Reflecting on Chapter 7 of Hattie’s Visible Learning


“…This places feedback in the top ten influences on achievement, although there is considerable variability- but how to account for the variability? My argument is that feedBack works at four levels and addresses three questions”

(Hattie, p. 130, Visible Learning for Teachers 2012)

After pondering verbal feedback further, I decided to get in touch with Shirley Clarke. In fact, I sent her an e-mail after I had written my blog last night in a quest to focus my research into verbal feedback. She promptly got back in touch with me and suggested I read chapter 7 of John Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers (I have all of his books in our Leadership Library at School so I swiftly took it home).

Here is a chapter that reinforces everything we have been talking about with staff and issues that I have been thinking and debating with myself over these past few months. First in this chapter he explores the three feedback questions; Where am I going? How am I going there? and Where to next?

From this he discusses the four levels of feedback which relate to the type of learners and learning that is taking place. This section ends with findings from research that suggest that praise alongside feedback dilutes the intention of the feedback message. He asserts that praise should be left out of feedback regarding learning.

I am now thinking about all of those comments that teachers write in exercise books, “Well done. What excellent work…etc,etc.” Those comments that really are intended to highlight to ‘other’ people external to the class that they have ‘marked’ the work. When we were doing our first book scrutiny of the year, these were the questions we were asking ourselves. What is the ‘purpose’ of this marking? Is it necessary to ‘praise’ children’s work? Is there a difference between the feedback on ‘work’ and ‘learning’? Are we too quick to give praise on ‘work’ when it may not be really deserved? Are we creating a culture in which praise is just ‘expected’? As Hattie suggests, it ties into Dweck’s research in Growth Mindset and her suggestion that ‘effort’ should be praised (obviously in the right ways).

It would be interesting to hear other people’s views on praise and feedback on learning. What are your thoughts? Very interesting reading if you haven’t read it yet…

Thank you to Shirley Clarke for putting me onto the right path…


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