The project was designed to generate qualitative data by means of semi-structured interviews with staff and students, and quantitative data through the review of attendance data, the impact on achievement and the level of access to the resources. The impact of the study would also consider the active engagement of our students and their involvement in recording the texts to be used in class in the autumn term. The research process was facilitated by the project leader while our Head of Department for English & Maths and English lecturers formed the project working team and led on the implementation plan.
The project was split into 2 parts:
The first part of our study was planned to begin before autumn half term and focused on the introduction of a chosen English text into a GCSE English resit lesson through small group discussions centred around the techniques used by the writer. Our students were asked to consider what the text would sound like if it were being acted out on the radio, or if it were an audio recording. They were then encouraged to consider how the writer had written the scene. This was followed by an opportunity for students to produce a recording of how they felt the piece should be read out and how a ‘listening’ audience might respond.
As part of the activity students were asked to share their views and to consider:
• How useful did they think it would be if they could listen to the piece as well as read the text?
• Did they find the activity useful in helping them to interpret the text and identify the writer’s techniques?
• Did they feel more confident having carried out the group activity? And so on …
The second part of the study introduced a new piece of text with students first listening to an audio recording of the chosen text. The lesson then carried on as per usual. The purpose was to discover whether listening to the text first might aid our students to become more engaged with the material and responsive to learning about the writing techniques used by the writer.
Again, as part of this activity our students were asked to share their views and to consider:
• How helpful did they think it was to listen to the new piece of text before reading it?
• Did listening beforehand make the piece of text more accessible?
• Was the activity useful in helping the students to interpret the text and identify the writer’s techniques?
• Is this something the students would readily do again?
We also planned to post the recording to a Google site so that students could access the recording outside the classroom. This would give them opportunity to listen to the text before they came to class, and again in class before reading and engaging with the questions set around the text.