GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Visible learning for all

Free big data resource helps teachers tailor solutions to their school.

John Hattie first published his Visible Learning book in 2009, synthesising more than 800 meta-analyses on the influences of achievement in students. Since then, a wide range of his research into performance indicators and evaluation in education has built up, prompting it all to be published online for free access. is regularly updated with new research, developments and FAQs. Those in education now have access to a wide range of research, to help them ask and answer questions on areas for improvement.

“Everyone has an ‘itch’, a topic or question that they want to explore,” said Sarah Philp, Director of Learning Scotland at Osiris Educational. “This database gives teachers and education leaders the starting point to test out areas for improvement and find something to focus on.”

Tailoring the data for your school

The user-friendly interface allows education professionals to find different influences, their impact and the research available to support this.

The database is split into nine domains, including ‘Home’, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Technology, School and Out-of-School Strategies’. More than 250 factors that influence student achievement have been identified throughout the 25 years Hattie has been conducting his research. A score or “effect size” was calculated for each, according to its bearing on student achievement. The average effect size is 0.4 – anything above this is seen to have a great positive impact on the school and learners.

“The idea isn’t to find the activities that have been shown to have a greater positive impact on learning, but to help find what might be right for your school,” explains Sarah. “Every school is different and there is no ‘top 10’ of what you should be doing.”

Data dispels classroom myths

Low-performing influencers

Many of the influencers likely to have a negative impact on learning are obvious: expulsion, social media and illness. But the influencers that are categorised as “likely to have a small impact” are more interesting to look at.

Class size is often talked about when it comes to teaching and learning, but this analyses shows that reducing the class size to allow more individualised student-teacher interactions has an effect size of 0.15. This means that it is likely to have a small positive impact, that is to say it doesn’t work as well as some other influencers.

High-performing influencers

Teacher clarity was identified as having a larger influence score. This relates to the way teachers set out, organise and explain learning intentions: “Clear learning intentions describe the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and values that the student needs to learn.”

Collective teacher efficacy was also identified as having a larger effect score. This not only relates to collaborative working and learning, but also “the shared belief by a group of teachers in a particular educational environment that they have the skills to positively impact student outcomes”.

The jigsaw method, originally developed by Elliot Aronson, also has a high effect score. Again, this looks at collaborative learning: a topic is introduced by a teacher, then a range of subtopics. The pupils are then split into home groups, and each given a subtopic to research. From there, they form an expert group and each member works together to research their subtopic. At the end, members return to their home group and report back.

Pupils learn to work together and report back, but through focussing on one topic rather than several at one time.

“It’s all about applying the theory to practice,” Sarah explained. Some influencers might not be possible, where others that are shown to have a negative impact might actually work in your school.


Visible Learning MetaX was developed by Corwin. Osiris Educational is the UK partner for the Visible Learning programme. The database can be accessed at Printable resources can be found at visible-learning-infographics/

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