Motivating Boys – Research 2017-18

One of our English Teachers, Victoria Gilbert and Progress Manager, Leisha Pentlow carried out an action research project looking at motivating boys in lessons. This is a summary of their project.

Research Question

Does using positive relationships and encouragement to build self-esteem improve progress in boys?

Method

Use of Boosters.

Boosters are self-belief, learning focus, value of schooling, persistence, planning and monitoring, and study management.

Summary of what you did to adapt your practice.

Teachers adapted styles of learning through one-to-one and small intervention groups, using encouragement and a growth mindset to build self-esteem and confidence in preparation for GCSE exams. planning differentiated resources and further encouraging students to feel comfortable to ask for individual support, guiding students to manage their studies by independently devising their own revision timetable, and attend after school revision sessions with mentor.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

Impact of research is evidenced through teacher peer observations of using strategies to improve engagement and learning outcomes. Also, student interviews that revealed further strategies which were implemented, and students fed back as successful at motivating them to engage with the learning. For example, use of praise and reward cards home, and instant phone calls when class learning outcomes had improved.

Summary if impact so far

To summarise, although there have been clear signs of improvement to self-esteem and attitude, students developed limited independence. For example, when attempting exam responses independently in exam conditions, they relied heavily on support and encouragement. The impact on their self-esteem and attitude to their own success has increased. Working with other students as a whole has improved, and also their attitude towards staff.

Recognise lack of progress can come from a lack of self-esteem and belief in own abilities. Boys sometimes have a fear of failure and can self-sabotage. Impact of strategies may have been greater if students have been identified earlier.

 

Inspiring Disadvantaged Learners – Research 2017-18

English Teacher Rachael Davison looked at how we she could inspire disadvantaged learners in her English lessons. This is her summary of her project.

Research Question

How can increased communication positively impact on disadvantaged students’ engagement and progress?

Method

  • Increased one to one and small group conversations with disadvantaged students about their understanding of the learning, their progress etc. during and outside of lessons.
  • An increased number of postcards and phone calls home.
  • Setting students catch up work to complete independently following absence or at least one to one/small group discussion regarding what the class have covered when students have been absent.
  • Student participation in every lesson – disadvantaged students always questioned, invited to share their learning, their used for teacher modelling of self/peer assessment etc.
  • Increased verbal feedback during the lesson so students receive instant feedback that they can respond to in the lesson.

Summary of what you did to adapt your practice

  • Disadvantaged students are always selected to answer questions, to share their learning, read out loud etc. throughout the lesson.
  • I have adapted my practice by ensuring that these students receive clear and focused verbal feedback alongside lots of praise and encouragement within the lesson and not just written in their books during a marking cycle.
  • I have tried to catch up/meet with the students following a period of absence so that they know what they have missed in class. I have also tried to engage the students in taking ownership of the missed work by giving them tasks to complete at home.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

  • Observations of students’ engagement in lessons (engagement in tasks and motivation to achieve), summative assessment outcomes, discussions with the students themselves and their feedback.

Summary of impact so far.

Make students more accountable for the learning they miss due to absence (or discuss what has been missed): give students tasks to complete at home to catch up.

Provide disadvantaged students with regular verbal feedback opportunities throughout lessons.

Increase the number of postcards sent home, phone calls home, sending copies of completed work home.

Increased student participation in every lesson – all disadvantaged students answering questions, sharing work, responding to others’ ideas etc.

Use disadvantaged students’ books on the visualiser to model peer/self-marking – the students get instant quality feedback from their peers and the teacher.

Motivating Boys Research 2017/18

We have included examples of the research carried out by staff last year looking at improving the performance of boys.

Teaching Assistant Rhonda Lawry-Griffiths carried out the following research with the aim of identifying ways of removing the gender gap in English lessons. This is her review.

Research Question

Will the use of visual stimuli help to sustain and increase motivation in boys?

Method

Use of visual prompts to help engage interest in lessons, eg students drawing, computer images and maps.

Summary of what you did to adapt your  practice.

Use of visual stimuli wherever possible in lessons.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

Accelerated reader testing was used for Year 7 students. A staff peer debrief was used to reflect and evaluate at the end of the research project. Discussions were held with students that were in the class.

Summary of the impact so far

The Year 7 students, especially the boys, were more willing to share plot summaries from previous lessons. They were able to recall main events from the material and read more carefully, confidently and accurately. Where a map was used to plot countries from a story-line the boys eagerly participated.

Performance of Boys Research 2017/18

We have included examples of the research carried out by staff last year looking at improving the performance of boys.

Technology teacher Tris Rogers carried out the following research with the aim of identifying ways of removing the gender gap in performance. This is his review.

Research Question     

Does using regular testing and feedback raise performance?

Method

Regular weekly testing, peer or self assessment and feedback. Time given for students to make corrections.

Summary of what you did to adapt your practice

Students were given a spelling test of key words once a week; there has been no expectation of practice or revision at home. The same words but in a different order were repeated approximately four times or until a noticeable improvement was seen in the results, at this point new words were added to the bank of words which they were expected to know. Students marked their own or peers’ work and then had to make corrections before moving on to the main lesson task.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

Results of the test were recorded on a spreadsheet, which was shown to pupils. It was colour coded to show any increase or decrease in performance which makes it easier to see from the back of the class. It is also a quick and simple way to reward Vivos (behaviour points) for consistency or improvements from their previous results.

Teaching assistants and a technology technician have all commented on the way the pupils have taken to the regular tests and often remind me when it’s test day.

Summary of Impact so far

There is a definite pattern showing improvement for most pupils, in a class of 25 there were two who showed little improvement or drops in results if given a week or two off. Retention of knowledge for most was good and even after a ‘break’ the results were still showing improvements over the original data.

 


 

Removing the Gender Gap

One of the priority areas that we identified as a school was the performance of boys compared to girls. This in itself is not uncommon and one that many schools face. In the academic year 2017 – 2918 many staff carried at action research projects to identify strategies that would work in Tor Bridge High to improve the boys performance and bring in inline withe the girls.

The action research leads for this area are Chris Langmead (Head of English) and Andy Lyon (Head of Art).

This is not a simple problem, whilst there is a gender gap it is not found in every subject at Tor Bridge High,  additionally when looking at the national research it is not as simple as saying that boys underperform compared to girls. The largest gender gap in the UK is found between boys and girls designated as ‘white working class’.

As a group of professionals we had to look at our own practice and consider if we were challenging negative stereotypes in education or reinforcing them.

Some of the ‘common thinking’ you currently find in education in the UK at the moment can be summarised as follows;

‘Boys are programmed to be destructive, boorish and rebellious’,

‘Boys underachieve nationally’,

‘Boys like competition and rewards’,

‘Boys don’t like school’,

‘Boys don’t show their feelings’.

We wanted to look at these again and see what could make a difference in out school. Through the action research projects we have come up with what we feel makes a difference in reducing the gender gap in Tor Bridge High.

What makes a difference?

  • High expectations of boys; in their approach towards learning and their outcomes.
  • Developing boys use of subject specific language.
  • Positive relationships based on clear boundaries and consistency.
  • Regular testing and feedback with opportunities to reflect and improve.
  • Raising the self-esteem of boys.

What did people do?

The following are some of the action research areas that staff carried out, the findings of these eventually lead to the list above.

  • Use of extra-curricular activities to boost boys engagement in learning.
  • Developing positive relationships in the classroom.
  • Use of visual stimuli to support engagement and learning.
  • Use of rewards and short term goals.
  • Explicit teaching of command words for examinations.
  • Focussing on boys’ presentation of work.
  • Use of skills based tests.
  • Exploring the role of mentoring in developing boys’ engagement.
  • Use of seating plans.
  • Developing use of technology and apps in improving homework engagement.
  • Use of competitions and rewards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links to Research

This is a list of online research starting points, this is a great place to start to look at what current research exists in each of our priority areas.

National research organisations.

Education Endowment Foundation funds and evaluates research into many areas in education and publishes the results on the teacher toolkit.

National education Trust collates knowledge and expertise to support innovation and good practice in the classroom.

Education Datalab these carry out research for policy makers but also work with schools to help them use data to adapt their practice.

The Institute for Effective Education based at the University of York, this is a charity that works with schools to improve the quality of teaching. They also produce a best evidence in Brief fortnightly newsletter which is emailed out if you sign up.

Sutton Trust a foundation that aims ti improve social mobility through evidence based research, programs and policy.

Blog Sites

Evidence Based Educational Leadership this blog focuses on the leadership and management of Evidence Based Education – including Action Research projects. It provides a really good ‘reality check’ for what works … and significantly – what doesn’t work  – in terms of implementation.

The Super Blog Database of research already conducted by teacher researchers in schools in the UK and across the globe.

Class Teaching This blog shows one school’s (or MAT’s!) approach to Evidence Based Practice and Action Research. They are undeniably much, much further down the road than we are … but their resources may help to shape how we can move forward.

Overcoming Prejudices to the Benefit of Students – Blogpost by John Tomsett, Headteacher in York and review of Making Good Progress?: The future of Assessment for Learning by Daisy Christodoulou 

Review of the OECD paper ‘Academic resilience’ – excellent study on what works for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/orderly-classrooms-benefit-the-most-disadvantaged-children/

Twitter – some people to follow…

@acethattest – The Learning Scientists blog is a treasure chest of ideas and resources presented by leading cognitive psychological scientists. The FAQ section is a good starting point for Action Research ideas.

@suttontrust – updates from the Sutton Trust.

@edudatalab – regular updates from the Educational Datalab.

@marcrowland – wrote an excellent book on pupil premium and works for Rosendale Research School.

 

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑