• An analysis of the decision making processes and criteria applied by adolescents selecting A level subjects and place of study

      Scott, Michael Bennet (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2002-07)
      The research was stimulated by involvement in leading elements of an Education Management programme. Developing part of the teaching material led to the realisation that while pupils' choice of school has been extensively researched it appeared that subject choice, particularly at A level had not. It also became apparent that ideas and models concerning decision making, extensively adopted within the Consumer Behaviour literature had not been applied in this context. Extensive reviews ofthe literature confirmed this position and indicated that the post sixteen school choice was also under researched and further that it was not possible to apply extant consumer behaviour models directly to the A level or School choice contexts. The research programme consisted of a mixture of qualitative and quantitative techniques. Building on elements of theory, from the literature, exploratory research employing focus groups was used to develop an initial model of adolescent pupil decision making. Early in the exploratory research it was found that the decision for adolescents choosing where to study their A levels was inextricably linked to choice of subjects. Choice of A level subjects was added to the research programme. Based on the exploratory results a quantitative study, using questionnaires, was developed to test the model on both single (choosing a school) and multiple (choosing A level subjects) choice situations. The study investigated differences between single-choice and multiple-choice decision making, an area neglected by consumer research, which provides at least a partial explanation of the process used by the pupils when they choose schools/colleges and A level subjects. Findings identify that although some aspects ofthe choice process are similar, there are important differences between the two types of decision. Evoked set are larger for multiple-choice decisions, and multi-choice decisions are likely to involve more stages in the decision making process than single-choice decisions. The results also identified that the parents' role has changed from 'decider', when their children were younger, to 'influencer', with the adolescent pupils becoming the decision makers. Concomitantly, choice criteria are shown to have evolved with 'discipline' decreasing markedly in importance and subject range increasing. The pre-eminence of personal sources of information is confinued but co-orientation emphasised.
    • Exploring the experience of liminality in learners of secondary school physics

      Appleby, David (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-06)
      The idea of 'threshold concepts' has attracted attention and framed many enquiries into learning, particularly in higher education, since it was first proposed by Meyer and Land in 2003. It has formed the basis of a broadly-based scholarly community; however, it lacks some of the features of the kind of generative research programmes described by Lakatos. These include the lack of an explicit ontological and epistemological position and a lack of clarity around the fundamental concepts of transformation and liminality. Instead, much of the literature on threshold concepts uses metaphors and analogies and borrows from eclectic fields and traditions. This is particularly evident in discussions of the liminality found amongst learners when confronted by troublesome knowledge or cognitive conflicts. This empirically-based study proposes that it is possible to understand the philosophical perspectives underpinning threshold concepts in terms of a commitment to ontological realism combined with epistemological constructivism. This combination is evident elsewhere, notably in constructivist science education, in physics, and in the tension between classic Glaserian and Charmazian constructivist grounded theory. This study therefore uses a hybridised grounded theory approach, combined with a think-aloud method, in order to study experiences of liminality among pre-university learners faced with a threshold concept in physics. Learners used reflective self-dialogue and deliberative problem—solving strategies to reconcile a mismatch in explanations. Key characteristics of liminality were identified including threshold avoidance, two forms of stuckness, oscillation and mimicry. However, the use of grounded analysis resulted in a reinterpretation of liminality from a period during which transformative learning took place to one in which a learner actively explored the problem space; active exploratory learning emerged as a core category. This facilitated a change in perspective from teacher-centric to learner-centric, a resolution of the two forms of stuckness previously observed, and the development of a coherent narrative to explain oscillation and mimicry and to enable a resolution of the differences between the ‘possible breakthrough ideas’ observed during this study and the ‘eureka’ moments described in the literature. This reinterpretation enables the development of a new understanding of liminality which paves the way towards the development of threshold concepts as a theory of learning. It also demands a pedagogical refocusing from the remediation or avoidance of learner deficit to strategies for enabling learners to make the most of the liminal experience.
    • How do we raise attainment in literacy at Key Stage 3 in a supplementary school?

      Olugbaro, Margaret Iyabode Adenike (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2015-09)
      This research project is concerned with raising attainment by addressing the problems associated with literacy (reading, writing and spellings) at Key Stage 3 in the context of a supplementary school. It looks at different ways of addressing specifically identified problems associated with reading, writing and spellings by designing relevant forms of intervention and tracking progress within an emancipatory approach of the sort advocated by Freire (1970; 1972). Students’ low performance in literacy at Key Stage 3 as observed in a survey carried out by Clark, (2012, p.9-13) revealed that more than fifty per cent of Key Stage 3 students (11-13 years) do not enjoy reading or writing, and/or experience difficulties. Current legislation, the Children and Families’ Act, 2014, provides for additional funding in schools for those young people with the most serious difficulties in learning, for example those who are severely dyslexic. Around two percent of the student population receive additional support for their learning needs in this way (Wearmouth, 2012). It is obvious, therefore, that there are many students, in addition to this two percent, who require additional specialist support for their learning needs that is not available through individual resourcing in schools. The current study, albeit small-scale, indicates that students who experience difficulties in literacy can make rapid improvement in a supplementary school that is based on the principles underpinning supplementary schools in general, but, in the case of adolescents who are disengaged from literacy learning, also adopts an emancipatory approach that takes seriously their own views of their learning and the difficulties they have experienced, and supports their own agency in enhancing their literacy learning outcomes. Lessons learnt from this study can contribute to thinking around alternative approaches to re-engaging students with their literacy learning when provision is designed to engage their personal interests and the young people have a measure of control over their own learning. There may be a suggestion that high-achieving students may also benefit in this way.
    • The role of the TGfU pedagogical approach in promoting physical activity levels during physical education lessons and beyond

      Smith, Lindsey Rachel (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2010-10)
      The study was designed to initially determine levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) occurring during physical education in 11-12 year olds using appropriate objective methods. Subsequently, the potential of a pedagogical method; ‘teaching games for understanding’ to increase PA levels and self determined motivation during PE lessons, and habitual physical activity during leisure time was examined. The most reliable and valid PA measurement tool for the chosen age group was the RT3 ® triaxial accelerometer. PA levels during PE lessons fell short of the recommended 50% (20 minute) criterion, with children accumulating 16.4 ± 2.3 minutes (44.9 ± 5.6%) of mean MVPA during lesson time. Seven day habitual activity monitoring revealed that time spent in MVPA on a PE day was significantly higher (P <0.05) than on a weekend day. This study also highlighted that on non PE days the lack of PE-related activity was not compensated by engagement in other activity. An investigation into the effects of a 12 week TGfU pedagogical strategy on MVPA and elements of Self Determination Theory during PE lessons revealed that boys assigned to the intervention displayed significantly higher (P <0.01) levels of MVPA, and significantly higher levels of autonomy (P < 0.05) post-intervention versus the control group. In addition, a non significant trend for an increase in habitual PA for boys assigned to the intervention lessons was revealed. No significant differences were displayed in the constructs of the TPB pre-post intervention and no significant benefits of TGfU were noted for girls. The reported increases in MVPA and levels of autonomy during PE lessons in boys using a TGfU approach are novel and promising. However it is suggested that future research incorporates such strategies in a health-promoting PE environment in addition to the traditional skills-based activities. This may have potential in enhancing MVPA during PE in girls and boys, and may promote greater transference to habitual physical activity levels. The potential for self determined environments positively impacting upon motivation and intentions to be physically active both during and outside of PE lessons warrants further exploration but over longer time periods.
    • A study of multicultural practices in Sri Lankan secondary schools and an English comparator school

      Wedikandage, Lanka Nilmini Priyadarshani (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014)
      This study investigated stakeholders’ views of multicultural policies and practices in multicultural secondary schools in Sri Lanka and a comparator school in England, in order to elicit what new insights could be gained that could lead to educational improvements in Sri Lankan schools. Specifically, students and staff in five Sinhala-medium secondary schools in the Colombo region, all with reputations for good multicultural education practice, together with local community leaders and national policy makers, were interviewed. A series of questionnaires was designed to examine a wide range of stakeholder perspectives across these five schools, using as a conceptual framework Banks’s (1986, 1989 and 2004) international work on multicultural policy and practice in schools and teacher education. A similar interview schedule and questionnaire were used to elicit views and experiences of multicultural education in a comparator school in an urban area of the East of England. There were a number of reasons for this. The modern school system of Sri Lanka had its beginnings during the British colonial administration. Now that there is peace in Sri Lanka after a long period of civil war, the government is focusing on ways to develop the curriculum to integrate multicultural education into its peace education curriculum in order to foster intercultural understandings. England has a longer tradition in multicultural education and policies in its education system. Using Banks’s work (op. cit.) for analysis, there may therefore be lessons to be drawn from the Sri Lankan schools identified as having good multicultural practice and the English experience that are of use in Sri Lanka. Major findings from this research project include the need for careful consideration of ways to foster greater multilingual competence among both teachers and students if Sri Lanka is to reach its goal of greater intercultural understandings and communication between the various ethnic groups. It seems from this study that, in Sri Lanka, whilst there were some differences in the strength of perception of different ethnic groups of students, overall they felt comfortable and safe in school, which is a testament to government efforts to achieve harmony in schools and, thus, social cohesion in society. However, some groups of students are more advantaged than others in the same schools in their access to the acquisition of languages and, therefore, access to the curriculum and to further and higher education and future enhanced life chances. The teachers acknowledged that language was a major concern in multicultural classrooms, partly because some students could not communicate effectively in Sinhala medium, and partly because they themselves were not always fluent in both national languages. Further, despite central government policy that all secondary teachers in Sri Lanka should be trained to degree level and should be qualified in their profession, the highest qualification that nearly one half possessed was A-level General Certificate of Education. All teachers in both Sri Lankan, and the English comparator, schools expressed a wish for training in multicultural practices.
    • What is the point of homework and should schools set it?

      Edwards, Wendy (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2017-04)
      The research on homework since the 19th century in the United Kingdom (UK) shows that there are considerable issues to be addressed in this area. Governments have discussed it and the media have reported on it and it is still a contentious issue for schools and homes alike. This study shows that there has been very little change in the issues surrounding homework for over a hundred years and that no political party in office will take a stand on it. Even though schools would like to see a change in policy it is not on the government agenda. The study worked with six secondary schools in one town over a fixed time period to collect information to discuss some of those questions being asked around the issues related to homework. The literature review looked at documents dating back to 1880 when similar questions were being asked about the relevance of "keeping in" and in 1881 "home lessons" was a newspaper article. A teacher training manual in 1885 contained a chapter on home lessons and those advantages and disadvantages described in the book are very similar to the advantages and disadvantages described in 2004. Hansard recorded discussions in parliament from 1884 about the overpressure put on pupils. Home conditions and the support given by parents in completing homework have been discussed both in the media and in parliament. Comparisons are made between homework in the UK and other similar countries using internationally collected data. The mixed method research included questioning students, families, teachers and governors. Interviews were conducted with senior teachers at the schools, with responsibility for implementing the homework policy. School documents were scrutinised including the home-school agreement, homework policies and homework guidelines for students, families and teachers. The findings of this study showed that there are differences between the main stakeholders, students, families, teachers and governors, in the knowledge, views and opinions of homework. Students, families, teachers and governors differed in their opinions, with many students and families, although seeing some benefits, opposing the setting of homework due to the impact on family time and the stress caused by it. While teachers and governors supported the setting of homework and the important contribution it made in school. There are differences between different types of schools and those with lower and higher ability students and the influence that homework has on the stress levels of those students in higher performing schools. Homework is seen as a marketing tool for some schools to use in selling themselves on the competing educational market place. The findings of this study continue to ask the questions related to homework and in particular What is the purpose of homework?, What type of homework is seen as most effective in supporting students' learning in the various areas of the curriculum?, Does the home environment always support students completing homework and what kind of resources do students need to complete homework and do they have access to these resources at home? and What political, economic, social and educational factors (Hallam, 2004) are important in understanding the context in which homework policies and practices are developed?