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Dimensions of Classroom and School Practices: Overcoming Obstacles to Learning Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Obstacles to student learning and development may arise from students’ personal circumstances, such as poverty and substance abuse, as well as from specific learning difficulties and the organisation of school institutions. Schools are charged with the task providing all students with equal opportunities to succeed and, thus, must address barriers to teaching and learning (Adelman & Taylor, 2002).

The Learning Bar’s Teacher Survey is a self-evaluation tool for teachers that is based on ‘effective schools’ research, consisting of eight of the most important variables associated with student outcomes, and coupled with the Outward Bound model of teaching and learning covered in John Hattie’s book, Visible Learning (Hattie, 2009).

Why is it important?

  • Educators need to differentiate instruction in order to meet the diverse learning profiles of students (Tomlinson et al, 2003).  
  • Teachers have the requisite skills and knowledge to teach all children, including those who experience learning difficulties (Florina, 2008).  
  • Mainstream teaching strategies can be adapted for students identified as having special educational needs (Florina, 2008).  
  • Interventions that target study skills can enhance learning for all students (Hattie, Biggs, & Purdie, 1996).  
  • Classroom interventions that are designed to promote socially responsible behaviour at school can result in better academic achievement (Wentzel, 1993).

In Tell Them From Me, teachers respond to 16 items, which cut across the eight constructs pertaining to school climate. Each item is responded to on a five-point scale which is scored as follows: 0 (Strongly Disagree), 1 (Disagree), 2 (Neither Agree nor Disagree), 3 (Agree), and 4 (Strongly Agree). The data are scaled on a 10-point scale and the results are reported as ‘the average score for overcoming obstacles’. These 16 items are a combination of items used to construct the eight drivers of student learning: leadership, collaboration, learning culture, data informs practice, teaching strategies, technology, inclusive school and parent involvement.



Adelman, H. S., & Taylor, L. (2002). Building comprehensive, multifaceted, and integrated approaches to address barriers to student learning. Childhood Education, 78(5), 261-268.

Florian, L. (2008). Special or inclusive education: Future trends. British Journal of Special Education, 35(4), 202-208.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.

Hattie, J., Biggs, J., & Purdie, N. (1996). Effects of learning skills interventions on student learning: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 66(2), 99-136.

Tomlinson, C. A., Brighton, C., Hertberg, H., Callahan, C. M., Moon, T. R., Brimijoin, K., Conover, L. A., & Reynolds, T. (2003). Differentiating instruction in response to student readiness, interest, and learning profile in academically diverse classrooms: A review of literature. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 27(2-3), 119-145.

Wentzel, K. R. (1993). Does being good make the grade? Social behavior and academic competence in middle school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(2), 357-364.