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Teacher Efficiency and High Effect Size

By Robert Holl, Cofounder

Teaching involves a lot more than just teaching. Teachers are also tasked with lesson preparation, grading student work, dealing with social and emotional issues, providing feedback, scheduling and leading meetings, analyzing data to inform their instruction, coping with constant interruptions – and these are only a few of the many things teachers squeeze into each school day.

As a result, teachers constantly struggle to manage their time. Making the most out of the time available for actual instruction on any given school day requires efficiency and skilled time management.

Over the next few months, I’ll be discussing some of the ways teachers can maximize the impact of their instructional time. Selecting the best teaching practices to meet standards and strengthen every student’s achievement is valuable for every teacher, and efficiency plays an important role in those practices.

Some of what I’ll be sharing on instructional practices originated in John Hattie’s book Visible Learning. Hattie’s work, based on more than 800 meta-analyses involving more than 50,000 studies related to student achievement, has resulted in shared findings on educational practices and their effect size.

Effect size:

A method for quantifying the standardized mean difference between two groups.

This method’s advantages over typical statistical tests include:

  • being easy to understand
  • accurately determining efficacy
  • effectively predicting expected impacts across a range of scenarios
  • synthesizing results of several studies into a single estimate or metric.

For those of you unfamiliar with effect size, my next article will discuss more of its practical applications. Think of effect size as a useful tool for demonstrating the effectiveness of a strategy or teaching practice, or for comparing one practice to another.

Ideally, researchers seek higher effect sizes: the higher the effect size, the better the learning outcomes. For example: practices with an effect size of .2 have a small impact on achievement, an effect size of .4 will have medium impact, and an effect size of .8 or more will have a large impact. An effect size closer to zero has almost no impact on student achievement. Negative effect sizes suggest that teachers should avoid those practices, since they adversely impact student achievement.

At Learning A-Z, we focus on instructional practices with a positive effect. In my next article, I’ll introduce a specific approach that has a measurably high impact on student achievement, with an effect size of .75. I’ll explain this research-based approach to teaching and how it helps teachers focus on practices that have a high impact on learning. An approach with an effect size of .75 like the one I’ll describe can actually double the rate of student learning. Stay tuned to our Breakroom Blog for the next article to find out more about effect size!