Visible learning is an approach to education that focuses specifically on the elements of the teaching and learning process that have the greatest positive impact upon student achievement. Visible learning comes from the work of Professor John Hattie.
The major argument presented in this work is that when teaching and learning are visible, there is a greater likelihood of students reaching higher levels of achievement. To make teaching and learning visible requires an accomplished 'teacher as evaluator and activator', who knows a range of learning strategies to build the students' surface knowledge, deep knowledge and understanding, and conceptual understanding. The teacher needs to provide direction and redirection in terms of the content being understood, and thus make the most of the power of feedback. The teacher also needs to have the skill to get out of the way when learning is taking place and the student is making progress towards meeting the criteria against which successful learning will be judged. Visible teaching and learning also requires a commitment to seeking further challenges (for the teacher and for the student) – and herein lies a major link between challenge and feedback, two of the essential ingredients of learning. The greater the challenge, the higher the probability that one seeks and needs feedback, and the more important it is that there is a teacher to ensure that the learner is on the right path to successfully meet the challenge.
The conclusions in Visible Learning were cast as six signposts towards excellence in education, as follows.
Teachers are among the most powerful influences in learning.
Teachers need to be directive, influential, caring, and actively and passionately engaged in the process of teaching and learning.
Teachers need to be aware of what each and every student in their class is thinking and what they know, be able to construct meaning and meaningful experiences in light of this knowledge and to be able to provide meaningful and appropriate feedback such that each student moves progressively through the curriculum levels.
Teachers and students need to know the learning intentions and the criteria for student success for their lessons, know how well they are attaining these criteria for all students, and know where to go next in light of the gap between students' current knowledge and understanding and the success criteria of 'Where are you going?', 'How are you going?', and 'Where to next?'
Teachers need to move from the single idea to multiple ideas, and to relate and then extend these ideas such that learners construct, and reconstruct, knowledge and ideas. It is not the knowledge or ideas, but the learner's construction of this knowledge and ideas that is critical.