Hattie and Yates on discovery learning and low ability students

Chapter 9 of the new book by Hattie and Yates has probably one of the more controversial paragraphs in the book. While many people defend discovery learning, Hattie and Yates go to great length why this is a wrong assumption with the lack of research supporting this idea.

One element, I think, is very relevant:

“For instance, several studies have found that low ability students will prefer discovery learning lessons to direct-instruction-based lessons, but learn less from them. Under conditions of low guidance, the knowledge gap between low and high ability students tend to increase. The lack of direct guidance has greater damaging effects on learning in low ability students especially when procedures are unclear, feedback is reduced, and misconceptions remain as problems to be resolved rather than errors to be corrected.”

20 thoughts on “Hattie and Yates on discovery learning and low ability students

  1. […] It’s the current view of many thinkers on education: education should be student-centred. A new study by Morgan, Farkas and Maczuga looks at possible correlations between what teachers (in the study in the US) report in surveys of their teaching practices and achievement of different groups of children in mathematics. The study found that first-grade teachers in classrooms with higher percentages of students with mathematics difficulties (MD) were more likely to be using ineffective instructional practices with these students. And those practices were often student-centred. (Looking at this quote from Hattie & Yates not that surprising actually.) […]

    1. They describe ‘discovery learning’ as the suggestion “that personal discovery within itself assists a person to actually learn” (p.78). They don’t define low ability as such, but when I look at the research they mention low-ability could be translated in part as having little background knowledge on the topic.

  2. […] This ambition may seem a bit conservative to some, but there is indeed scientific evidence to back this approach (and I’m looking forward to the next blog post). The most interesting sentence in the post to me, is this one: “A knowledge curriculum can be a powerful force in combating educational inequality.” There isn’t a citation to this claim included in the text, but I would refer to Hattie & Yates 2013, check here. […]

  3. […] Enige tijd geleden schreef ik een blog over het gemis van betekenisvolle teksten in het leerlingmateriaal van verschillende methodes voor wereldoriënterende vakken voor het basisonderwijs. Deze blog had als titel ‘Tekstarm’ en met een reden. Deze methodes bevatten namelijk in toenemende mate minder tekst en dat is een probleem. Dat bleek nogmaals toen in december de laatste PISA-scores bekend werden. In plaats van langere betekenisvolle teksten neemt ontdekkend en onderzoekend leren een steeds prominentere plaats in, terwijl leerlingen op de basisschool veelal voor het eerst serieus met een onderwerp in aanraking komen. De basis voor kennis over het onderwerp wordt daar dus gelegd en directe instructie is in dat stadium een effectievere methode, die bovendien de kansenongelijkheid doet afnemen. […]

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