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 a summary of Hattie’s findings here.
  • Short videos and other information about Hattie’s approach can be found here.
  • See short videocasts by Geoff by clicking here then choosing ‘effect sizes’ from the video clips menu

Effect sizes are only one way of finding what works best, and they shouldn’t be taken as the holy grail, or the only grail.  Read about how Geoff integrates effect-size research with qualitative research such as cognitive science, and research on what the best teachers do to ‘triangulate’ findings here.

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.

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 get some ideas on some new active methods.

Arguably, improving teaching is the manager’s  most important role.  Research reviews on how to improve teaching show the best way is Supported Experiments, find out about this here.


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.

John Hattie has identified factors that have a great effect on student achievement, his Visible Learning books are a vital source of information but here is a starter.

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

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:

Some useful academic research reviews are included in the jouurnal Review of Educational Research

Search the research:

General interest:

Cambridge Regional College created a website from Geoff’s materials on

If you want to do your own research you might find BERA helpful: