Researching Primary Education

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Rebecca Austin

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    About the Authors

    Dr Rebecca Austin teaches on the Primary English courses across a range of initial teacher education, masters and doctoral programmes in the Faculty of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. She has a lead role in developing research in the faculty around the theme of ‘Pedagogy and Identity’. Her current research interests are concerned with newly qualified teachers and literacy co-ordinators beliefs about the teaching of Primary English in schools. She is also involved in a project to develop academic writing with undergraduate student teachers.

    Wendy Cobb is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University where she teaches on a number of initial teacher education pathways. She is project lead for a partnership initiative which focuses on leadership for social and emotional learning. Wendy is also professional studies lead and research supervisor for a PGCE programme at a School Centred Initial Teaching Training Partnership. In addition, she works as an independent education consultant with a particular interest in Primary Languages.

    Dr Judy Durrant is a Principal Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. She is involved in a range of postgraduate teaching, leadership and development, with particular interest in teacher leadership, professional agency and identity, organisational development and practitioner research. She supports research and development groups for cross-faculty multi-professional working and social and emotional learning as well as school-based action research projects and funded evaluations, including recent consultancy in Palestine and the Philippines. She leads professional development for teacher educators. Her PhD thesis focused on the role of teachers in school change, using a portraiture methodology.

    Dr Peter Gregory has taught across all phases of education across the South East. In schools he has led subject development and curriculum design as well as undertaking local authority advisory work. He is currently Principal Lecturer in Education at Canterbury Christ Church University and regularly teaches and presents research across the UK, Europe and beyond. In his role as Faculty Director of Partner-led Action and Research Development he works with groups of teachers and other professionals to inspire their investigations. Peter is President Elect of the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) and a World Councillor for the International Society for Education through Art (InSEA). He also chairs the Expert Subject Advisory Group (ESAG) which was originally set up by DfE to advise schools on the implementation of the national curriculum.

    Dr Gill Hope is a recently retired senior lecturer from the Faculty of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. During her years there, she taught research methodology to students on the Primary Education Progression Route (with QTS), a level 6 course for students with a Foundation Degree. She also worked with students at Master's level and is continuing to support doctoral students on both EdD and PhD pathways. Her specialism is Design & Technology Education but her interests include creativity and the development of human cognition.

    Dr Kristy Howells is the Faculty of Education Director of Physical Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. She teaches across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes and ITE provision that include Physical Education and Physical Activity. She is particularly passionate about Physical Education and Physical Activity and these are the areas of her research. She has disseminated her findings to schools, through book chapters and national and international conferences.

    Dr Viv Wilson is an experienced teacher educator with over 30 years’ experience. Much of her work involves supporting students’ research investigations at undergraduate and post-graduate levels, including helping to develop their academic writing. She was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2014.

  • Appendix: Format for Analysis of a Research Article

    Full reference details of materialCampbell, T (2013) Stratified at seven: In-class ability-grouping and the relative age effect. British Educational Research Journal 40(5): 749–71.
    What is the main claim made by the author(s)?In-class ability grouping may adversely affect summer-born children in terms of educational attainment (‘mobility’) in KS1.
    What was the aim of the research and what research methods were used?

    The aim was to investigate whether birth–month gradation in teacher perceptions is more pronounced in classes with ability grouping.

    Statistical analysis of data from the Millennium Cohort study was used. The researcher was not directly involved in designing or collecting the Millennium Cohort study data.

    What did the author find out?The author claims that ‘The autumn–summer difference in teacher judgements is significantly more pronounced among in-class ability-grouped pupils than among non-grouped pupils’.
    Are the author's conclusions supported by the evidence presented? Could there be other interpretations of this evidence?The author appears to have considered a number of possible alternative explanations and to have attempted to control for these in different ways.
    How does this information relate to my other reading? Are there similarities or differences to other texts I have read?This is new information, compared to my other reading, but it reinforces the view that ability grouping can be detrimental to the attainment of at least some children.
    Does the author make his/her personal viewpoint clear? What is this? How do you know?The author is opposed to ability grouping in the early primary years. This view appears to be based on the evidence from her analysis of the Millennium Cohort data.
    How will I use this information in my literature review?This research is recent and can be used to support the argument that ability grouping can adversely affect children's progress and attainment in primary schools. I will need to make it clear that this study only looks at the early primary years.

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