Individual differences in education perfmance: cultural diversity and gender issues

Friday, September 01, 2006

Strategies for Improving Educational Performance

All of the material below is sourced from Bentham (2002).

Strategies for raising boys' achievement

Noble (1999) reports on a programme started by Kirklees LEA in 1995, which aimed to raise boys' achievement. At that point there was a 12 per cent gap between boys' and girls' attainment levels at GCSE. Since the implementation of the programme the gap has reduced. The programme consists of a three-part plan:

I Raising awareness

  • This involves talking not just with teachers, but with the wider school community to include parents and governors.
  • Boys need to be made aware of the issue of underachievement, but care needs to be taken in regard to how this is communicated. 'Telling boys that they are lazy, semi-literate and disruptive will only strengthen the anti-swot culture rather than challenge it... boys have to feel that it is not like them to under achieve and that it is actually errant male behaviour' (Noble 1999, p. 2).

2 Whole school strategies

  • Endeavouring to make Year 3 and Year 8 a particularly interesting and enriching experience.
  • Reviewing setting arrangements. 'Tight setting tends to depress academic achievements of boys and ethnic minority students' (Noble 1999, p. 2).
  • Emphasising literacy at all levels.
  • Working with parents. Asking some of the parents to work as potential role models for the school. 'Each department could prepare a leaflet describing how parents might use aspects of their environment and everyday life to give subjects relevance for their^ children'(Noble 1999, p. 3).
  • It is of utmost importance to portray the school as a learning environment. Teachers should take a lead role in this. 'How does the staff portray themselves as learners? Do the male teachers and support workers talk about what they have read recently and what they have learned? ... Do teachers see themselves as learning about and from their students; or as sometimes getting it wrong and trying different approaches?' (Noble 1999, p. 3).

3) Classroom strategies

  • Having a seating policy designed to maximise learning.
  • Emphasis on learning styles. 'Engaging boys more by keeping teacher input as brief as possible, and cutting tasks down to small, bite sized chunks' (Noble 1999, p. 3).
  • Adopting co-operative learning techniques such as 'shared writing'. 'Boys and girls like this. It gives them a sense ofresponsibility and the opportunity not merely of reflecting on their own work, but encouraging others also to reflect' (Noble 1999, p. 4).
  • 'Teachers portraying themselves as learners, by asking the class at the end of the lesson when revisiting the learning objectives, how the lesson could have been improved' (Noble 1999, p. 4).

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