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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Improving the Effectiveness of Pupil Groups in Classrooms

Grant reference: L139251046

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Journal article details

TLRP: Academic achievement, pupil participation and integration of group work skills in secondary school classrooms in Trinidad and Barbados
Studies have shown a positive relationship between a rise in schooling levels and economic production [World Bank, 2005. A Time to Choose: Caribbean Development in the 21st Century. World Bank, Washington, DC; Jules, V., Panneflek, A., 2000. EFA in the Caribbean: Assessment 2000, Sub-Regional Report, vol. 2, The State of Education in the Caribbean in the 1990s. UNESCO, Kingston, Jamaica; Haddad, W.D., 1990. Education and Development; Evidence for New Priorities. World Bank Discussion Paper 95. The World Bank, Washington, DC; McClelland, D., 1969. Does Education Accelerate Economic Growth. In: Eckstein, M.A., Noah, H.J. (Eds.), Scientific Investigations in Comparative Education. Macmillan, London], but this link may be limited in systems of education where traditional pedagogic methods have been dominant (such as the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Barbados where underachievement is also associated with lack of participation and low levels of social inclusion skills by teachers: World Bank, 1992. Access, Quality and Efficiency in Caribbean Education: a Regional Study. World Bank, Washington, DC; Kutnick, P., Jules, V., Layne, A., 1997. Gender and School Achievement in the Caribbean. Department for International Development, London). Into traditional classroom contexts in Trinidad and Barbados, a new social pedagogic method was introduced by teachers and changes in attainment and motivation of pupils and attitudes of teachers were assessed over two terms in secondary schools. Social Studies teachers participated in this action research study. They co-developed and applied a relationally based group work training programme and were provided supportive visits by a research officer between December and June of a school year. Data were collected from nearly 300 pupils in January and July, including: end-of-term, school-based attainment scores in social studies; a teacher-completed questionnaire for each child in class concerning pupil classroom performance (perceptions of knowledge, interactions with teacher and peers); and a pupil-completed questionnaire concerning attitudes to interpersonal contexts for classroom learning. In addition, reflective interviews were undertaken with pupils and teachers at the end of the programme. Over the period studied, virtually all pupils improved their social studies attainment; especially the lowest achieving pupils. Pupils improved their attitudes towards working with others and expectations of achievement in schools. Teachers’ understanding of a ‘good pupil’ also changed—recognising of the importance of social inclusion at the classroom level and relational/groupworking skills among pupils. Overcoming educational underachievement and enhancing economic production is not simply a matter of access to schools; especially where traditional pedagogic methods appear as the norm in schooling. Greater attention needs to be given to helping teachers acquire (and use) additional socially inclusive/relational approaches.
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Author A Layne

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