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July 31, 2023
My reflections on being interviewed for Asst. Professor as an internal candidate
This blog discusses my personal reflections on the experience of interviewing for an Assistant Professor role which I recently applied for following a fixed term contract in a teaching capacity here at Warwick. I thought being an internal candidate would offer a unique advantage. I am well positioned and capable of showing my best side in an interview but despite my teaching accolades and accreditation which made me an eligible candidate for interview, I felt uncomfortable and partially disappointed with my performance. I know I could have done better. Therefore, I thought to pen this experience which might prepare fellow colleagues for any such future endeavours.
Pros: Being an internal candidate for the Assistant Professor interview at the University has its fair share of advantages. On the plus side, I was already familiar with the institution's culture, values, and expectations. This familiarity gave me a unique advantage to prepare myself for questions such as – 'Why would you like to work here?' To answer this, I leveraged my existing knowledge about school initiatives, academic programmes, teaching and research goals, and project synergies. This allowed me to seamlessly integrate my own knowledge and experience into the existing framework and to contribute to the institution's academic mission. Also, all the examples I shared in the interview, whether it was module feedback from students or course related statistics were already known by some of the faculty members present in the panel, and perhaps gave me the confidence to bring across the point I’m making in the interview.
Cons: Being an internal candidate also presents bigger challenges, which I never expected or rather got perplexed about when I faced them. One significant one is dealing with the confusion of knowing and not knowing the interview panel. I’ve given interviews in the past where the people sitting across the table are completely unknown to me thereby giving me an opportunity to showcase my greatest version, articulating skills and knowledge that I possess in the best possible way to win the job. In contrast, the interview panel I faced here had some people from senior faculty whom I was already working with for the last couple of years. Therefore, there was a tendency to resist sharing information which they might already know. I was repeatedly asking myself - am I doing too much in already telling them what some of them know? Simultaneously, my mind tells me that this interview should be treated in isolation to the positive performance I have evidenced through my work here in the University. I was constantly dealing with this confusion in my head during the interview process and as a result I didn’t share that I’m in possession of FHEA, or a WIHEA fellow, which are all very relevant points for the interview. These should have come across despite being present as information in my CV and application letter and I should have steered the answer to some of the academic questions in a manner that links my qualifications and accreditations to reveal that I’m a good fit for the job advertised.
I think, when it comes to interviews, it is important to approach the interview panel as unknown individuals, just like any other interview. Although it may be difficult, this mindset is crucial for one’s performance during the interviews. Since they are unaware of your capabilities, it is essential to have a prepared action plan to address any confusion that may arise in your mind during the interview. By doing so, you can excel in your performance regardless of whether the panel is familiar or unknown to you. Last, but not least it is also vital to be ready with the set of questions you can ask the panel (even though you are aware of the initiative your institution is taking). Perhaps, these could be related to the higher education sector as a whole and not just your own institution.
June 19, 2023
Reflection on Project Outputs by Molly Fowler
This WIHEA funded co-creation project aimed to capture and explore student and staff perspectives on diverse assessment. Neither group were clearly able to define a diverse assessment strategy, but interestingly their feelings about assessment and ideas of how they can be improved were very similar. Students expressed a desire for greater choice, flexibility and equitable access to assessments. Equitable access encompasses a wide range of complex personal needs including language requirements, disability, neurodiversity, caring responsibilities, and the need to work alongside studies. Staff iterated many of the same concepts but framed their ideas around pedagogical models. There was a strong emphasis on learning from assessments on both sides and a widespread longing for a culture shift to design assessments that model a fair and fulfilling education. Student co-creation was seen as a necessary tool to expedite the shift towards embedding assessments as part of the learning journey.
I am a final year student on the Health and Medical Sciences BSc programme. My role as a student cocreator in this research project was to collect and analyse data from students and staff pertaining to their beliefs around assessment. In the analysis stage of the project, I mainly focused on collating and summarising the student data. I am new to conducting primary research and I have thoroughly appreciated this experience. I enjoyed the challenge of leading interviews and focus groups and deciding when to explore a statement further or manoeuvre back to the set questions. Gaining first-hand insight into the research process has augmented my ability to understand and extract key information from research papers which will be a life-long skill – and was particularly useful when I was conducting a systematic review for my dissertation. It has been very satisfying to observe my own personal development in this way.
This project has made me aware of my privilege in assessments as a neurotypical English speaker. I have been exposed to a range of different perspectives on assessment and I hope to be better equipped to identify problems and support those around me. For example, I was surprised to learn that international students feel more disadvantaged by multiple choice exams than essays, as MCQs often require a nuanced understanding of language and grammar. Similarly, I have always taken a pragmatic approach to assessments and centred my learning around them. I had not previously considered assessments as part of the learning journey or as a learning exercise. As I move into the next phase of my own education, I will try to extend my learning beyond assessments to gain knowledge that I can use in my profession. Undertaking this project has been an enriching experience as a student and as an individual. It has shaped my approach to my assessments, and I have become more aware of the complex needs of others who are completing the same assessment. Students and staff are calling for the same changes to assessment methodology, which can only be implemented if the University takes a holistic approach to restructuring assessments with students contributing to the process.
I look forward to bringing my knowledge from this assignment into my next research project. This is the 13th blog in our diverse assessment series. Previous blogs can be found here:
Blog 1: Launch of the learning circle (Isabel Fischer & Leda Mirbahai): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/interested_in_diverse/
Blog 2: Creative projects and the ‘state of play’ in diverse assessments (Lewis Beer): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/creative_projects_and/
Blog 3: Student experience of assessments (Molly Fowler): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/a_student_perspective/
Blog 4: Assessment Strategy – one year after starting the learning circle (Isabel Fischer & Leda Mirbahai): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/one_year_on/
Blog 5: Learnings and suggestions based on implementing diverse assessments in the foundation year at Warwick (Lucy Ryland): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/learnings_suggestions_based/
Blog 6: How inclusive is your assessment strategy? (Leda Mirbahai): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/blog_6_how/
Blog 7: Democratising the feedback process (Linda Enow): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/democratising_the_feedback/
Blog 8: AI for Good: Evaluating and Shaping Opportunities of AI in Education (Isabel Fischer, Leda Mirbahai & David Buxton): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/ai_for_good/
Blog 9: On ‘Opportunities of AI in Higher Education’ by DALL.E and ChatGPT (Isabel Fischer): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/on_opportunities_of/
Blog 10: Pedagogic paradigm 4.0: bringing students, educators and AI together (Isabel Fischer): https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/pedagogic-paradigm-40-bringing-students-educators-and-ai-together
Blog 11: Ethically deploying AI in education: An update from the University of Warwick’s open community of practice (Isabel Fischer, Leda Mirbahai, Lewis Beer, David Buxton, Sam Grierson, Lee Griffin, and Neha Gupta): https://www.open.ac.uk/scholarship-and-innovation/scilab/ethically-deploying-ai-education
Blog 12: Building knowledge on the pedagogy of using generative AI in the classroom and in assessments (Isabel Fischer and Matt Lucas): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/building_knowledge_on/
Join the Diverse Assessment Learning Circle: If you would like to join the learning circle please contact the co-leads: Leda Mirbahai, Warwick Medical School (WMS) (Leda.Mirbahai@warwick.ac.uk) and Isabel Fischer, Warwick Business School (WBS) (Isabel.Fischer@wbs.ac.uk). This LC is open to non-WIHEA members.
May 15, 2023
My initial perception of “adaptive teaching” was that it was synonymous to differentiation—a term which is still used in teaching publications (DfE, 2021, T.S.5, p.11) and which the Times Educational Supplement used, to describe the practice of “putting the student first” (Amass, 2021). As the two terms are often used interchangeably, I began my practice unsure about which approach I was truly implementing. A broad understanding of both terms dictates that differentiation involves assigning certain needs to students while planning, assuming an objective can only be met a certain way. Adaptive teaching involves adjusting to address progress by providing scaffolding or challenge to support achievement of a unified objective in a flexible way (Deunk et al., 2018, p.31-54). After focused conversations with my placement colleagues, I was intrigued by the general consensus that the main difference between the two concepts in practice centres around the teacher’s understanding of “high expectations”.
I struggled with this concept originally, as my understanding lacked practical depth. During English writing objectives, I was expected to scribe for certain children after probing them to articulate themselves. I found this problematic, as it assumed that these children could express themselves orally and only struggled with writing. I understood that this was a genuine effort to avoid differentiating by task and communicating to the children that they were capable of completing the same task. In reality, the children were not expressing any ideas, and this resulted in them copying a board. Upon questioning them, I discovered that they still perceived their task as different, because they were not doing it independently.
Discussing this with my teacher, we ascertained that high expectations could be more effectively communicated by expecting all children to work independently and regularly changing support groups (CCF, 5.20). Although it seems like the same few pupils require constant small group support, I now realise that adaptive teaching is an approach meant to broaden our understanding of how to provide support. When the children were given a word mat that indicated meaning with symbols, they were able to start expressing their understanding independently, with little guidance. While other children did not have this support, all children were working independently and were given equal attention. I observed the positive psychological impact on students who felt that we were raising prior expectations.
As Coe et al. (2020, p.6) highlight, feelings of competence and autonomy are pivotal in promoting “learner motivation”. Additionally, they point out that “progressing…from structured to more independent learning” aids pupils to activate “hard thinking”. Adaptive teaching has the potential to lift children from the cycle of constantly requiring support to superficially meet an outcome that will not progress their understanding and will only lead to them requiring more support in future.
Although I do regret not taking initiative sooner, as I will not be able to observe long-term outcome improvement, my developed understanding of high expectations and adaptive teaching will have strong implications in my next placement, as I have grown my confidence and resourcefulness in supporting children appropriately. This is a point in my teaching where the WTV of creativity will greatly support development. By finding creative ways to scaffold learning, it is possible to communicate high expectations and creating a supportive learning environment.
Amass, H. (2021) “Differentiation: the dos and don’ts,” Tes Global Ltd, 16 April.
Coe, R. et al. (2020) Great teaching toolkit: Evidence Review, Great Teaching Toolkit. Cambridge Assessment International Education. Available at: https://assets.website-files.com/5ee28729f7b4a5fa99bef2b3/5ee9f507021911ae35ac6c4d_EBE_GTT_EVIDENCE%20REVIEW_DIGITAL.pdf?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.greatteaching.com%2F (Accessed: April 14, 2023).
DfE (2019) ITT Core Content Framework available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/initial-teacher-training-itt-core-content-framework
Department for Education (2011) Teachers' Standards. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teachers-standards
Deunk, M., Smale-Jacobse, A., de Boer, H., Doolaard, S. and Bosker, R. (2018) 'Effective differentiation Practices:A systematic review and metaanalysis of studies on the cognitive effects of differentiation practices in primary education.' Educational Research Review (24) pp.31-54.
May 09, 2023
My understanding of the principles of effective planning has developed because at the start of my placement I was extremely naïve as didn’t think planning would be hard. I assumed I could write a few notes on the lesson plan and the pupils would have a deep understanding of the learning. I believed because my classroom teacher didn’t have formal plans that I could do the same. I found that effective planning is a difficult skill and for a lesson to have purpose it must have certain aspects. Ashcraft (2014) made clear that to be an effective teacher you must have effective lesson plans. For example, my first lesson plan lacked substance and I found myself getting stressed when teaching. The stress from a lack of detailed planning didn’t make me an effective teacher as I started to panic that the learning wasn’t clear. However, it has been argued that detailed daily lesson planning is a ‘box-ticking’ activity and adds to the teacher’s workload (Teacher Workload Review Group, 2016). Yet, I would argue that this is regarding experienced teachers.
My planning has been a journey. At the beginning of the placement, I put more emphasis on the activity than the learning. This became evident at the end of the lesson when I asked the class questions about the learning, and they couldn’t answer. I swiftly changed this and put more effort in making sure my lesson objective was clear to the class and that the activities reflected the lesson objectives.
I was very fortunate to have a supportive class teacher who encouraged me to take risks when teaching. Hattie (2012) argues that the most effective planning is when teachers support each other and discuss what is the most important to teach and the impact of their teaching on their pupils. In our shared PPA time the class teacher would suggest ways that I could adapt my teaching for all needs in the class. However, I am aware that this might not be the case at every placement. For example, Mutton et al (2011) mentions that it can be a struggle for student teachers to teach other teachers classes. Yet, in the future, I would like to work with my class teacher or mentor to plan low threshold, high ceiling planning so all needs are met.
Throughout my placement I struggled with my workload as mentioned previously I quickly understood the need to plan thought provoking lessons where all pupils learning flourished. I was encouraged to use the schemes that the school subscribed to and the class teacher’s previous resources. I found that the schemes were extremely helpful, but I had to use them as a guide because they were generic and I had to fit them to my class due to the different needs of the pupils. However, I did find some pressure to use the class teacher’s resources in certain lessons. In the future, I want to be confident enough to use my own creativity to make the resources and use the class teacher’s as a guide like I did with the scheme.
Ashcraft, N. (2014) Lesson Planning. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press.
Hattie J (2012) Visible Learning for Teachers, Maximising Impact on Learning. Routledge, pages 67-74.
Mutton, T., Hagger, H. and Burn, K. (2011) “Learning to plan, planning to learn: The developing expertise of beginning teachers,” Teachers and Teaching, 17(4), pp. 399–416. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2011.580516.
Teacher Workload Review Group (2016) Eliminating unnecessary workload around planning and teaching resources Report of the Independent. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/511257/Eliminating-unnecessary-workload-around-planning-and-teaching-resources.pdf (Accessed: 20 December 2022).
April 24, 2023
by Robert Smith
During my five years of working in schools, I have seen national changes to the way in which teachers are expected to support pupils with additional needs. The geography department in my first school was praised for its extensive use of differentiated artefacts, such as simplified worksheets, and learning objectives: ‘all, most, some’. While some elements of this approach are certainly beneficial to the learning of those with additional needs, the national focus has shifted to one that applies high expectations to all groups (Department of Education, 2019). It is worth noting that while the Early Career Framework has stopped using the word ‘differentiation’ altogether (Department of Education, 2019), differentiated support to help all learners reach the same goal provides those who need support the help to achieve (Mould, 2021) and aligns with the new term ‘adaptive teaching’.
In my first placement of this course, two of the classes I taught were a top set year 8 and a bottom set year 7. I was surprised by the variation of ability in both classes. From my reading for my Subject Studies essay, I have recently learned about the detrimental effects of an internalised understanding of the class hierarchy, especially for those who recognise that they rank towards the bottom in comparison to their peers. I think the delivery of extension, or challenge, work is one area in which the teacher can reduce the conspicuousness of the hierarchy: ensuring extension work is clearly signposted for everyone may result in those moving onto the extension task being less noticeable and also intimates that everyone in the class is capable of reaching the extension task; I plan to incorporate this into my future teaching.
In order for all pupils to meet high expectations, it is necessary for those with needs to be given support in the most effective way. Considering work-load and effectiveness, Mould (2021) suggests teachers should provide focussed support rather than devoting time to creating myriad resources; during my first placement, I was introduced to many helpful resource websites that can prevent teachers reinventing the wheel. The focussed support Mould discusses is holistic, considering ‘pupils’ physical, social, and emotional well-being,’ including their relationships with peers, teachers and their families. Mould recommends regular communication between the individual, the school and the parents/guardians in order that everyone understands the barriers to learning and develop strategies to overcome them together. Alongside my mentor I spoke to parents at my first parents’ evening, and the benefits of building a relationship with parents was clear: the parents of one pupil, who is struggling with bullying, talked to us about their desire to have an open conversation with the school in order to support their child.
With the support of my mentor and expert colleagues, I believe I supported students well in my first placement, though this may be in part because I did not teach any classes with high levels of need. Moving forward, I would like to develop a practice of planning for adaptive teaching that supports all pupils without increasing the amount of time I spend on my lesson plans. As my understanding of the curriculum and the abilities of specific groups grows, I would like to better connect new knowledge to existing knowledge and recognise areas that require additional pre-teaching.
Department of Education (2019) Early Career Framework (online). Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/978358/Early-Career_Framework_April_2021.pdf [accessed 13.1.23].
Mould, K. (2021) EEF Blog: Assess, adjust, adapt – what does adaptive teaching mean to you? (online). Available at: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/news/eef-blog-assess-adjustadapt-what-does-adaptive-teaching-mean-to-you/ [accessed 13.1.23].
April 17, 2023
by Robert Smith
Developing a safe and predictable environment can have an enormous impact for both pupils generally and for a specific identified pupil. Bohn, Roehrig, and Pressley (2004) found that effective teachers introduce and maintain routines at the beginning of their relationship with each group. Doing so enables pupils to predict events throughout the lesson, helping them to feel safe. This feeling of security results in higher engagement and less problem behaviour. While this supports the behaviour and learning of all pupils, it can be particularly beneficial to individuals with higher needs; for example, though all pupils benefit when alerted of upcoming change, this predictability is especially supportive for individuals who are distressed by unexpected change (Kern and Clemens, 2007).
Similar to the early introduction of routines, the immediate establishment of rules impacts how safe a pupil feels in the classroom. Kern and Clemens (2007) advise that there be no more than five rules to aid memorisation, that each one be positively worded, and that they be displayed prominently in the classroom, to serve as both a reminder to pupils and as supporting artefacts for the teacher when reinforcing the rules. They suggest that engaging the students in the creation of the class rules is beneficial because it gives the pupils a sense of involvement, that the teacher cares about what they think, and it gives pupils choice; providing opportunities for choice is listed by Kern and Clemens (2007) as important at both class-wide and individual levels.
Kern and Clemens (2007) collated literature to consider the benefits of antecedent interventions and concluded that the implementation of such strategies can create a structured learning environment beneficial to most pupils. They divide antecedent strategies into two groups: class-wide and individual. They recommend that before class-wide strategies are considered school-wide ones need to be implemented, but these do not fall under the scope of their research. This improves the behaviour of pupils, which then makes responses to class-wide interventions more successful. Once class-wide strategies are implemented, teachers can implement individualised interventions to support pupils who have not adequately responded to general strategies. These individual interventions can only be successful if they are tailored to the needs of the specific pupil and environment, and so the teacher needs to have a solid understanding of what those needs are.
I am particularly interested in Kern and Clemens’ suggestion to involve students in rule making, creating as it does an element of accountability. I will incorporate this into my practice when I have the opportunity. Despite the mostly sequential nature of maths, I can also see plenty of opportunities for letting classes choose how to approach learning (visual scaffolding, bullet-pointed steps, etc.) as well as larger decisions, such as the order they learn non-sequential topics.
Typically, maths is taught using large amounts of repetitive questions that all practise the same new skill, yet this also increases the likelihood of problem behaviour (Kern and Clemens, 2007). I was interested to read about the benefits of incorporating simple, loosely related questions into the current work, and that pupils preferred this type of work despite there being more questions to answer (Kern and Clemens, 2007). These simpler questions could be used effectively as a form of retrieval practice, further benefiting the learning.
Bohn, C.M., Roehrig, A.D., and Pressley, M. (2004) 'The first days of school in the classrooms of two more effective and four less effective primary-grades teachers.' Elementary School Journal, 104, pp. 269–287. https://doi.org/10.1086/499753
Kern, L. and Clemens, N.H. (2007) 'Antecedent strategies to promote appropriate classroom behaviour.' Psychol. Schs., 44, pp. 65-75. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.20206
November 14, 2022
Isabel Fischer (WBS) and Leda Mirbahai (WMS)
One year ago we created an open WIHEA Learning Circle on Diverse Assessments. Since we seem to be building a reputation as the ‘godparents of assessments’. In addition to contributing to diversifying assessment strategies across Warwick we aim to work towards providing equity in our assessment practices and to improve student experience. Assessments, if used effectively, are key to promoting learning for our students.
To encourage reflection and to drive change in how we use and view assessments in our programmes, we hosted a series of keynote speeches to start our regular meetings. Here one example from Kerry Dobbins, Academic Development Centre, on How to create an effective assessment strategy (drilling down – or up – from institutional, via course, to module level)
My aim for this presentation was to highlight the conflation that often occurs between assessment ‘strategies’ and assessment ‘methods’. The term ‘strategy’ is often used when we are actually referring to the mode of assessment, e.g. ‘our assessment strategy is coursework or an online exam’. It is important to disentangle these terms so that we can take an explicitly strategic approach to designing assessments that supports inclusion at all levels, i.e., module, course/programme and institution. An assessment strategy develops a shared and holistic view of the course/programme between students and academics. At a macro level, there needs to be constructive alignment between module learning outcomes (LOs), course/programme LOs and graduate attributes. In this way, a programme level view is taken to what LOs are being assessed across modules and how. For diverse assessments this is extremely important because it ensures that a holistic view is taken in relation to how comfort with, skills for and literacy of different types of assessment methods are developed and scaffolded for students as the programme progresses. This strategic and holistic view also recognises the various transition points of the students’ journey; so first year assessments may start to introduce elements of doing things differently, that are built on in the second year, etc.
In essence then, a strategic approach is vital for inclusive assessment practices as it provides an explicit framework for developing assessment literacy skills and for assignment feedback to be clearly directed towards feeding forward into future assessment activities. Taking a strategic approach also provides greater opportunities for teams to develop a coherent view about the purposes and values of assessment; and how those shared values are threaded through the course or programme. Assessment is not value-free as we are always conveying value messages to students about what we assess and how. A programme strategy allows us to really consider our values and what we are trying to achieve with our assessment practices and processes overall.
Assessment strategy also occurs at the module level. Again, at this level the strategy is not the mode of assessment but how support to achieve within the assessment is structured into the module. For example, how is assessment and feedback literacy designed into the module curriculum? What does the pre and post-assessment support look like? What is the rationale for the mode of assessment being used? How is assessment (formative and summative) being used within the module to support learning, not just quantify it?
You might find the attached presentation and some of the texts below useful to review:
Boud and Associates (2010) Assessment 2020: Seven propositions for assessment reform in higher education
Brunton et al (2016) Designing and developing a programme-focused assessment strategy: a case study
Scholtz (2016) (PDF) The assessment strategy: An elusive curriculum structure (researchgate.net)
If you are interested in this area, I would welcome you to get in touch: Kerry.Dobbins@warwick.ac.uk
For our learning circle we have also managed to secure funding to undertake a research project to capture both student and staff views of diverse assessments. Although the project is still ongoing, our student project officers, Molly Fowler and Pula Prakash, have managed to gather valuable data with an aim to feed into institutional considerations around assessment strategies.
Finally, if you want to find out more about our Learning Circle you can visit our webpage and you can read our previous blogs here:
Blog 1: Launch of the learning circle: https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/interested_in_diverse/
Blog 2: Creative projects and the ‘state of play’ in diverse assessments: https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/creative_projects_and/
Blog 3: Student experience of assessments: https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/a_student_perspective/
If you would like to join this learning circle please contact the co-leads: Leda Mirbahai, Warwick Medical School (WMS) (Leda.Mirbahai@warwick.ac.uk) and Isabel Fischer, Warwick Business School (WBS) (Isabel.Fischer@wbs.ac.uk).
March 21, 2022
by Victoria Andrews
In July 2021, the Department for Education (DfE) published ‘The reading framework – Teaching the foundations of literacy’, this outlines the relationship between high reading standards and a child’s future academic achievement, wellbeing, and success in life (DfE, 2021). The reading and writing of standard English is central for pupils being able to access, and achieve, in the remainder of their academic curriculum. However, the National Literacy Trust report a significant gender gap regarding reading. Boys spend less time reading for enjoyment: in 2005, 46.1% of boys and 56.8% of girls read for enjoyment; by 2019 these percentages had grown slightly to 46.5% and 60.3% respectively (Clark, 2020). During the pandemic, reading for enjoyment widened from 2.3% at the beginning of 2020 to 11.5% during lockdown (Clark and Picton, 2020, p.2).
Geert Driessen’s 2011 study on ‘Gender Differences in Education’ voices a moral panic however, he questions whether the gender gap has widened in favour of girls or whether all pupils have progressed over the last few decades (Driessen, 2011). Charlotte Lichter demonstrates the historical pattern of the gender gap but has only recently been considered problematic, quoting John Locke’s concerns “for boys’ failure to master Latin and perfect written and oral English” in the eighteenth century (Lichter, 2007, p.7). While boys struggled to study classics, girls’ expressive oral skills were noted, Lichter contends that once girls gained access to education, and particularly language, it enabled them to outperform boys. (Lichter, 2007). Michele Cohen posits that boys’ underperformance was attributed to ‘a sign of his deep thinking and profound potential’ (Cohen, 1998, p.25). Indeed in 1923, the Board of Education detailed that boyishness was a habit of healthy idleness and this contentious idea of hegemonic masculinity is highlighted again in Hodgetts’ journal on ‘Underperformance or ‘Getting it right’?’ (Hodgetts, 2008). Hodgetts aligns with Lichter, writing that masculinity is not a new trend and analyses the constructions of gender in relation with boys’ achievement decline, in particular evaluating masculinity in reproducing the problem of boys’ underperformance, (Hodgetts, 2008). Reflecting on the historiography provided by Lichter, it is evident that the sociological constructions enabling boys’ underachievement in the English classroom, a place that is conceptualised as ‘feminine’, has ensured that the achievement gap remains.
Motivation is central for learning, however the way it is approached by girls and boys is different and thus, affects motivation. Intrinsic motivation explains behaviours driven by internal rewards rather than for gratification, regarding reading this is ‘reading for pleasure’ rather than for reward or recognition. Mark Roberts emphasises that girls have significantly higher intrinsic reading motivation thus, they can read without want of external reward or recognition (Roberts, 2022). Boys may lack intrinsic motivation for reading due to the perspective that reading is a feminine activity. Therefore, this reinforces the debate about the social construct of gender identity rather than simply biological make-up (Roberts, 2022, p.135). The consequence of boys’ low motivation for reading is severe, as the critical discussion points to an explicit relationship between frequency of reading and high achievement in English assessments (Department for Education, 2012).
There is a wider societal challenge of gender expectations which socialises young boys and girls from an early age which cannot be addressed within this essay nor in an immediate short-term plan due to the complexity of the issue. However, teachers can play a key role in positively supporting their students and creating a culture whereby reading is an inclusive activity. This will help to guide boys through the discourse of gender expectations and enable a more fluid idea of ‘masculinity’. In tackling the central cultural problem of identity through choosing more engaging and relevant texts for their students, teachers can become a force for good in helping to improve attainment and reduce boys’ anxiety about what it means to be masculine. There is not a singular reason which means that girls perform better in English assessments, it is rather that they do not face the same ostracization or peer pressure experienced by males and therefore are able to engage and attain to the best of their ability.
Clark, C. and Teravainen-Goff, A. (2020) Children and young people’s reading in 2019 Findings from our Annual Literacy Survey National Literacy Trust.
Clark, C. and Picton I. (2020) Children and young people’s reading in 2020 before and during the COVID-19 lockdown. National Literacy Trust.
Department for Education (2012). Research evidence on reading for pleasure Education standards research team. [online] Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/284286/reading_for_pleasure.pdf.
Department for Education (2021). The reading framework Teaching the foundations of literacy. [online] Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1000986/Reading_framework_Teaching_the_foundations_of_literacy_-_July-2021.pdf
Driessen, G. (2011). Gender differences in education: Is there really a “boys’ problem”. In Annual Meeting ECER, Berlin.
Hodgetts, K. (2008). Underperformance or “getting it right”? Constructions of gender and achievement in the Australian inquiry into boys’ education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29(5), pp.465–477.
LICHTER, C. (2007). Manners, Intellect, and Potential: A Historiography on the Underachievement of Boys in Literacy. Counterpoints, [online] 315, pp.3–15. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/42979122.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Ac51f400f7b7dbaf55d19debc8bf38059 [Accessed 9 Jan. 2022].
Roberts, M. (2022). The boy question: how to teach boys to succeed in school. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, Ny: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
February 22, 2022
Current Consumed Model Essay Extract
- @oisinloke for twitter
Research (Driver et al., 1994) has found that children in different countries develop similar ideas about natural phenomena which differ from those held by the scientific community. One such idea is that electric current is consumed when it passes through a lamp. This is known as the ‘current consumed model’ (see figure 1).
Figure 1: Popular models held by learners of physics
Figure 1: Popular models held by learners of physics, after Driver et al. (1994, pp.118-19) and Magnusson et al. (1997). The crossed circle indicates a lightbulb, where the ray lines have been added for an indication of relative brightness. The arrows indicate the electric current, where a smaller arrow indicates a smaller current. These models have been reported across different countries and ages of school students.
The current consumed model becomes more popular with student age. Of 46 sixth-form students, Shipstone (1984) found that about 40% held a current consumed model. Students have also been reported reverting to the current consumed model several months after adopting the scientific model. Joshua and Dupin (1987) reason that the model’s pervasiveness might be due to the common knowledge that batteries run out, and therefore it is counter intuitive that current should remain constant. The model may also arise because of the tendency to engage in sequential reasoning, whereby the current travels around the circuit and is subjected to a number of influences in turn (Shipstone, 1988).
Evidence points to this conception existing in modern classrooms. Students have demonstrated this conception in a relatively recent exam by an English exam board, which found that just over half of students conserved current (AQA, 2013a). The number of candidates entered into courses that took this exam was 214,091 (AQA, 2013b). Moreover, it can be argued that because this conception has been found across different countries and age groups (Driver et al., 1994), a certain level of universality can be assumed.
Chiu and Lin (2004) reported that students that held the current consumed model observed it in real life rather than reality. This is evidence that suggests that the current consumed model may warp the individual’s perception of reality. Therefore, the model may be of questionable use from a pedagogical perspective, and so one might argue that physics teachers should address it when teaching electricity.
AQA, 2013a. Report on the Examination – General Certificate of Secondary Education – PH2FP – January 2013. Manchester: Assessment and Qualifications Alliance.
AQA, 2013b. GCSE Full Course results - June 2013. Manchester: AQA.
Chiu, M.-H. & Lin, J.-W., 2004. Promoting fourth graders' conceptual change of their understanding of electric current via multiple analogies. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(4), pp.429-64.
Driver, R., Squires, A., Rushworth, P. & Wood-Robinson, V., 1994. Making Sense of Secondary Science. New York: Routledge.
Joshua, S. & Dupin, J.J., 1987. Taking into Account Student Conceptions in Instructional Strategy: An Example in Physics. Cognition and Instruction, 4(2), pp.117-35.
Shipstone, D.M., 1984. A study of children's understanding of electricity in simple DC Circuits. European Journal of Science Education, 6(2), pp.185-98.
Shipstone, D., 1988. Pupils' understanding of simple electrical circuits. Some implications for instruction. Physics Education, 23(2).
January 04, 2022
Welcome to the new year and a new term. We hope that you have managed to have a restful break and spent some time with your loved ones.
Is one of your new year's resolutions to start your research journey? Ever considered blogging as a first step?
What is WJETT?
The WJETT blog or Warwick Journal of Education - Transforming Teaching blog is designed to encourage staff and students to disseminate good practice and to engage with their peers on academic cultural critique or areas of research that they find interesting. With the increased focus on ‘teachers as researchers’ in the sector, many qualified teachers are expected to publish the outcomes of any action research projects they undertake. The WJETT blog can be the first step on your journey towards publishing and enables you to experience publishing and reviewing in a friendly and supportive environment.
Can I write about anything in my blog post?
Yes pretty much. Academic cultural critique (Thomson and Mewburn, 2013) is always a good source of content for academic blogs. This can include (but is not limited to) comments and reflections on funding; higher education policy or academic life. You might also want to consider blogging about:
- Academic practice (Saper, 2006)
- Information and/or self-help advice
- Technical, teaching and careers advice
- Your research or practice
- How you’ve undertaken research
- The impact of research on your practice
- An area of research/practice that interests you
- Your teaching experiences/reflections
How long can my blog post be?
Each individual blog post should be no longer than 500 words. Long blocks of text are sometimes hard for readers to digest. Break up your content into shorter paragraphs, bullet points and lists whenever possible. Also include a list of keywords or tags as this makes it easier for Google to find your work.
Do I need to use citations?
No, this is a reflective piece so it does not need to include citations (but you obviously can include them if they are relevant).
Can I include links or images?
We would encourage you to include links to any articles that you have considered whilst writing your blog post. We also welcome the use of images (as long as you have permission to use them) as they can often help to illustrate a point and obviously will not be included in the word limit. Please remember this is a public site so if you want to include images of your students in your classes then you will need permission to do this.
What is the process for submitting a piece of work?
Your blog post should be emailed to me at A.Ball.firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the submission has been reviewed it will either be uploaded at the beginning of the next available week or sent back to you for editing if it requires amendments. You should then send the amended work to me once again and I will then upload it onto the WJETT site.