How to improve your learning

A man called John Hattie published a book in 2009 called Visible Learning which compared data on the effects of different aspects of learning to discover what really works and what doesn’t.

Normally, this is the kind of study that teachers will use to refine their teaching methods, but there is no reason why young people can’t use these findings and improve their own learning and results – basically, become your own teacher and take control.

Here are just a few of the top ten things that Hattie discovered had the greatest impact on success

Self-reporting – sounds fancy, right? But actually it makes total sense. When you write an essay or complete any piece of work you basically already know whether it’s any good or not. Admit it, how many times have you handed over some work whilst saying ‘sorry, it’s not very good’? Next time, try grading your own work (I don’t mean mark it) I mean just admit to yourself before you submit it what grade you expect to achieve. Don’t stop there, if the answer is not good - then fix it. Doing this apparently has the greatest effect on improving success.

Go deeper – this idea is based on a man called Piaget’s theory of the stages of cognitive development and over the age of 12 we have the ability to think abstractly and perform hypothetical reasoning. Don’t stop at just learning facts and figures, explore what you are learning about and ask yourself, ‘what if?’ This will develop your problem solving skills and also your evaluative skills (which is where the marks are in many exams)

Discuss – Persuade your teacher to build some group discussion into classes. Humans are communicative beings and we develop really quickly when we work and talk together. If you can’t get your teacher to do this then discuss what you’re learning about with whoever will listen.

Teach someone else – This is a really effective way of boosting your own understanding, especially if you find that you have to explain something in a different way to get someone else to understand you.

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