common sense. The book has a close connection with the previous two but is complete in itself.

Structure and content

In the preface the editor and translator, Wolfgang Beywl and Klaus Zierer, show the connection to the project “Visible Learning” and explain their work as editor and translator. Then Hattie and Yates introduce into the book by giving concrete reading advice and naming their central motives as nine principles that are dealt with throughout the 31 chapters of the book. For example, the relevance of practise and endurance to achievement is emphasised as well as the central evolutionary importance of a corrective social feedback which is fundamental to social learning.

The book itself consists of three parts. The first part deals with “Learning in the classroom”. Here the topics are basically discontent of students at school, the expert blind spot effect as risk for the relationship between teacher and student, teacher-personality , recitation method, significance of correcting feedback and – for a couple of paragraphs – the construction of expertise. The second part is about “principles of learning”. In several chapters the essential elements of cognitive learning theory are developed. Besides the concepts of learning styles, of multi-tasking, of digital natives and that of the magical power of music during learning are discussed. The third part is titled “Recognise yourself” and deals with topics concerning the subject like self-esteem, self-efficacy, the IKEA-effect, that ist being in love with self-made things, or the duplicity of our thinking in a slower and faster system, successfully popularised by Daniel Kahneman. One chapter is given over to “Neuroscience of Smiling”. The book is completed with a glossary of important terms. It is relatively short but completed by an online glossary (www.lernensichtbarmachen.ch/glossar).

Discussion

The book shows the topic of psychology of education in an original but not encyclopaedic way. The framework consists of Hattie’s empirically developed assumptions that teachers are well advised to view learning from a students’ point of view and that students should see themselves as teachers. The focus then is on the teaching and learning process alongside the titles of the three main chapters. Further aspects like appraisal of achievement, learning hierarchies or cognitive development theories are hardly mentioned. The book is unburdened by methodical-statistical background knowledge. The methodical context is not completely left aside but interspersed well dosed. Thus the authors critically discuss, in the context of “styles of learning” the questionnaire technique or mention the technique of self-efficacy evaluation under “self-esteem”. But no methodical or statistical knowledge is required.

Inventive is the authors’ myth-bustering. With empirical instruments they challenge pedagogical and psychological ideologies present in the popular discussion of pedagogical topics. After reading the book one will be less willed to get involved with multi-tasking experiments; Mozart’s music is about to be valued not so much for its quality as “thinking-aid”. Furthermore, the anthropological relevance of everyday digital use will have to be valued more carefully.

A very appealing chapter is “Neuroscience of Smiling”. It can be seen as answer to the criticism of “cognitivism” in Hattie’s research. The authors show how a (sincere) smile can make teachers as models more attractive and thus more efficient. This way readers gain an easy to use instrument to support learning processes.

Its didactic concept is the part of the book that proves the authors’ credibility. It is presented in the introduction. The book is composed of a number of manageable chapters which are not only structured by their placement into one of the main chapters, a further frame is constructed with the nine lateral topics. The individual chapters regularly start with an anecdotic introduction into the topic which then is developed in several aspects on the basis of profound knowledge of the relevant literature. At the end of each chapter the topic is summarised and focussed on the teaching and learning process. Some paragraphs are completed by interesting additional information. Abundant annotations and a collection of summing up and deepening questions conclude each chapter. Cross references to the factors of the Hattie-Study are found all over the book, a second structure of references leads to the online-glossary. Against the common trend the book does not contain graphic representations. A possible explanation can be found in chapter 19. All these factors make the book an excellent workbook that opens up topics for the interested reader. Target readers are first of all teachers but could be all persons who have to teach or instruct in their line of work.

It has to be mentioned that the book is not quite sufficient as a pedagogic psychology, most notably in a methodological respect. The quoted studies are not presented in their design. Here the reader has to trust the authors that they argue on a basis of critically selected results. Methodical annotations concerning the criteria for selecting the mentioned studies are searched for in vain.

At last it has to be said that the editors have not entirely been successful in achieving a readable translation. On the whole however the always exciting content helps through the reading.

Summary

An excellent book that deals with important psychological topics on teaching and learning in a convincing selection. It skilfully offers instruments for developing and deepening the topic and facilitates an overview as well as a profound knowledge of psychological aspects of teaching and learning. It encourages critical understanding of methods but the focus definitely is on the contents. Readers that are further interested in methodology have to resort to a classical book about psychology of teaching.

Review by
Prof. Dr. Carl Heese
Professur für Rehabilitation an der Ostbayerischen Technischen Hochschule Regensburg
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Cite this publication
Carl Heese, 2016. Review of: John Hattie, Gregory Yates: Lernen sichtbar machen aus psychologischer Perspektive. Schneider Verlag Hohengehren 2015. ISBN 978-3-8340-1500-6. Überarbeitete deutschsprachige Ausgabe von "Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn". In: socialnet Reviews, 2016-07-25. ISSN 2190-9245. Retrieved 2024-05-27 from https://www.socialnet.de/en/reviews/19678.php.


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