Research and Links

Professor John Hattie’s research review synthesises research that tells us which factors, and which teaching methods really make the difference to student acheivement.

  • Download an explanatory paper about Hattie’s work here
  • Download Hattie’s original paper ‘Influences on Student Learning’ here
  • There are many other useful papers on Professor Hattie’s site, follow the links on the left of his webpages:
  • See short videocasts by Geoff by clicking here then choosing ‘effect sizes’ from the video clips menu

How do we know what works in schools and colleges?

There is one obvious way to find out….. try a teaching strategy out on an experimental group, and have a control group which is being taught without this teaching strategy, but is otherwise identical. Then you compare the learning of these two groups. How much more the experimental group learns than the control group, is called the effect size:
An effect size of 1.0 is equivalent to a two grade leap at GCSE
An effect size of 0.5 is equivalent to a one grade leap at GCSE.

There are a number of teaching strategies that add more than one grade to students learning. Professor John Hattie has collected average effect sizes from more than 500 reasearch reviews or ‘meta-studies’. He then put these average effect sizes in order to create a table of what variables or teaching methods ahve the greatest effect on achievement. In effect this summarises practically all the effective control group research done internationally to date.

Top of Hattie’s list is feedback, go to the feedback page to learn more about this very important variable.

The teaching method that gets to the top of his table is ‘direct instruction’, this is not what it sounds like! While it is very teacher controlled, the students are very active and are held very accountable for their learning. Find out more:
Download ‘Direct Instruction’ here.

Feedback requires the learner to do something active first, for example to answer some questions, do an exercise, write an essay, or make something. This is ‘active learning’ go to the active learning page to ge tsome ideas on some new active methods.


Some of the research on this page is school based, some is college based. In general Professor Hattie who is the world expert on this matter has found that if a strategy works in schools it will work about as well in colleges and vice versa, with suitable adaption of course. So don’t be put off research in sectors other than your own too easily.

What does research tell us about what works? Some links…..

Professor Marzano’s summaries of research are exceptionally useful and readable, download the pdf on this link . The Theory based meta analysis on the same page is much more detailed and harder work to read.

ERIC is the largest collection of short papers summarising educational research available on the internet. Just type the topic you want information on into the search box:

This is another easy to use searchable resource bank:

The What Works Clearinghouse is an excellent source of research summaries, which they carry out with some rigour:

Research reviews into FE issues can be found at:

LSDA publications are often very useful summaries of good practice, for example those by Paul Martinez summarise what Action Research and other research has told us about what works in colleges:

If you want to find out how other colleges have raised retention or achievement there is a key word searchable database of excellent case studies at, choose delveopment projects:

A good introduction to the ideas of evidence based practice can be found at:

The NERF bulletin is worth reading:

Some useful academic research reviews are included here:

Search the research:
Search research with the following, but remember that research reviews and meta-studies are usually more useful and reliable than individual pieces of research. Also reviews that tell you ‘how to’ are often more useful than knowledge based reviews. Both reviews/meta-studies, and individual studies can be searched for at:

General interest:

Professor John Hattie’s webiste has many interesting papers, follow the links on the left of his pages:

Cambridge Regional College has made a lot of use of Geoff’s materials