Student Success Vs. Teaching Effectiveness

How Much of a Students Success Comes From their Teachers?

Student successfulness is one of the most important metrics to measure the overall efficiency in education. Teachers, principals, programs, schools, and universities are all evaluated by looking at how many students drop out and how many that succeed.

Student success is also one of the main drivers behind the whole economic system of universities. Less successful students equal less grants to the institution. This system acts as a powerful incentive for institutions to provide resources that effectively help students succeed. 
Basically, what institutions want is graduating students to be extremely competitive compared to other institutions and an attractive match for employees. But loosing too many along the way would be disastrous.

While students themselves obviously have the highest impact when it comes to passing through college, there’s undoubtedly more to it than just student personality. Many aspects play a role in the final product of a successful student.

Take a look at the 2016/2017 winner of the prestigious Times Higher Education University Rankings; Oxford University. 
Vice Chancellor Louise Richardson claims Oxfords’ prosperity all comes down to one thing; recruiting the best teachers.

“The best academics attract other top academics as well as smart early career academics. They attract the best students and the most competitive research funding, so it really is a virtuous circle. The key is for universities to provide an environment in which these academics are valued, in which young academics are supported and in which all are free to set their own research agendas.”

As 30% of the total ranking score is made up from the quality of teaching, there’s a lot riding on developing highly effective teachers.
Recently, the pressing issue of how to develop and maintain effective teachers has gotten a lot of well-deserved attention. Universities of England are now taking vigorous measures to ensure that teachers live up to the standard. The newly developed framework for teaching excellence (TEF) is certainly a step in the right direction. But more on that in another post.

All in all, effective teachers are extremely important to maintain a creative learning environment and keep inspiring students to work hard. 
But is there a way of telling how much of a students success should be attributed to teacher effectiveness? And what would be the result if two identical students had the same educational experience but where one had an underperforming teacher and the other an exceptional one?

That’s just what former University of Tennessee researcher Bill Sanders has been looking into. Among other findings, he discovered that if a student in the third grade received training from three high performing teachers in a row, they scored, on average, in the 96th percentile on the Tennessee’s statewide mathematics assessment three years later. Similar students who had three poor performing teachers in a row scored on average in the 44th percentile.

That’s a 52-percentile point difference. 
Just from having different teachers.

Furthermore, there’s also evidence implying that teachers have a lasting impact on student success. Students in classes of effective teachers will often benefit for years to come while students of lower performing teachers go through great struggle to get ahead.

Several studies have found strikingly similar results as Sanders, which has led to a majority of the research community now is in strong agreement; teachers have a huge impact on student success.

And we can’t agree more with them.

We think science has just started to scratch the surface on the intricate mechanisms that needs to come together to form a superior learning experience. At Hubert.ai we aim to lead the development towards a massive upgrade in teacher competence. We feel that student success should not be a matter of chance. Every student has a right to effective teaching.

As our knowledge and insights evolve, we have no intention of ever replacing teachers with bots, and we sincerely hope that won’t ever happen. Removing teachers from the learning experience would truly be a disaster.

What we’re aiming for is to help schools and teachers become more effective in their teaching and free up time for more human interaction. 
The first step towards accomplishing our goals is to improve the feedback system teachers use to collect feedback from students. That’s what led to the birth of Hubert.

Collecting qualitative feedback and automatically categorizing it into themes is just the beginning.