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Visible Learning for Social Studies, Grades K-12


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Table of Contents

List of Figures List of Videos About the Authors Acknowledgments Chapter 1. Laying the Groundwork for VISIBLE LEARNING (R) for Social Studies The Evidence Base Noticing What Works Learning From What Works General Learning Practices Conclusion Chapter 2. Surface Learning in Social Studies Why Surface Learning Is Essential Surface Acquisition and Consolidation Acquisition of Social Studies Learning Made Visible Consolidation of Social Studies Learning Made Visible Conclusion Chapter 3. Deep Learning in Social Studies Moving From Surface to Deep Deep Acquisition and Deep Consolidation Deep Acquisition of Social Studies Learning Made Visible Deep Consolidation of Social Studies Learning Made Visible Conclusion Chapter 4. Teaching for Transfer in Social Studies Moving From Deep Learning to Transfer Types of Transfer: Near and Far The Paths of Transfer: Low-Road Hugging and High-Road Bridging Setting the Conditions for Transfer of Learning Teaching Students to Organize Conceptual Knowledge Teaching Students to Transform Conceptual Knowledge Conclusion Chapter 5. Determining Impact, Responding, and Knowing What Does Not Work Determining Impact Responding When There Is Insufficient Impact Learning From What Doesn't Work Conclusion References Index

About the Author

John Hattie, Ph.D., is an award-winning education researcher and best-selling author with nearly 30 years of experience examining what works best in student learning and achievement. His research, better known as Visible Learning, is a culmination of nearly 30 years synthesizing more than 1,500 meta-analyses comprising more than 90,000 studies involving over 300 million students around the world. He has presented and keynoted in over 350 international conferences and has received numerous recognitions for his contributions to education. His notable publications include Visible Learning, Visible Learning for Teachers, Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn, Visible Learning for Mathematics, Grades K-12, and, most recently, 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning. Julie Stern is an author, trainer and instructional coach, supporting schools in transforming teaching and learning around the globe. Her depth and breadth of knowledge combined with her vision and contagious energy make her an in-demand facilitator in many areas including visible learning, concept-based curriculum, differentiated classrooms and formative assessments. Julie is the author of Tools for Teaching Conceptual Understanding, is certified in researcher John Hattie's Visible Learning as well as H. Lynn Erickson's Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction. She is a James Madison Constitutional Scholar and taught social studies for many years in DC and Louisiana. Julie previously served as the director of public policy and curriculum innovation at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools in Washington, DC, where she led the revision of curriculum in all subject areas grades 6 - 12. Her email is: and her blog is Douglas Fisher, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College having been an early intervention teacher and elementary school educator. He is the recipient of an International Reading Association William S. Grey citation of merit, an Exemplary Leader award from the Conference on English Leadership of NCTE, as well as a Christa McAuliffe award for excellence in teacher education. He has published numerous articles on reading and literacy, differentiated instruction, and curriculum design as well as books, such as PLC+: Better Decisions and Greater Impact by Design, Building Equity, and Assessment-capable Learners. He can be reached at Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is a Professor in Educational Leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. She has been a special education teacher, reading specialist, and administrator in public schools. Nancy has engaged in Professional Learning Communities as a member and in designing schoolwide systems to improve teaching and learning for all students. She has published numerous books, including The Teacher Clarity Playbook and Rigorous Reading.


As I read this book I became increasingly aware of my own self-talk saying: 'yes, of course, that's absolutely right, that's what we must do, now I get it.' The authors reassert a vital humanist approach to what, how and why students learn about their societies, history, culture and the wider world around them. It reminds us that we have a duty to prepare young minds for complex global challenges with a deep, critical and nuanced understanding.

-- Neville Kirton

This book is a wonderful addition to any busy teacher or curriculum writer's library. Meant for K-12, it is easy to read and implementable at any point in the year. The strategies provided teach students to utilize their background knowledge but dare to think critically in unfamiliar situations.

-- Heather Giustiniani,

Visible Learning for Social Studies will inspire teachers, guide curriculum coordinators and instructional coaches, and will help educators bring transfer and thinking back into the humanities classroom. This book will help humanities teaches rediscover the value of their subject and will revitalize their approach to designing learning.

-- J. Rafael Angel

This is that unicorn of education books; it combines compelling classroom stories with accessible, relevant information about the research undergirding the change ideas. It is rich with resources and tools that teachers can use to make immediate changes in their units, but more than that, it will inspire teachers to pursue their own change ideas and research as they work to create just and equitable classroom communities.

-- Angela Wilcox

While most books on educational pedagogy focus on areas outside of social studies, Visible Learning for Social Studies takes John Hattie's critical work and makes it accessible for social studies teachers. The authors provide a clear and practical guide to implementing the most effective, evidence-based teaching strategies that will engage your social studies students. This book is a must-read for social studies teachers of all grade levels.

-- Kevin Lopuck

Having a resource like this - with so many applicable strategies and examples - will assert a conversation around social studies education in my division. This resource aligns with our division's goal of more rigorous and relevant assessment, paired with appropriate feedback.

-- Vince Bustamante

Visible Learning for Social Studies is an instructional treasure trove for teachers of social studies. The authors offer practical, usable and specific instructional strategies that work best at the surface, deep and transfer phases of learning with examples from kindergarten to grade 12. In today's world of mass media, social studies lessons must engage students in learning at deeper levels and help them develop a fluency in critical literacy skills. With that purpose, this book is a must-have, must-use text for all social studies teachers.

-- Cathy J. Lassiter

As a nationwide movement grows to provide greater support for K-12 social studies education, books like this provide first-hand, data-driven recommendations for how educators can enhance student learning in this space. If you are part of the effort to improve social studies education in this country, you should read this book.

-- Julie Silverbrook

Visible Learning for Social Studies is an essential addition to the learning library of all social studies educators who are looking to connect research-based best practices with the different ways we engage our students in learning. Best of all, the research is clearly connected to classroom-ready examples that give K-12 teachers the support they need to implement the ideas from the book in order to best support moving their student learning forward. I would highly recommend this book to social studies educators at all grade levels as it cleanly synthesizes decades of research into usable examples based on the different learning levels (surface, deep, and transfer), with support around understanding the importance of the research and the impact in your own classroom.

-- Joe Schmidt

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