What has the biggest effect on learning?

Go ahead and test yourself as a parent, as a teacher, or as a student. Which two of these five factors have the biggest effect on what a student learns? Think, decide, then jump to the end to find the answer.

A. The student – how bright he or she is

B. The student’s school

C. The school principal

D. The effect of other students

E. The teacher


So that is the data, but the most significant part of that data is which teachers have the biggest impact?


Some teachers are clearly better than others.


And with the experience Train The Teacher have of over 6000 hours observing teachers, writing feedback on their learning outcomes and giving them guidance on how to teach, we have to say that the guidance we give MyIT tutors is closely reflected in the definition below from John Hattie of an expert (exceptional) teacher.


https://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Pedagogy-and-assessment/Building-effective-learning-environments/Teachers-make-a-difference-What-is-the-research-evidence

‘We were particularly interested … (in) … the expertise that underpinned the expert teachers.

We identified five major dimensions of excellent teachers.


Expert teachers

__can identify essential representations of their subject,

__can guide learning through classroom interactions,

__can monitor learning and provide feedback,

__can attend to affective attributes, and

__can influence student outcomes’


Expert teachers do differ from experienced teachers – particularly on the way they represent their classrooms, the degree of challenges that they present to students, and most critically, in the depth of processing that their students attain. Students who are taught by expert teachers exhibit an understanding of the concepts targeted in instruction that is more integrated, more coherent, and at a higher level of abstraction than the understanding achieved by other students.

These students appear to exhibit an understanding of the concepts targeted in instruction that is more integrated, more coherent, and at a higher level of abstraction than the understanding achieved by other students.’

When we look at any teacher we have to keep in mind that though a teacher can learn a good deal about teaching methodology, the biggest effect on learning outcomes comes from how the teacher as a person is engaged emotionally and intellectually in the learning process.


That teacher will be fully aware of the learning context at any given moment, and will be automatically adapting or adjusting the lesson input in order to achieve a ‘learning’ outcome for individual students.


The expert teacher will be actively engaging learners, and actively engaging their deep processing of information and ideas so that their knowledge and skills around a subject is enhanced.


So, with all we know about learning, and all the concerns about which school to send your child to, in the end we know two things: brighter students learn more and the biggest effect on that student is the teacher.


A. The student has the biggest effect at 50% – yes, bright students learn more.

E. The teacher has the next biggest effect at 30% - yes, more important than the school, the principal or other students who rank at 5 to 10%


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