Dispelling 9 common myths on how to improve student achievement

6. Myth: Facilitating learning through inquiry and project-based learning is the route to better student achievement.

Hattie said that while project-based learning and inquiry can be effective instructional techniques, they only reach their highest potential after specific content has been mastered. These techniques require sufficient surface level understanding of concepts by students, so to use the technique generically across subjects is not as effective as using specific content with problem-solving methods to deepen learning in one subject.

7. Myth: Teachers learn by watching videos of their work.

Reviewing videos of their teaching can help teachers identify areas of improvement in their instruction. However, this is only true when student reactions to the instruction are included, which allows teachers to see what was understood by the students and what needed more clarification or direction.

8. Myth: Eliminating social promotion will give students more time to learn critical foundational skills.

Repeating a grade actually has a negative effect on student achievement (at every age) and is correlated with negative social and emotional adjustment, behavior, and self-concept, emphasized Hattie.

9. Myth: Ability grouping can be effective.

While some believe grouping students by ability allows teachers to customize learning to students’ learning pace, in reality the opposite is true—it has a barely discernible impact on student achievement, said Hattie.  The greatest negative effect is that students from minorities are more likely to be in the lower groups and such equity issues should raise major concerns.

Dr. John Hattie can be reached here.

For an infographic on Hattie’s 800+ meta studies, click here.

Meris Stansbury

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at