THE HONG KONG SMALL CLASS TEACHING (SCT) STUDY Maurice Galton Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge (mg email@example.com)
BACKGROUND TO THE SCT STUDY
What are the benefits of SCT in the local context? • What teaching strategies, professional support and resources are necessary in order to maximise the benefits of SCT in Hong Kong primary schools?
Do pupils in small classes make more progress than those in regular ones? • Are attitudes to languages and mathematics stronger in small classes? Does self-esteem/motivation improve? • Do attitudes and attainment improve the longer pupils remain in small classes? • Is attainment or attitude associated with certain teacher and pupil behaviour? • Do pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit the most? • What other factors (school leadership, parent support) influence performance in small classes ?
SAMPLES In most years of the study some 700 classes were tested in Chinese, mathematics and English Approx 20,000 pupils took part in P1 , 23,500 in P2, 20,500 in P3 and 11, 000 in P4. 53.9% of the initial P1 sample were in small classes, 27.2% from the regular classes in the same schools and 18.9% from the reference schools.
School Learning Orientation (combined attitude & motivation as % of maximum score)
Main Conclusions These results are difficult to interpret but in all cases differences between the various samples are not large with small to very small effect sizes. • Cohort 2 do best in P1 drop back in P2 but do better again when they return to normal classes in P3 • Cohort 1 do least well in P1 and P2 (except in English) hold their own in P3 (compared to controls) but fall back again when they return to normal classes in P4 There is therefore no overwhelming evidence that being in a small class boosts pupils’ attainment. Consequently being in a small class for 3 rather than 2 years has a marginal effect. Returning to a large class has a positive effect in Cohort 2 but a negative one in Cohort 1. The fact that these trends are not consistent suggest that • Initial attainment at the start of the year is the major determinant of progress • The expertise of the teacher of a particular class is also a crucial factor • Teachers in small classes were still experimenting with different teaching approaches; hence the variable results .
Some implications of this finding The figure for the average % observation when no pupil was in focus had dropped from 73% to 66% by the end of the study. During this time pupils were • Listening to the teacher talk or watching him/her demonstrate • Singing a song or reciting a poem/story/ writing on the board in unison In a 35 minute period there is a maximum of 12.3 minutes to give individual attention ( either alone in a group or as part of the class). With 20 pupils this gives a maximum of 37 seconds. With 40 the figure is 19 seconds. .
Four types of teacher of teacher behaviour Cluster analysis used to identify 4 teacher types: • Type 1 (30.1%): Individual/pair sustained enquirers • Type 2 (18.5%): group task monitors • Type 3 (30.1%): Whole class instructors • Type 4 (21.3%): Whole class questioners
Effectiveness of teacher types • At P1 there were no significant differences in attainment between the teacher types in any subject but pupils taught by individual/pair sustained enquirers had higher learning dispositions (combined subject attitude & motivation score) in Chinese. In mathematics pupils in the top third of the ability range taught by whole class questioners had the strongest learning disposition. • At P2 only English registered significant results. Pupils in the top third of the ability range made significant progress in attainment and had better learning disposition when taught by whole class questioners. • When aggregated scores were used P2 pupils taught by whole class instructors had the worst learning disposition while those taught by whole class questioners had the best.There were no attainment differences.
Four types of pupil behaviour Cluster analysis used to identify 4 pupil types These are similar to those identified in UK: • Type 1 (43.8%): Solitary workers • Type 2 (22.4%): intermittent workers • Type 3 (23.3%): Active collaborators • Type 4 (10.5%): Attention grabbers
Some implications & findings No attainment, attitude or subject differences between pupil types More active collaborators in small classes (25.2% compared to 18% in normal classes) Girls constituted 54.8% of solitary workers while 59% of attention grabbers were boys In P1, P2 and P3 solitary workers are in the majority. In P3 there were more active collaborators (30%) and fewer attention grabbers (7.1%) In general patterns are stable suggesting types may be, in part, a function of personality rather than a consequence of teaching approach.
School aggregated scores were ranked to give 6 high attaining schools and 4 low attaining ones. Comparisons were then made on a number of measures Successful schools had • Principals who took an active part in curriculum development and teachers’ professional learning • Teachers who tended to favour the individual/pair sustained enquiry approach • More mathematics teachers teaching mathematics and less mathematics teachers teaching other subjects • Higher levels of parental support
Teaching as Instruction • Provide an Advanced Organizer • Check what pupils know with quick, snappy question & answer session • Present new knowledge • Provide for practice which emphasises application • Extend practice by homework • Give feedback which is informative • Review new learning
YES Mathematical procedures English grammar Scientific information Historical facts Using maps Practical skills NO Mathematical problem solving Extended writing Scientific investigations Discussing controversial social science topics Uses of Direct Instruction
Teaching as Enquiry Engaging in complex cognitive processes requires thoughtful discourse. Pupils are invited to make predictions, debate alternatives, etc. This can take place during interactive whole class teaching or during peer interaction in pairs or groups and should involve: • Placing the topic in the wider, meaningful context (big picture) • Using ‘open ended’ questions • Allowing suitable ‘wait times’ • Encouraging explanations or elaboration of answers.
Teaching as Scaffolding Helping pupils to learn how to ‘think for themselves’ requires temporary frameworks. They reduce ‘the degrees of freedom a child must manage in the task to prevent error rather than induce it’. (Bruner) Providing models of appropriate response (e.g. model answers, demonstrations etc.) feedback as in guided discovery Identifying potential problems from the outset Rehearsing an argument (pupils explain to class/group in words their reasoning e.g.their answer to a maths problem) Cue Cards ( as in writing frames ) Self-evaluation checklists (requires pupils to check through the process by which they reached a conclusion and to indicate how it might be improved
What research says about effective teaching John Hattie (2005) surveyed a large number of studies and concluded that the following were important (effect size in brackets): • Motivation: improving disposition to learn (0.61) • More questions, particularly challenging ones (0.42) • Informing feedback (self regulation) (0.95) • Feedback that reinforces effort(0.94) rather than general praise (0.14) • Corrective feedback(0.37) • Peer tutoring(0.56) The more we increase the use of these variables the better our results.
Six key principles to keep SCT on track Communicate learning goals to class in terms of process not outcomes Use assessment to inform future instruction Give feedback which helps pupils to sort out their own mistakes Provide more thinking time during questioning Boost participation during class discussions Develop cooperation between pupils by pair/group work
Professional Development Learning Circles have been well received with the number increasing during the past year. Attendance appears to improve the quality of classroom discourse More needs to be done for coordinators who in many schools exercise sole responsibility for running the SCT programme. Some Principals need to rethink their leadership strategies (less delegation and more active participation) particularly in relation to pedagogy.
Teachers who attended Learning Circles • Offer more ideas • Provide more informing feedback • Have pupils of different abilities working on different tasks • Often sit pupils of different ability by themselves when working on these tasks • More often praise for effort