Understanding Pedagogy and its Impact on Learning


Edited by: Peter Mortimore

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    I wish to record my thanks to the authors – all busy with teaching duties, research commitments and administrative tasks – for the positive way in which they approached the challenge of drafting and revising these eleven chapters. I also wish to thank Jo Mortimore for help with the final manuscript. Finally I wish to pay tribute to Ranjna Patel for her patience in managing the many texts and disks involved in this project.


    This book has grown out of a series of discussions with colleagues at the Institute of Education. On numerous occasions over the last few years we have bemoaned the lack of a collection of writing about pedagogy. This most important of topics – affecting the way hundreds of thousands of learners of different ages and stages are taught – has been neglected. Instead of systematic collections of evidence, teachers have had to rely on ideological positions, folk wisdom and the mantras of enthusiasts for particular approaches. At the beginning of 1998 we felt the time had come to stop bemoaning this lack and do something about it. Accordingly we decided to create a book. I am grateful to the commissioning editor of Sage Publications who shared this view and has made the idea into reality.

    The purpose of our collection of eleven chapters is to encourage debate about pedagogy in England today. We are contributing our initial work but are well aware that much more needs to be said and done. We are academics – although we all have professional backgrounds as teachers – and part of our job is to think about educational issues and how they might be resolved. We are very conscious that the debate about pedagogy must involve two other groups: practising teachers and policy makers. It must involve teachers because they are involved with pedagogy every working day of their lives. Teachers have a great deal of knowledge about pedagogy and have often learned the hard way what does and does not work. Policy makers representing, as they do, the wider society of parents, employers and citizens must also participate in this debate. We believe such participation is essential even though we deplore the idea that pedagogy should ever be prescribed by policy makers and fear the negative impact of ‘top down diktats’.

    Our book consists of an introductory chapter in which we explore the context of pedagogy and recount some of the shifts in thinking that have occurred over recent years. We also point up the differences in approach between academics, practitioners and policy makers. This introduction is followed by a series of chapters in which we trawl the published literature for evidence about the impact of pedagogy on the development of differently aged learners and those learning in different contexts. We depart from this age/context classification in order to include two further chapters: one focusing on learners with special educational needs; and another which addresses some of the issues of pedagogy arising from the use of information and communications technology (ICT). In the last chapter, we endeavour to address the big picture. What do we know about the impact of particular pedagogies and, as importantly, what do we still not know? Given the structure of the book, we also ask whether there are important differences between the pedagogy used for learners of different ages and stages. Finally, we use the information from the separate chapters to ask whether there are any lessons for the future. Our focus is mainly on England and, although many of the papers we cite are from North America or mainland Europe, we are conscious of this limitation. Some of the issues to which we draw attention are common to all systems but others are culture specific.

    As with all edited collections, we authors share a sense of frustration. Having completed our chapters we feel we are at the beginning rather than the end of our work. Nevertheless, despite such limitations we offer the book as a contribution to an important debate. We look forward to discussing our ideas with practitioners and policy makers and taking forward into the new century such collective thinking on pedagogy.

    Peter Mortimore
    Institute of Education
    University of London

    Notes on Contributors

    Professor Ronald Barnett is Dean of Professional Development and Professor of Higher Education at the Institute of Education. He worked in higher education for twenty years, as a researcher and an academic administrator before joining the Institute. He is the author of many books on higher education including two prize winning volumes The Idea of Higher Education and The Limits of Competence, both published by Open University Press.

    Dr Jenny Corbett is Senior Lecturer in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education. She worked in secondary schools and in special education before moving into further and higher education. Her major research interests are in language and power discourses relating to special needs and inclusive policy and practices within the post-school sector. Current research projects involve an analysis of the ideological history of inclusive education and an investigation into vocational training for young people with learning disabilities in France and Cyprus. Her most recent book Special Educational Needs in the Twentieth Century is published by Cassell.

    Professor Caroline Gipps was Dean of Research at the Institute of Education until 1998. She trained as a psychologist and worked as a primary school teacher before going into research. For over twenty-five years she has carried out research on issues around assessment and testing and the links among assessment, teaching and learning. She is currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Kingston University.

    Toni Griffiths is Director of Education and Professional Development at University College London. She was previously Dean for New Initiatives at the Institute of Education, University of London, and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Warwick. She has been involved in European research and development projects in the field of work-based learning, particularly work experience, for the past ten years.

    David Guile is a Research Officer in the Post 16 Centre of the Institute of Education. He is co-chair of the New Learning for New Work Consortium. He has been a deputy head of an inner London comprehensive school and a consultant for London East Training and Enterprise Council, and undertook an industrial secondment with British Telecom. His research interests are Work-based learning, Education-business partnerships and ICT. His latest monograph Information and Communication Technology and Education is published by the Institute of Education.

    Dr Susan Hallam is Senior Lecturer in the Psychology of Education and Assistant to the Dean of Professional Development at the Institute of Education. She has been involved in educational work for almost thirty years and has experience as a teacher and LEA co-ordinator in addition to lecturing and researching in higher education. Her research has been concerned with learning and teaching in a range of educational environments, truancy and exclusion from school and the effects of listening to background music on behaviour, a reflection of her background in music.

    Dr Ann Hodgson has worked as a teacher, lecturer, editor, civil servant and LEA advisor. She now works as a lecturer in adult and lifelong education at the Institute of Education and writes on education policy issues such as reform of the 14–19 curriculum, widening participation in learning, organising and funding adult and lifelong learning and value-added approaches to achievement.

    Dr Judy Ireson is Senior Lecturer in Psychology of Education at the Institute of Education. She has many years' experience of teaching and research in psychology and education, in this country and overseas. Her main area of expertise is in psychological and educational aspects of learning, with research interests in the relations between educational contexts, teaching and learning; individual tutoring and the teaching of reading. She is currently undertaking research on the impact of ability grouping in schools.

    Dr Maria Kambouri is a lecturer in Research Methods in Psychology and Education. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked in educational establishments in Greece, Belgium and the USA as tutor, consultant, researcher and student. Her main research interests are adult learning and the use of ICT and other media in learning and teaching. She has directed several research projects for the Basic Skills Agency on adult literacy and numeracy Issues.

    Norman Lucas is a lecturer in Post 16 Education at the Institute of Education. He was an elected member of the Inner London Education Authority and a former Further Education lecturer. His research and publications include initial teacher education and professional development, issues of professionalism, Further Education funding and management.

    Dr Barbara MacGilchrist is Dean of Initial Teacher Education at the Institute of Education. She has worked in the education field for over thirty years and was a teacher, headteacher and LEA Chief Inspector before joining the Institute as Head of In-Service Education. Her major research interest is school effectiveness and improvement. Her latest book The Intelligent School is published by Paul Chapman.

    Professor Peter Mortimore is the Director of the Institute of Education. He has worked in the education field for over thirty years and has been a teacher, local authority officer and school inspector as well as a university teacher and researcher. He is an expert in school effectiveness and improvement. His latest book The Road to Improvement is published by Swets and Zeitlinger.

    Professor Brahm Norwich is Professor of Special Needs Education at the Institute of Education. He has worked as a teacher and educational psychologist. His interests are in the education of children and young people with disabilities and difficulties in learning, support systems in schools, motivational and emotional aspects of teaching and learning and the theoretical and practical contributions of psychology to education.

    Professor Richard Noss is Professor of Mathematics Education at the Institute of Education. He was a mathematics teacher for nearly ten years, before turning to research in mathematics education in the early 1980s. He is an expert on the educational potential of digital technologies and has authored and edited several books. Most recently he is the co-author of Windows on Mathematical Meanings: Learning Cultures and Computers, published by Kluwer.

    Dr Norbert Pachler is Lecturer in Languages in Education at the Institute of Education with responsibility for the Secondary PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages and the MA in Modern Languages in Education. Prior to moving into higher education he worked for the inspectorate and advisory service of a London local education authority on curriculum development and in-service training and taught in secondary and further education.

    Dr Iram Siraj-Blatchford is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education within the Child Development and Learning Group at the Institute of Education. She has been a teacher in primary and nursery classes and an advisory teacher. She has lectured and published widely on ECE. She is editor of the International Journal for Early Years Education and co-director of the major longitudinal study Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) Project funded until 2003 by the DfEE.

    Chris Watkins is Head of the Assessment, Guidance and Effective Learning Group at the Institute of Education. He has been a mathematics teacher in a large secondary school, a teacher in charge of a unit for pupils whose effect on school was disruptive, and a trained school counsellor. Current work in the field of pedagogy includes effective learning in classrooms, mentoring, tutoring and school behaviour.

    Professor Michael Young is Head of the Post 16 Education Centre at the Institute of Education. Before joining the Institute as Lecturer in Sociology of Education, he taught science in London secondary schools. His recent research has concentrated on the post compulsory curriculum and in particular on different national strategies for overcoming the academic/vocational divide. His latest book The Curriculum of the Future was published in 1998 by Falmer Press.

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