OUDE and School Collaborations

Developing Teacher-Student Talk in the Secondary Mathematics Classroom (2015-2017)

Led by

  • Dr Jenni Ingram (Department of Education)
  • Dr Nick Andrews (Department of Education)

Funded by

  • University of Oxford, John Fell Fund

This collaborative project works with mathematics departments to develop the quality and quantity of their students’ mathematical talk in lessons. The two schools involved in the research aspire to develop students’ literacy, with a particular focus on speaking and listening. Building on extensive research into classroom talk and interaction, they are exploring strategies used by teachers to develop their students’ talk for both practicality and efficiency.

The findings and the implications for practice will be shared through the development of professional development materials and through workshops for members of the Deanery.
 

Assessment, Teaching and Learning in MFL: investigating and developing practice at Key Stage 3 (2015-2016)

Led by

  • Dr Robert Woore (Department of Education)
  • Trevor Mutton (Department of Education)

With

  • Laura Molway, Ernesto Macaro, and Clare Savory (Department of Education)

Funded by

  • University of Oxford, John Fell Fund

Background
The assessment framework for Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) at Key Stage 3 prescribed by the previous National Curriculum became deeply embedded in schools’ practice, yet was widely criticized for the questionable model of progression it enshrined. This arguably resulted in a powerful negative washback effect on classroom teaching, promoting pedagogical approaches which were inconsistent with – or indeed ran counter to – evidence from research into Second Language Acquisition. In turn, these pedagogical approaches may have contributed to the widely-reported problems of low student motivation, low uptake and poor outcomes in MFL nationally.

Responding to these issues, a consortium of local researchers and teachers developed an alternative ‘Pedagogical Assessment Framework’ (PAF) as part of a wider knowledge exchange project, funded by the ESRC. A key aim of the new framework was to facilitate more research-informed approaches to MFL teaching. The PAF is innovative in assessing both students’ overall proficiency in each skill (e.g. reading) and the knowledge, sub-skills and behaviours which underpin it (e.g. vocabulary knowledge, strategic behaviour), with the latter strand of assessment providing a basis for formative feedback to students.

Subsequently, the lack of any prescribed assessment framework within the new National Curriculum (launched 2013) has led to a diversification of practice in schools, with some continuing to use the old National Curriculum framework whilst others use modified versions of it or alternative frameworks. This poses problems in terms of both (a) understanding and benchmarking MFL students’ progress nationally and (b) the professional learning of beginning teachers, who may develop expertise in school-specific assessment frameworks with limited transferability to other contexts. Discussions with MFL mentors working within the OUDE partnership indicated that there was widespread concern and dissatisfaction over the assessment practices in use in their schools.

The project
Addressing some of these issues, we are conducting a project in which student teachers in MFL, working collaboratively with university tutors and school-based mentors, are piloting the PAF in two skill areas (reading and speaking) in a range of partnership schools. The project thus exemplifies how Initial Teacher Education partnerships between schools and universities can be extended beyond their original focus on the professional learning of beginning teachers, to encompass the development of pedagogy and the advancement of research.

Data is being gathered from a range of sources, including students’ assessment outcomes, samples of their work, observations of student teachers’ lessons and interviews with mentors and interns. We are interested in exploring how the PAF is used in practice, what teachers and interns think of the framework, and what (if any) the washback effects are on their everyday teaching. In a second strand of the study, we are investigating interns’ and mentors’ experiences of the project itself, focussing in particular on what they perceive to be the benefits and drawbacks of their involvement and what facilitators and barriers they encountered to using the PAF. Finally, we are also seeking to obtain an overview of assessment practise in MFL across the partnership.

We hope that our findings will inform our work on assessment within the PGCE course, but also that they will be useful to schools at this time of considerable change in their assessment practices. We intend to stimulate debate about the purposes and nature of assessment in MFL, and the effects of assessment on classroom pedagogy

 

Analysing the Relationship between Teachers’ Collaboration Patterns, Teaching Practices and Student Literacy Learning and Engagement (2015-2016)

Led by

  • Professor Harry Daniels (Department of Education)
  • Professor Mary Daly (Department of Social Policy and Intervention)

Funded by

  • University of Oxford, John Fell Fund

This project, which builds on an earlier analysis of the ways in which, and the extent to which, teachers in local schools collaborate with one another to develop their practice in support of vulnerable students, is now looking at the impact of that collaboration on their students’ levels of engagement and the development of their literacy.  They are trying to find out what difference that collaboration actually makes to the teachers’ practice and to the engagement and attainment of their students particularly those at risk of not achieving their potential.  They are also interested in exploring the impact of gender – both on the teachers’ collaboration and on the students’ engagement/outcomes.

The research involves detailed case studies in a small number of schools (that participated in the original study of teachers’ collaborative practice). The findings and their implications for practice will be shared in workshops for members of the Deanery.  In school, KE workshops will be offered to the Deanery group of schools and to School partners beyond the reach of the existing Deanery.

 

Collaboration for effective teaching and learning (2014-2015)

Led by

  • Professor Harry Daniels (Department of Education)
  • Dr Ian Thompson (Department of Education)

With

  • Lorena Ortega Ferrand, Sarah Cox, and Nicole Dingwall (Department of Education)

Funded by

  • University of Oxford, John Fell Fund

On Tuesday 19th January 2016, Harry Daniels and Ian Thompson presented the findings of their research project on ‘collaboration for effective teaching and learning’ to Research Champions and Headteachers from participating schools. The research question for this project focused on the effect that the culture of the school has on teacher collaboration and on the attainment of vulnerable leaners (children at risk of not achieving). The presentation from this meeting can be accessed here: Collaboration ppt.

The collection of the data for this research project was facilitated by the Oxford Education Deanery Research Champions. Data was collected using online questionnaire and interviews to look at connections between teachers; both who sought advice from colleagues and who helped colleagues regarding vulnerable learners (a process of network analysis).

The principal findings of the research project are summarised below:

  • Schools with networks that extend beyond departmental boundaries are more effective in supporting vulnerable learners’ attainment and wellbeing.
  • School culture has a significant effect on patterns of collaboration.
  • Some teachers in schools, other than the SENCO, have high degree of centrality developed through the professional learning communities that operate within the school.

The implications of the research findings were discussed with Research Champions and Headteachers, and a number of useful resources were offered to benefit participating schools which are detailed below:

  1. The idea of ‘Teacher support teams’ which is described in detail in the book entitled ‘Teacher Support Teams in Primary and Secondary Schools’. Teacher support teams are school-based, problem-solving groups that cross department boundaries which function to support pupils indirectly through teacher collaboration. The principle behind these support teams is to make the most of the knowledge and skills of teachers already in a school.
  2. Moving forward, the research project will be observing the effect of collaboration on teacher practice using a number of observation schedules. Schools may find some of these useful in analysing teachers practice in support of vulnerable learners. Resources can be found on the presentation from the meeting Collaboration ppt and on Pam Sammons web page.

A follow on research project is currently underway analysing the relationship between teachers’ collaboration patterns, their teaching practices and student literacy, learning and engagement.

 

Developing appropriate assessments of English language fluency for children with English as an Additional Language (EAL) (2015-2016)

Led by   

  • Professor Victoria Murphy (Department of Education)
  • in conjunction with Professor Kate Nation (Department of Experimental Psychology)

Funded by 

  • University of Oxford, John Fell Fund

While ‘English fluency’ (a general term used to denote English language skills) is known to be a strong predictor of academic success in EAL pupils, there are currently no appropriate measures  that teachers can use to  assess EAL children’s English fluency. Lack of detailed information of this kind is particularly problematic when children transfer between schools.  The aims of this project are first to develop a reliable assessment tool that teachers can use to evaluate children’s English fluency in Year 6 EAL and then to collaborate with Year 7 teachers to identify ways of using this tool most effectively to support the students’ transition from primary to secondary school.

This research will be conducted within local school partnerships, working with the feeder primary schools of a particular secondary school in order to focus on the value of the tool and how it may be used to support transition. The work exploring how Year 7 teachers can use the assessment tool to tailor their teaching most effectively will involve the science teachers in the secondary school.

 

Raising and Sustaining Aspiration in City Schools (2012-2013)

Led by

  • Professor Anne Edwards (Department of Education)
  • with Patrick Alexander, Dr Nigel Fancourt, Professor Ian Menter

The project explored how Year 9 students at four Oxford city secondary schools thought about university. A major focus was how Higher Education featured in their projected learning trajectories and expectations for their futures, at the point when they were selecting school subjects for further study.

The findings are organised according to the sources of understanding from which students derive ideas about university and create images of their future selves – from their school experiences; from family influences; and from wider cultural representations.

This report examines how young people in Year 9 anticipate and plan for their futures and reveals a high degree of mystification about routes to higher education.

Raising and Sustaining Aspiration in City Schools

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