If you read one education book this year….
If you read one education book this year, it should be John Hattie’s Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. A meta-analysis is an article that quantitatively sums up the effect sizes of multiple studies about a particular topic. As Hattie points out, meta-analyses are not perfect but, well-constructed, they are almost always an improvement over relying on a single study. So you can imagine the power of a book that summarizes more than 800 different meta-analyses! The book is very readable and down-to-earth. The stats are there for quant nerds but the author makes sure that you can still understand his points even if you aren’t really a numbers person. For instance, he uses pictures of what looks like a speedometer to demonstrate whether the effect size of a particular approach, factor or intervention is negative, low, medium or high. He sums up research on many if not most topics a journalist might find herself covering including charter schools, bilingual education, computer-assisted learning and school finance. The final chapter ties everything together. I think what I like best about this book is the way that Hattie focuses in on cumulative evidence rather than relying on ideology. My only complaint about this book is that I wish I had discovered it sooner!
What is your favorite education book?
This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.