Motivating your Secondary Class
Publication Year: 2009
Maurice Galton and his team have collected examples from various schools of what works in re-energizing demotivated pupils. This book presents practical advice and strategies for improving lower secondary school classrooms, ranging from reducing class size, to innovative induction programs emphasizing the development of core study skills, and developing effective procedures to train pupils to cooperate rather than confront each other during lessons.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Is There a Crisis in the Lower Secondary School?
- Chapter 2: Initial Encounters: Moving to Secondary School
- Chapter 3: Working Together – Learning Together: Cooperative Working in the Classroom
- Chapter 4: ‘It's Good to Talk!’: Improving Communication between Pupils and Teachers and Why it's Worth the Effort
- Chapter 5: Teacher and Pupil Development in Different School and Classroom Contexts
- Chapter 6: Why were Some Classrooms More Successful?
- Chapter 7: One Big Family? Promoting Harmony and Resilience
© Maurice Galton, Susan Steward, Linda Hargreaves, Charlotte Page and Tony Pell 2009
First published 2009
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
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List of Figures[Page vii]
- 1.1 Secondary truancy rates as a percentage of ‘sweep’ sample over five years 3
- 1.2 Decline in teacher status ratings from two surveys 4
- 1.3 Achievement mastery motivation: Year 7 to Year 9 11
- 1.4 Academic satisfaction motivation: Year 7 to Year 9 12
- 1.5 Pro-school motivation: Year 7 to Year 9 13
- 1.6 Correlation of pro-school motivation with attainment: Year 7 to Year 9 14
- 1.7 Liking English: Year 6 to Year 9 15
- 1.8 Liking mathematics: Year 6 to Year 9 17
- 1.9 The decline in liking science: Year 6 to Year 9 19
- 1.10 Active participation: Year 7 to Year 9 23
- 1.11 Anti-boffin sub-culture: Year 7 to Year 9 24
- 1.12 Change in anxiety over the school year 26
- 1.13 Change in girls' anxiety over the school year: Year 7 to Year 9 26
- 1.14 Change in extroversion over the school year 27
- 1.15 Attitudes in cooperative group working: Year 7 to Year 9 29
- 1.16 Liking group work: Year 7 to Year 9 30
- 1.17 Quality of the group-working environment: Year 7 to Year 9 31
- 2.1 Percentage of interactions: pre and post transfer 47
- 2.2 Percentage of questions before and after transfer 47
- 2.3 Percentage of statements before and after transfer 48
- 4.1 Time on task in groups and not in groups 88
- 4.2 Incidence of partial distraction or ‘cods’ in group-working and non-group-working organizations 89
- 4.3 Observations of sustained interactions in group and non-group settings 90
- 4.4 Open dialogue in groups and not in groups 90
- 4.5 Relationships between sustained interactions and high cognitive dialogue during group work 92
- 4.6 Time on task of pupil types when working in groups and not in groups 94
List of Tables[Page viii]
- 1.1 Characteristics of the four pupil types 33
- 2.1 Five Transfer Bridges (1997-present) 51
- 3.1 The relationship between seating and working arrangements in the classroom (pre-National Curriculum) 64
- 3.2 Measures used to assess pupils' performance 70
- 3.3 Progress in English by topic and by gender (SDs in brackets) 72
- 3.4 Progress in mathematics by task demand and by gender (SDs in brackets) 73
- 3.5 Progress in science by topic and by gender (SDs in brackets) 75
- 4.1 Main categories used to observe pupils' classroom behaviour 86
- 4.2 Time on task and pupil types 87
- 4.3 Group-work and non-group-work interactions by pupil type: how groups smooth out imbalances in participation 95
Introduction: Motivating Pupils in the Secondary Classroom[Page ix]
This book seeks to address issues that for the most part do not impact on the public debate about the success or otherwise of the nation's secondary schools. In a system where the quality of a school is mainly judged by its performance on national tests, little heed is paid to the older, more experienced teachers who argue that it is the current curriculum, and all that goes with it, that has a demotivating effect on pupils' willingness to learn, and that this situation has worsened over the last decade. Such strictures are generally viewed by critics of the present state system of schooling as excuses for poor teaching.
Rather than take the view that success in examinations and tests is sufficient motivation in itself, we would argue that in today's schools pupils, while recognizing that they need to do well academically in order to improve their life chances, nevertheless engage with the curriculum with little enthusiasm. This attitude to learning can have powerful negative effects on teachers, since when they attempt to get their pupils to use their new-found knowledge to extend their understanding of a topic, pupils are apt to ask, ‘Is this on the syllabus? Do I need it to get the required grade?’. When the answer to both questions is ‘No’, then pupils often show little enthusiasm for undertaking further work. Anecdotal evidence from admission tutors at universities suggests that similar attitudes carry over into higher education.
Much of the research evidence on which these arguments are based has been carried out by the authors in studies undertaken in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. These include several studies of transfer and a major study of group work, the SPRinG (Social Pedagogic Research into Group Work) Project which was part of a national initiative designed to focus on aspects of contemporary pedagogy in English classrooms. We acknowledge the help of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) who funded much of this research but we also drew on support from the then Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Creative Partnerships for funding other studies which provided relevant data.
Although the book is conceived as whole, rather than as an edited volume, various members of the research team at Cambridge have taken responsibility for individual chapters. As such, whenever future writers refer to specific content from the book we would suggest that the appropriate author should be cited. Thus the first chapter by Tony Pell mounts [Page x]the case for the alternative thesis that at secondary level in particular, the poor performance of English pupils relative to students in other comparable countries is a direct consequence of the limited vision provided by the current Key Stage 3 curriculum and the restrictions placed upon classroom practitioner by the pressure to ‘teach for the tests’ so as to do well in the league tables. Having established the urgent case for reform, the following three chapters look at some key factors that might bring about improvements in pupil motivation. In Chapter 2 we focus on the transfer of pupils from primary into secondary school arguing that these first impressions largely determine later attitudes. In Chapter 3 a case for the increased use of group work rather than whole-class instruction is put forward, not only on the grounds that pupils prefer to work collaboratively but also because there is evidence that when measures of attainment require pupils to demonstrate understanding and a capacity for problem solving rather than memorization, pupils do better in groups.
Chapter 4 looks at the aspect of communication, whether it takes place between pupils in groups or as part of class discussion with the teacher, and the links between talking and learning. Extended forms of discourse, so important in helping pupils to think critically, also have a major influence on motivation. This is because when the class engages in prolonged discussion it signifies a different relationship between the teacher and the pupils; one where both are co-learners, in contrast to the Government's preference for whole-class interactive teaching, delivered at pace, where the inference is that the teacher (because s/he is more knowledgeable) retains control of the learning. Chapter 5 then looks at the way in which various school cultures, particularly those of the core subject disciplines can either hinder or enhance cooperation in the classroom, while in Chapter 6 we examine case studies of teachers who have managed to resist the current trend and maintain high levels of pupil motivation. In the final chapter we look at the comprehensive school as an organization and suggest ways in which the system should change to make the teachers' task of sustaining pupil motivation easier. As an indication of what is possible, we look at the way that certain artists who work in schools set about the task of motivating pupils to renew their interest in learning.
We must acknowledge the help received from a number of colleagues who either collaborated with us on various research projects or provided wise advice. First, our gratitude goes to the late Jean Rudduck, who co-directed some of the transfer studies and also to the late Donald McIntyre whose observations and suggestions were always pointed and accurate. Both are sorely missed. We must thank John Gray and John MacBeath who were at various times co-directors of projects. Elsewhere, our appreciation goes to Peter Blatchford and Peter Kutnick who co-directed the SPRinG (Social Pedagogic Research into Group Work) Project. We must also acknowledge the crucial role played by Sally Roach, our secretary for several of these key projects. Not only did she sort out the idiosyncrasies of a manuscript where different members of the team were responsible for [Page xi]drafting various chapters, but acted as the all-important link between the researchers and the schools and proved an excellent sleuth when it came to ferreting out obscure references for the literature review.
Finally our thanks go to the schools and to the teachers who allowed us to sit in their classrooms and gave up time to collaborate with us on various aspects of the research. Their involvement and commitment demonstrate that the desire to improve the lives of their pupils is still the major reason why teachers are prepared to work such long hours and to subject themselves to such high levels of stress. Such teachers live for those ‘magic moments’ when ‘the penny finally drops’ and the pupil's puzzled countenance is replaced by a satisfied look of recognition. Sadly, because of the dominance of the present ‘performance’ culture in our schools such moments are not as frequent as they should be. If pupils are once more to learn to love learning for its own sake rather than for its economic potential, then we are going to need more of these magic moments and hopefully, this book can make a small contribution to bringing these about.[Page xii]
Appendix A Details of the Attitude and Motivation Inventories Used in the Study[Page 175]
Motivation questionnaires used a 5-point response scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.
Pre-Test Motivation Items 1. I am doing well in most subjects. 2. I work hard to please my parents. 3. I am pretty confident about doing the tasks I am set. 4. I do my best to get the highest level in the SATs. 5. I try to learn as much as I can. 6. I can write really well in English. 7. I need to work hard to get to university. 8. I like to start new, more difficult work. 9. I would say that I am a really hard worker. 10. I feel proud when I get good marks.
Achievement mastery motivation: 1, 3, 5, 6, 9
Academic satisfaction motivation: 2, 4, 7, 8, 10
Post-Test Motivation Items 1. I am doing well in most subjects. 2. I would say I mess-about a lot at school. 3. I work hard to please my parents. [Page 176] 4. I am pretty confident about doing the tasks I am set. 5. Learning in school is a bit of a bore. 6. I do my best to get the highest level in the SATs. 7. I try to learn as much as I can. 8. I can write really well in English. 9. I need to work hard to get to university. 10. I like to start new, more difficult work. 11. I am often in trouble at school. 12. I would say that I am a really hard worker. 13. I don't do much homework. 14. I feel proud when I get good marks. 15. I don't write any more than I have to. 16. No matter what, I always do my best.
Achievement mastery motivation: 1, 4, 7, 8, 12
Academic satisfaction motivation: 3, 6, 9, 10, 14
‘Anti’-school motivation: 2, 5, 11, 13, 15, 16 (Reverse the scoring for the first five items to get ‘pro’-school motivation)
Subject attitude questionnaires used a 5-point response scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.
Liking English Items 1. I like English more than any other school subject. 2. I hate spelling tests. 3. English is a good subject for everybody to learn. 4. I like talking rather than writing. 5. We are finding out new things all the time in English lessons. 6. We should have fewer English lessons. 7. I like trying to spell out new words. [Page 177] 8. I like writing my own stories. 9. Sometimes, English is boring. 10. I like to listen to people who speak really well. 11. I always look forward to English lessons. 12. I should like to be given a dictionary as a present. 13. Learning English makes me think better. 14. Writing long sentences is very hard. 15. I seem to get tired easily in English lessons. 16. I should like to get a job where I can use all I know about English.
Reversed scoring is used for items 2, 4, 6, 9, 14 and 15.
Liking Mathematics Items 1. I like maths more than any other school subject. 2. Now we have computers, we don't need so much maths. 3. I like doing maths projects. 4. We should have fewer maths lessons. 5. I would rather work out a sum myself than use a calculator. 6. Sometimes, maths is boring. 7. I like to watch maths programmes on TV. 8. I should like to get a job where I can use all I know about maths.
Reversed scoring is used for items 2, 4 and 6.
Liking Science Items 1. I like science more than any other school subject. 2. Science is good for everybody. [Page 178] 3. Too much money is spent on science. 4. I don't like doing experiments. 5. It is easy to find out new things in science lessons. 6. I often do science experiments at home. 7. In an experiment, I like finding out what happens myself. 8. Sometimes, science is boring. 9. School science clubs are a good idea. 10. I like telling my teacher what I have done. 11. I like to watch science programmes on TV. 12. I like finding out why an experiment works. 13. We should have fewer science lessons. 14. Science makes me think. 15. I am always reading science stories. 16. I should like to be given a science kit as a present. 17. I should like to be a scientist.
Reversed scoring is used for items 4, 8 and 13.
Item 3 is not used in computing an aggregate total.
Peer relationship items
The questionnaire used a 5-point response scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.
Peer Relationship Items 1. If I don't like someone, I won't work with them. 2. I like working with friends all the time. 3. I like to make my point of view. 4. I have lots of ideas to share with others. 5. Its ‘cool’ not to be too smart. [Page 179] 6. Others are always winding me up. 7. I keep quiet about my own ideas. 8. I have some really close friends. 9. I usually follow the others and do what they do. 10. I would say I am a popular person.
Active participation: 3, 4, 7 (reversed)
Anti-boffin sub-culture: 1, 2, 5, 9
The questionnaire used a two point response scale of Yes/No.
Personality Items 1. Do you like team games? 2. Do you always feel under pressure? 3. Do you like going to parties? 4. Do lots of things annoy you? 5. Would you like parachute jumping? 6. Do you find it hard to get to sleep at night because you are worrying about things? 7. Do you often feel life is very dull? 8. Can you let yourself go and enjoy yourself a lot at a lively party? 9. Do you ever feel ‘just miserable’ for no good reason? 10. Do you think others often say nasty things about you? 11. Do you have lots of friends to go with at school? 12. Are tour feelings rather easily hurt? 13. Do you often feel ‘fed-up’? 14. Would you call yourself happy-go-lucky?
Anxiety items: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13
Extraversion items: 1, 3, 8, 11[Page 180]
Working in groups items
The questionnaire used a 5-point response scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.
Working in Groups Items 1. I like to share what I know with others in the group. 2. Learning is more interesting in groups. 3. We should help others in the group if there is a problem. 4. If we don't all agree, we should look for common ground. 5. Groups encourage you to work hard. 6. I get more work done when in a group. 7. We should all have a say in the decisions made. 8. Group work is fun. 9. To get a job done in the group you have to work together. 10. You get to think more in groups.
Attitudes to co-operative working: 1, 3, 4, 7, 9
Liking group-work: items 2, 5, 6, 8, 10
Quality of group working items
The questionnaire used a 5-point response scale ranging from always, nearly always, sometimes, only now and again, to never in reply to the question ‘Does this happen in your class?’.
Quality of Group Working Environment Items 1. We take turns when talking. 2. There is interrupting or cutting off. 3. We are sensitive to the needs of others. 4. We discuss things and do not argue. 5. We get on well together. 6. We are well organised.
Appendix B NFER (National Foundation of Educational Research) Conversion from Levels to Points[Page 181]
A typical pupil at the end of primary, Year 6 should reach Level 4 and at the end of lower secondary Year 9, Level 5. A year's progress therefore equals 2 NFER points.
Level 3 = 21 Level 3+ = 23 Level 4− = 25 Level 4 = 27 Level 4+ = 29 Level 5− = 31 Level 5 = 33 Level 5+ = 35 Level 6− = 37 Level 6 = 39 Level 6+ = 41
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