School student writing at desk.
Research report
2 August 2019

11 learning myths debunked

What the evidence says works in the classroom.

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Jane C.
04 Aug 2019
Stick to your knitting

I think we all need to be worried when Consumer thinks it has a role in advising us about what works, and what doesn't work, in Education based solely on the work of John Hattie.

Education is extremely complex ... it can't always be reduced to a blanket 'more effective' ... 'less effective'. Nothing in Education is 'black and white'. While, some of the points made aren't necessarily totally incorrect in that they are generally born out by other research, they don't really tell the full story and I found myself saying ... "Yes, but ..."

Also, while "What works" is always an important question to ask, an even better one is "what works for whom, and under what circumstances".

Any report on something as complex as Education must draw on multiple sources and come from a writer who has the knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning required to critically analyse the information available. An understanding of education requires a much deeper understanding than can be gained from reading John Hattie's meta analysis (which, by the way, has been challenged by some researchers who don't agree with his methodology). His work can contribute to an investigation but it should never be presumed to be the only story.

Consumer ... stick to your knitting and focus on investigating less complex products and services.

John B.
04 Aug 2019
Our Children Need to be 21st Century Learners

I agree with Jane C. We need to be teaching our children to be 21st century learners, and this is very different to the established education system that is held back by NCEA and needing to 'teach to the test'.

Tony H.
04 Aug 2019
Disappointing

When I set out to read this investigation I expected a lot more than a summary of one persons study given you assert that you have "assessed the evidence "
Thank you to the other readers who raised many of the thoughts and concerns I had and provide the critiquing so missing from much discussion of topics these days.

Consumer staff
05 Aug 2019
Re: Stick to your knitting

Hello all,

Thanks for the feedback.

As noted, the article includes the Visible Learning Plus research – where Professor Hattie combines the work of 30,000 studies conducted by different researchers all around the world. The Visible Learning Plus research project regularly updates itself by adding newly published studies on education, thus frequently testing its conclusions, in a process of evolution.

This process of meta-analysis has its critics, but is a well-established scientific research tool to explore bias and deal with disagreeing studies.

As well as Visible Learning Plus, our article also includes OECD research (by its Programme for International Student Assessment), New Zealand-conducted research and comments from other experts, where available.

Kind regards,

Olivia - Consumer NZ writer

Lynsie Anne M.
03 Aug 2019
Fairly useless

This is not an article written by or even about research done by Consumer, I think it is misleading and a bit shoddy.
While there are some truisms there, eg early languages skills,engaged parents etc that's obvious and not new.
Prof Hattie left NZ quite a while back and really what Consumer has reported here is one person's data from who knows when.

Consumer staff
05 Aug 2019
Re: Fairly useless

Hello Lynsie Anne,

Thanks for your comments. The conclusions in Visible Learning Plus are based on data from many studies, combined to eliminate bias. For example, the results of more than 200 studies by different researchers were put together to evaluate the policy of retention, or holding a student back a year.

Our article also includes research produced in New Zealand, research conducted by the OECD group Programme for International Student Assessment and comments from other experts, where available.

Kind regards,

Olivia - Consumer NZ writer

Bruce Owen
03 Aug 2019
Private education

Whilst it is no doubt true that young people in private education are from more affluent backgrounds, the researchers contend that private education does not make a difference. I would like to contest this very strongly and to suggest to the researchers that they investigate one school that is making a difference. Dilworth School, in Auckland, is a private school, whose foundation provides scholarships (worth over $30,000 per student) for over 600 boys from low socio economic backgrounds. The added value results of Dilworth put the school at the top end of NCEA results, well above the national average for Maori, Pasifika and other categories. Likewise the perform well above their size in cultural and sporting activities. It proves that well resourced education does work. It suggests that if the state would invest half as much or perhaps even less per child than the Dilworth Trust does, they could still make a huge difference to the education of our lower socio economic groups. Sadly state schools, especially lower socio economic schools are hindered by inadequate investment over generations of governments.

Consumer staff
05 Aug 2019
Re: Private education

Hello Bruce,

Thanks for your information about your school, Dilworth. The OECD research (https://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/pisainfocus/48482894.pdf) on private education was conducted by the organisation’s Programme for International Student Assessment. It analyses New Zealand private and public school students, but does not go down to the individual school level.

Kind regards,

Olivia - Consumer NZ writer

Martin C.
03 Aug 2019
People Ignore the Evidence

Sadly, education is an area where many people, who should know better, ignore the evidence. There is a remark from a teacher saying that she "knows" that smaller classes deliver better outcomes. Yet class size is a topic in education that has had a huge number of studies performed. And they all show much the same - class size is irrelevant except in a very small number of circumstances.

Previous member
04 Aug 2019
Reply

Hi Martin,
The studies are contradictory. It is easy to find articles that say smaller class sizes do have a positive effect on student achievement, and to find articles that say smaller class sizes have little to no effect on student achievement.

Having actually read articles written within the last few years by Filges, Mathis, Blatchford etc, clearly I don't ignore the evidence. Instead of basing my opinion on contradictory and/or cherry-picked research, I base my opinion on my day to day life of teaching young children and seeing for myself the effects of smaller class sizes.

Elizabeth B.
03 Aug 2019
Summer holidays (in Education report)

Summer holidays are about 'out of school' learning and very important for life skills.

These holidays are very important for children to learn to use their own initiative.
Schooling is often very structured and children seem to forget how to realize their own dreams and think up things to do for themselves. This is a very useful life skill.
In addition, these holidays are very important for learning about the earth and just taking time to chill out. Children are often exhausted by the end of the year- and even at the end of the term.
These are children and they need time for play activities related to their age group

Previous member
03 Aug 2019
Smaller class sizes are effective!

As a teacher, I KNOW that smaller class sizes equate to better learning outcomes for students, particularly for younger children. I currently teach a very small class for reading and have the time to take students one on one if needed. There wasn't any one on one time when I taught a class of 24 students for reading. There is so much misinformation out there about education, Consumer, please don't add to it. If you want accurate and helpful information about education, ask teachers.

Consumer staff
05 Aug 2019
Re: Smaller class sizes are effective!

Hello Sarah,

Thanks for your feedback on class sizes. Combining nearly 100 studies, the Visible Learning Plus research agreed it did have an effect, albeit a small one. The small size of the effect was pretty consistent across the studies, so we think it’s important to ask whether investing in smaller classes is the most effective use of educational funds.

Kind regards,

Olivia - Consumer NZ writer

Kim P.
03 Aug 2019
11 myths

Confusing headings less effective and actually effective. Less effective still implies some effect.

Consumer staff
05 Aug 2019
Re: 11 myths

Hello Kim,

As you point out, some of the tactics have a small, yet positive effect on achievement. We’ve tried to clearly specify whether the effect was negative, positive but small or positive and large in the summary of the evidence.

Kind regards,

Olivia - Consumer NZ writer

Catherine S.
03 Aug 2019
Disappointed in Consumer

I am really disappointed that you have relied on research by John Hattie that has been debunked by other educational experts. There are issues with his use of statistical analysis and many of his very generalised outcomes have been disproved by more robust studies. Using only one source for your information is not good enough, Consumer!!

Christine C.
03 Aug 2019
Disappointed in being misled

I agree that this heading is misleading. It isn't Consumer examining anything; it is the data from one person's analysis, and is not necessarily representative of the New Zealand environment and New Zealand results. It also depends what you believe are the most important measures. I couldn't base any decisions about my children's education on this misleading article.

Bill U.
03 Aug 2019
Reliance on Hattie

Why, with all the new and emerging researchers within NZ, especially those classroom teachers and school leaders, is Consumer blindly relying on only the meta-analysis undertaken by Professor Hattie. Time That Consumer became proactive and surveyed more broadly and scientifically. Include academic, social, emotional and physical development as well as academics, teachers, leaders, parents and students. Be a Kiwi leader.

Consumer staff
05 Aug 2019
Re: Disappointed in Consumer

Hello everyone,

Thanks for all the comments. Our article includes the Visible Learning Plus research, as well as OECD research (by its Programme for International Student Assessment), other reports and comments from other experts, where available. Where it was possible, our article outlines New Zealand-specific evidence – for example, it summarises the Our Schooling Futures report’s discussion of the decile system and New Zealand students’ results in OECD research on private schooling.

The Visible Learning Plus research uses meta-analysis, which is a well-established scientific tool for combining studies undertaken by different researchers to create conclusions with more statistical power than any one study on its own. It is also an evolving piece of research, regularly updated as new education studies are published.

If you’d like to share the studies mentioned with us, please feel free to email them to the writer: olivia@consumer.org.nz.

Kind regards,

Olivia - Consumer NZ writer

D L N P.
03 Aug 2019
Education

It is really good to see that I have not wasted all my life!!
I taught for 46 years and it is brilliant to see the research that is being done now!
We all knew that much depended on the child's early learning which actually takes place BEFORE they get to school. We did know that some children DID catch up but so many did not. I am not at all sure they could, given the learning that happens BEFORE they ever get near a classroom.
(by the way, the 70/s and 80's were when they had to build rooms and shared
space was much cheaper!)
Congratulations on the brilliant work you have done!!