Student Control

Effect Size d = 0.04  (Hattie's Rank = 132)

AuthorsYear#studiesstudentsMean (d)CLEVariable
Niemic, R., Sikorski, C., & Walberg199624?-0.03-2%CAI control
Patall, E., Cooper, H., & Robinson200414?0.107%control

Hattie in his 2008 Nuthall Lecture:

My governing body -The Victorian Education Department, using an "evidence" paradigm, has promoted its 10 High Impact Teaching Strategies based on Hattie's work. 

Yet, also based on "evidence", it is promoting a focus on a Student Voice Practice Guide (Amplify)

But, this seems at odds with Hattie's evidence above.

Update (June 2019):

This effect size has fallen to 0.02 and another influence has been added 'School Choice Programs' d = 0.12. I am following up the new studies that Hattie used to get these results.

This low effect size seems to be at odds with much of the latest psychological research which seems to infer the opposite; that control over one's circumstances increases motivation and therefore achievement.

Ironically in an interview with Hattie, the Director General of the high achieving Finnish system, Pasi Sahlberg, contradicts Hattie by arguing that a key tenet is student control:

Again in Finnish Lessons 2.0, Sahlberg outlines their priorities - the student's have control,
'Today, students build their own personalized learning schedules from a menu of courses offered in their school or by other education institutions. Studying in upper-secondary school is therefore flexible, and selected courses can be completed at a different pace depending on students’ abilities and life situations' (p. 87).
Other examples of School's, not far from Hattie's Melbourne University, who focus on student choice:

Peter Hutton - Templestowe College:

Peter Hutton, Principal of the revolutionary college in Melbourne explains that introducing student control transformed the college:


Wayne Haworth - Mount Alexander College:

Learners thrive in a culture of choice.
'One size does not fit all, and neither should education. I believe student choice and voice is important in empowering students to learn... Allowing students to select their own study path means that when they are in class, they actually want to be there. This creates a classroom climate quite distinct from most secondary schools.' Mr Wayne Haworth, Principal.
The Studies Hattie Used:

The Patall (2008) study used a true experimental design of breaking students up into a control and experimental group. However, the study was primarily concerned with motivation, although other factors are measured:
'we were primarily interested in the effect of choice on intrinsic motivation' (p. 277).
Also, the researchers adjusted for the number of students by using a weighted average. Using weighted averages can get a very different effect size, d. Most meta-analyses do not use weighted averages, which again questions the reliability of Hattie's overall results.

Hattie reports d=0.10 for this study using the outcome 'subsequent learning' (see table below) as a proxy for achievement. Note that he could have also used 'task performance' or 'perceived competence' (as he used in other meta-analyses proxies for achievement). Averaging these 3 measures would give a much higher d = 0.34. 

So once again, Hattie's subjective interpretation is a major concern.

As Myburgh (2016, p. 10) reports in his analysis of Hattie's VL,
'No methodology of science is considered respectable in the research community when experiment design is unable to control a rampant blooming of subjectivity.'
'the experimental studies included in this meta-analysis were generally brief in duration, being conducted in a single session or, at most, a few sessions across several weeks. Thus, these designs can examine only the most short-term effects of choice. It seems reasonable then to expect that if more frequent choices were provided over a more extended period of time, significant long-term effects on subsequent learning would result. 
It is also important to note that some of these findings were based on small numbers of effect sizes, so it is difficult to place a great deal of confidence in the specific magnitude of the estimated effects' (p. 294).

'The conclusion that can be drawn from this meta-analysis supports the assertion that when individuals are allowed to affirm their sense of autonomy through choice they experience enhanced motivation, persistence, performance, and production' (p. 298).
I have not been able to access the full Niemic et al. (1996) study as yet. But I have found their abstract:
'This article concerns the effects of learner control in computer-assisted instruction (CAI).'
Also, I've found reviews of their meta-analysis:

Lunts (2002, p68)

'the research studies on LC (student control) fail to confirm or disconfirm anything.'
Von Mizener and Williams (2009) 
'these reviewers focused specifically on the concept of learner control and did not broadly synthesise the research on student choices' (p. 110).
Hattie often cites the New Zealand government funded study authored by Alton-Lee. But this also contradicts Hattie, by promoting Student Control,
'Sustained higher achievement is possible when teachers use pedagogical approaches that enable students to take charge of their own learning' (p. 92).
The Coleman Report:

The Coleman Report is widely considered the most important education study of the 20th century.
'Using data from over 600,000 students and teachers across the country, the researchers found that academic achievement was less related to the quality of a student's school, and more related to the social composition of the school, the student's sense of control of his environment and future, the verbal skills of teachers, and the student's family background.'
Professor Michael Fullan:

In Monograph 52 with the Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL) Fullan concludes that some of the features of transformed leadership will include:
'the rise of students as agents' (p. 7).
Joe Ruhl also has student control high in his popular Tedx talk:

It is ironic the company which owned the rights to Visible Learning - Cognition Education Trust (have just sold the USA rights in April 2018 to Corwin) value student opinion and have set up a student voice portal and rubric-
‘Student voice’ is the intentional collection of students’ thinking and feedback on their learning and the use of these voices to inform and improve teaching, learning, and school-wide decision making.'

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