The Visible Classroom intervention supports teachers’ professional practice development by providing personalised feedback and mentorship on teaching practice, with the aim of improving student mathematics and reading outcomes in Years 5 and 6 (ages 9 – 11).
Teachers received a word-for-word transcript of each of their lessons that they recorded and submitted to the programme platform, and a data dashboard with summary statistics (e.g.: teacher talk time, speed of speaking, number of teacher and student questions asked). In addition, they received a feedback report that assessed their lessons and offered considerations for improvement, designed to encourage critical reflection and improvements in classroom practice, as well as links to other informational resources, and collaborative professional dialogue sessions with a nominated teaching mentor
Quality of teaching is a key determinant of learning outcomes, and there is good evidence that timely, appropriate feedback can improve teaching. The EEF previously funded a pilot of the Visible Classroom intervention, which found that teachers were positive about the approach. This re-grant was designed to examine whether the approach had a positive impact on pupil outcomes.
Our trial of the Visible Classrooms intervention involved teachers of 7230 students from 86 schools. The independent evaluation found that pupils taught by teachers in intervention schools made, on average, one month less progress is KS2 reading and maths. This result has moderate to high security. While this is our best estimate, the statistical uncertainty around the result is consistent with larger negative or small positive effects.
The process evaluation identifies a number of barriers to implementation that might have prevented the intervention from having a positive impact. For example, teachers found they did not have enough time to properly engage with the feedback they were given, and some teachers felt self-conscious about lessons being recorded. A limitation of this trial is that it did not examine teacher practice change within schools.
The EEF continues to be interested in approaches that aim to provide support to developing great teachers
- Pupils in schools that received Visible Learning made, on average, one month less progress in combined KS2 maths and reading compared to children in the control schools. This is our best estimate, which has a high security rating. Variability around this best estimate means that possible impacts of the study include larger negative effects and negligible positive effects.
- A negative impact of two months reduction in learning was estimated for KS2 reading outcomes for students in Year 5. The variability around this best estimate means that, while the possible results are consistently negative, the magnitude may be larger or smaller than a two month reduction.
- Among children eligible for free school meals (FSM), those in the treatment schools made no additional progress in the KS2 maths and reading outcome measure compared to those in the control groups. These results may have lower security than the overall findings because of the smaller number of pupils. Variability around the estimate indicates that possible effects range between substantial positive and negative impacts.
- The IPE found that iterative feedback was especially well received in schools with an open working culture that encouraged feedback compared to schools where feedback was emphasised less.
- There were a number of implementation barriers that may have hindered the success of the intervention. Examples included teachers not having enough time to properly engage with the feedback they were given and, in some cases, feeling self-conscious about lessons being recorded.