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Is Learning
Invisible?
David Didau
London Festival of Education
28th February 2015
We can’t see when we’re
wrong
If it looks like a duck…
Two definitions of learning:
1. The long-term retention and
transfer of knowledge and skills
2. A change in how the world ...
Performance
Learning
Warsaw
We believe “engaging in learning
activities…transfers the content of the activity to
the mind of the student…”
But “as lea...
The myth of progress
What we think
progress looks like
What it actually
looks like
Or maybe...?
Not
knowin
g
Knowing
Learning vs performance
• We can only infer learning from
performance
• Performance is a very poor indicator of
learning
•...
‘Poor proxies’ for learning
• Students are busy: lots of work is done
(especially written work)
• Students are engaged, in...
So where does that leave us?
• Is lesson observation wrong?
The MET Project
• If a lesson is given a top grade, there’s
a 78% chance a second observer will
give a different grade
• I...
Do we know a successful
teacher when we see one?
• Fewer than 1% of lessons judged
inadequate are genuinely inadequate
• O...
So where does that leave us?
• Is lesson observation wrong?
• What about AfL?
• Outstanding teaching?
• Marking & feedback?
What can we do?
• Increasing retrieval strength only
improves performance
• Increasing storage strength depends
on the pow...
The (New) Theory of Disuse
Retrieval strength (RS)
Storagestrength(SS)
Current
telephone
number
New
telephone
number
Telep...
“As learning occurs, so does
forgetting…”
Desirable difficulties
– Spacing
– Interleaving
– Variability
– Testing
– Reducing & delaying feedback
Hermann Ebbinghaus, 1885
The spacing effect
About
90%?
Blocking vs interleaving
Topic
1
Topic
2
Topic
3
Topic
4
Topic
5
Topic
6
Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4 Term 5 Term 6
Blocking vs interleavingTopic1
Topic6
Topic4
Topic3
Topic5
Topic2
1
6
4
3
5
21
12
Or…
Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4 Term 5 T...
Liminality & threshold concepts
Threshold concepts in English
Impact
Grammar
Structure
Analysis
Evidence
Context
The Testing Effect
Which study pattern will result in the best
test results?
1. STUDY STUDY STUDY STUDY – TEST
2. STUDY ST...
Feedback: What Hattie
actually says
Feedback is one of the most powerful
influences on learning and
achievement, but this ...
With inefficient learners, it is better for a
teacher to provide elaborations through
instruction than to provide feedback...
The power of feedback
Response type
Feedback indicates performance…
exceeds goal falls short of goal
Change
behaviour
Exer...
Bjork on feedback
• Empirical evidence suggests that delaying,
reducing, and summarizing feedback can
be better for long-t...
But, why?
• Immediate feedback can prevent
memorisation
• Students can become dependent
• Slows down pace of learning
• Pr...
What should we do?
• Separate learning from performance
• Introduce desirable difficulties
• Question your assumptions – b...
@LearningSpy
learningspy.co.uk
ddidau@gmail.com
#LFE15 Learning is invisible
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#LFE15 Learning is invisible

  1. 1. Is Learning Invisible? David Didau London Festival of Education 28th February 2015
  2. 2. We can’t see when we’re wrong
  3. 3. If it looks like a duck…
  4. 4. Two definitions of learning: 1. The long-term retention and transfer of knowledge and skills 2. A change in how the world is understood.
  5. 5. Performance Learning
  6. 6. Warsaw
  7. 7. We believe “engaging in learning activities…transfers the content of the activity to the mind of the student…” But “as learning occurs, so does forgetting…” “learning takes time and is not encapsulated in the visible here-and-now of classroom activities.” Graham Nuthall (2005) The input/output myth
  8. 8. The myth of progress What we think progress looks like
  9. 9. What it actually looks like
  10. 10. Or maybe...? Not knowin g Knowing
  11. 11. Learning vs performance • We can only infer learning from performance • Performance is a very poor indicator of learning • Reducing performance might actually increase learning
  12. 12. ‘Poor proxies’ for learning • Students are busy: lots of work is done (especially written work) • Students are engaged, interested, motivated • Students are getting attention: feedback, explanations • Classroom is ordered, calm, under control • Curriculum has been ‘covered’ (i.e. presented to students in some form) • (At least some) students have supplied correct answers (whether or not they really understood them or could reproduce them independently) Robert Coe, Improving Education: a triumph of hope over experience
  13. 13. So where does that leave us? • Is lesson observation wrong?
  14. 14. The MET Project • If a lesson is given a top grade, there’s a 78% chance a second observer will give a different grade • If a lesson is given a bottom grade, there’s a 90% chance a second observer will give a different grade. http://www.metproject.org/downloads/MET_Composite_Estimator_of_Effective_Tea ching_Research_Paper.pdf
  15. 15. Do we know a successful teacher when we see one? • Fewer than 1% of lessons judged inadequate are genuinely inadequate • Only 4% of lessons judged outstanding actually produce outstanding learning gains • Overall, 63% of judgements will be wrong Strong, M., Gargani, J., & Hacifazlioglu, O. (2011). Do we know a successful teacher when we see one? Experiments in the identification of effective teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 62(4), 367–382.
  16. 16. So where does that leave us? • Is lesson observation wrong? • What about AfL? • Outstanding teaching? • Marking & feedback?
  17. 17. What can we do? • Increasing retrieval strength only improves performance • Increasing storage strength depends on the power of forgetting:
  18. 18. The (New) Theory of Disuse Retrieval strength (RS) Storagestrength(SS) Current telephone number New telephone number Telephone number you had 20 years ago What you learn in this session
  19. 19. “As learning occurs, so does forgetting…”
  20. 20. Desirable difficulties – Spacing – Interleaving – Variability – Testing – Reducing & delaying feedback
  21. 21. Hermann Ebbinghaus, 1885 The spacing effect About 90%?
  22. 22. Blocking vs interleaving Topic 1 Topic 2 Topic 3 Topic 4 Topic 5 Topic 6 Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4 Term 5 Term 6
  23. 23. Blocking vs interleavingTopic1 Topic6 Topic4 Topic3 Topic5 Topic2 1 6 4 3 5 21 12 Or… Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4 Term 5 Term 6
  24. 24. Liminality & threshold concepts
  25. 25. Threshold concepts in English Impact Grammar Structure Analysis Evidence Context
  26. 26. The Testing Effect Which study pattern will result in the best test results? 1. STUDY STUDY STUDY STUDY – TEST 2. STUDY STUDY STUDY TEST – TEST 3. STUDY STUDY TEST TEST – TEST 4. STUDY TEST TEST TEST – TEST
  27. 27. Feedback: What Hattie actually says Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, but this impact can be either positive or negative. Simply providing more feedback is not the answer, because it is necessary to consider the nature of the feedback, the timing, and how the student ‘receives’ this feedback (or, better, actively seeks the feedback) The Power of Feedback (2007)
  28. 28. With inefficient learners, it is better for a teacher to provide elaborations through instruction than to provide feedback on poorly understood concepts… Feedback can only build on something; it is of little use when there is no initial learning or surface information. The Power of Feedback (2007) Feedback: What Hattie actually says
  29. 29. The power of feedback Response type Feedback indicates performance… exceeds goal falls short of goal Change behaviour Exert less effort Increase effort Change goal Increase aspiration Reduce aspiration Abandon goal Decide goal is too easy Decide goal is too hard Reject feedback Feedback is ignored Feedback is ignored Dylan Wiliam
  30. 30. Bjork on feedback • Empirical evidence suggests that delaying, reducing, and summarizing feedback can be better for long-term learning than providing immediate, trial-by-trial feedback. • Numerous studies—some of them dating back decades—have shown that frequent and immediate feedback can, contrary to intuition, degrade learning. Learning vs Performance (2013)
  31. 31. But, why? • Immediate feedback can prevent memorisation • Students can become dependent • Slows down pace of learning • Providing feedback of success is a waste of effort (opportunity cost)
  32. 32. What should we do? • Separate learning from performance • Introduce desirable difficulties • Question your assumptions – be prepared to ‘murder your darlings’.
  33. 33. @LearningSpy learningspy.co.uk ddidau@gmail.com

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