Overcoming Barriers to Student Learning
An investigation into an optimum learning environment.
HOW THE RESEARCH WAS CARRIED OUT
An action research cycle: 3 months of detailed case study exploration of barriers to student learning were followed by 6 months of continuous action research development of our practices.
Methods included: video clips, reflective diaries, simple, short questionnaires, notes from interactions with students, student work, and feedback from students. These were all taken to regular meetings for further discussion with our OUDE critical friend.
Final validity testing was a meeting with our headteacher and our OUDE critical friend
FINDINGS – IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHERS
Students’ ‘language of learning’ changed – increasing numbers of student questions were asked regarding how to improve the quality and quantity of their work
Calmer, more purposeful classroom working environments developed
There was a decrease in off-task behaviour in the latter stages of projects and students resolved disputes in a more positive way
Some affective barriers to learning were diminished or removed completely and there was increased resilience as students displayed less defensive attitudes when learning tasks stalled or failed
Student accountability increased – both student-teacher and student-student
IMPORTANT TO NOTE
The project created significant changes to ‘teaching-mindset’ with two principal outcomes:
- Interventions became more focused, structured and curriculum-content linked, whilst allowing opportunities for the co-creation of SRL environments
- More time was released in lessons for student-determined activity
This necessitated a shift from strong content-related lessons to content knowledge being extended within the co-learning mid-section of the lessons where students’ and teachers’ work could be differentiated by outcome, need, task, and formative assessment.
Jan Avery Harris in collaboration with Kate Thirlwall, Cherwell School
Action Research Fellows (Jan Avery Harris is also the Research Champion for Cherwell School and Kate Thirwall is a Part 3 student of the Enhanced MLT)