5 thoughts on “John Hattie on inquiry-based learning (don’t do it too early in the learning process)

  1. While I agree intuitively with what is being said here about sequencing and the prior knowledge required for inquiry-based learning, I would question the assumption that an effect size of 0.31 is small. That, at least, is Dylan Wiliam’s take on effect sizes at http://www.workingoutwhatworks.com/en-GB/Resource-library/Videos/2014/rED-v-dylan-wiliam-2014, at 21:40, when he says that:

    People think that effect sizes of 0.3 are small. In education, they are huge. An effect size of 0.3, in a secondary school, would be doubling the speed of student learning. I think doubling the speed of student learning is worth having.

    What do Hattie and Pedro say to that?

    1. I can’t speak for Hattie but I agree that you don’t have to dismiss an effect size of .30 . It’s not about what works and what doesn’t. The question is rather what works better and for who. The effect sizes are an average which hides e.g. a Mathew effect.

      1. Nothing to disagree with there. But I would like to see the research which showed (as we both expect that it would) that inquiry based instruction worked better when it was well prepped.

        The problem with Hattie’s position is not in his theory of what ought to work better and what ought to work less well – the problem is in his interpretation of the evidence that he currently has to hand, when he asks in his initial slide “Why does inquiry based learning only have an effect size of 0.31?” What’s that “only” doing in there?

      2. Ah yes – that makes sense, direct instruction having an effect size of .82 on Hattie’s table at http://www.teacherstoolbox.co.uk/T_effect_sizes.html.

        Though this assumes that the two are mutually exclusive (which the possibility of using DI to prep Inquiry shows is not the case) and raises the difficulty that in education research, almost anything you do shows a positive effect size – presumably as a result of the Hawthorne and other sorts of observation bias. Maybe that is a point that needs to be taken into account when asserting that 0.3 is a large effect.

        I think that leaves me wanting to see more research at a more detailed level of granularity (exclusively DI versus exclusively Inquiry versus different combinations of the two) – which are not IMO going to be realistic until we have edtech which harvests learning outcome data automatically and in much greater quantities than traditional research methodologies can accomplish.

        But thanks for the post and the replies.

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