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Evaluation of “trying to apply research” in the classroom – part 2 -Pupil feedback and my evaluation

June 19, 2018

This post follows up part 1 (here) which gives the background on the “best bets” of research that I have been applying in recent years. Part 2 looks at what pupils made of the strategies and my own evaluation. This is part of my presentation that I gave at the (wonderful) #theory2impact conference on 10th May which was organised by @ImpactWales)

Note- using pupil voice is not without pitfalls because pupils do not always know what is best for their learning. The beauty of this is that if they say good things then you take it, but if they say bad things then you just say that they don’t know what is best for their learning…………

Having read this blog post by @missdcox I decided to gather the views of my class. I gave each pupil the following question sheet:

questions

The first question was on the regular (low stakes) quizzes. The response was:

quizzes

Pupils gave the following reasons for their answers:

quiz 1quiz 2quiz 3quiz 4quiz 5quiz 7

The last response is interesting. It is a fair challenge. However, I was able to remind pupils that not wasting time writing down the question means that we can cover more content for retrieval practice. Besides, I am looking to make a change in their brains, not in the back of their books.

The second question was on the spacing grids used in the spacing lessons (all explained in part 1).

spacing results

Pupils gave the following reasons for their answers:

space 1space 2space 3space 4space 5

Very positive responses (in the main). I think these responses show that pupils understood why we were doing what we were doing. I have spent time over the last 2 years fully explaining the why of these strategies to the pupils. This has been vital.

Note the question. It asks if they were useful rather than whether they enjoyed them. This is important because pupils didn’t enjoy the spacing tasks. Not one bit. They found them hard. They were trying to recall content that we had moved on from up to 3 weeks previously. It was desirably difficult. But the key was that pupils understood the rationale behind it. This meant they put their full effort into it despite it being hard.

Copies of the spacing grids and a set of revision questions (a set for each topic- pretty much made from the questions we had used for low stakes quizzes- see here for examples) were then given to pupils well before their summer exam so that they could be used for revision. I hate the notion that we tell pupils “off you go and revise” without giving them something concrete to use for revision (and as a consequence, at best they just read and highlight- more here).

revisionrevise 3revise 2revise 1

The last question was on the use of their blue revision card. This is based on (well, stolen from) an idea by @ChemDrK here:

blue card1 - Copy

This is the blue card:

 

bluey 2

 

So the back contained a ready made (spaced) revision timetable. And the spacing grids and questions gave ready made revision material.

blue card results

Less positive responses here. However, the reasons were far more reassuring:

blue card 1blue card 2blue card 3

The key here is that pupils were revising. The blue card gives some structure and guidance but as long as they are revising it is not vital that they are using it.

 

My Reflection

I appreciate that the ultimate evaluation will happen when their exam marks come through in August but until then:

  • The in-year revision is helpful to all. It even gives pupils who will do no revision outside of school a fighting chance of success (you can’t wing a science exam, it is too content heavy). Not that I am condoning “no revision” outside of the classroom from any pupils.
  • I was comfortable that I had provided them with the support and guidance to do their own revision. They could not say they didn’t know how, what and when to revise. I can’t control whether they do of course. But I know I can do no more.
  • Keeping on top of revision during the year fills the pupils with confidence. They are aware that they know content from as far back as September. This also boosts their positive perception of the subject. I believe this means they are more likely to revise as they can see that they have a chance of success.
  • Having lots of “fingertip knowledge” made future learning easier. Pupils’ knowledge of flame tests for metal ions makes teaching ionic bonding (4 months later) a lot easier
  • With three weeks to go before their exam, my focus switched to practising exam technique and applying their knowledge on past paper questions (thanks @danielharvey9). I didn’t have to reteach the course. I didn’t have the frustration that they are missing (because they have forgotten) huge chunks of background knowledge.
  • Irrespective of the exam,  I want my pupils to know as much Science as they can. It is a great subject. These strategies have helped (I think).

Part 3 will follow and will focus on trying to implement these strategies at a whole school level.

Footnote- Year 11 Green – you have worked extremely hard; I hope you get your reward in August.

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