Professional Learning: Evidence of changes in teaching, learning and assessment practices
The focus of this action research was on assessment in terms of measurement and development, using one to inform the other. Moving away from a fixation on grading allowed students to break the cycle of failure and the subsequent associated despondency. This was the starting point for all three Develop centres: Bedford, Dunstable and Norwich; although all three looked at a specific knock-on effect from this system of failure.
The tutor leading this programme in Bedford, in line with the focus on changing attitudes towards English learning and attendance, observed the following changes in her students as well as in her own practice:
“I gave them 100% certificates for termly attendance and most of them really appreciated these to take home and show them off. I do show the register on the board for them all to see. I do think that spending some time to focus and reward good attendance has had a positive impact. Also, along the way, I have reflected on my lessons including: starting with a game, a riddle and discussing the news and other topics e.g. anxiety etc. I have sat myself amongst them for some of these activities and discussions, so there are no barriers. This has brought them together as a team and perhaps heightened their enjoyment of the lesson. We have had a trip to London, role plays, samosas and songs!!
Because of this they have a very focused attitude to work and rarely waste time …”
The tutor leading the research programme in Dunstable, in line with a focus on student/teacher rapport and progress made in skill objectives, noticed that students were struggling with how hard they found English. She adapted her practice to allow students time to reflect on how they felt, often starting with activities around unstructured writing, after which she noticed an increased engagement from the students, as well as their becoming more open about their struggles.
The tutor leading the programme in Norwich, in line with the focus on student engagement and teaching and learning approaches, observed that reflecting on student assessment was particularly useful in informing teaching and subsequently student learning.
Through developing self-reflection within the students, as well as reflecting on the lessons, it was felt that students responded well to repeating areas of success and continued to break down the areas of struggle they had identified. This enabled the students to receive tangible positive reinforcement and support.