Book Review: Visible Learning

Academic Computing

Visible Learning by John Hattie (2009) is well-described by its subtitle: “A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement”. It is an attempt to summarise a huge amount of educational research about what works and what doesn’t into a single volume. This post is my review/analysis of the book.


The concept of the book sounded excellent: a meta-meta-analysis. To unpack that: a single study might look at some students and the effect that a particular change (e.g. requiring students to have an iPad) had on their achievement. But a single study can be biased by having a small sample, or various confounds (e.g. students’ familiarity with iPads). A meta-analysis looks across many studies of a particular change, to try to get a more reliable sense of the effect. Hattie’s Visible Learning aimed to be a meta-meta-analysis: a look at a huge array of meta-analyses to get a good picture…

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