A time of change

Mackay, Irene Fraser (2005). A time of change. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d562

Abstract

An investigation of classroom environment factors affecting pupil progress in mathematics during the transition from primary to secondary school

The study took place in North East Scotland, a rural area with diverse industries. The sample of pupils selected for the study was from a small group of primary schools associated with three secondary schools. A number of quantitative and qualitative measures were developed to collect data for the study: a number of mathematical tests to determine the mathematical progress made by pupils between Primary 7 and Secondary I; pupil and teacher questionnaires and an observer's schedule. Perceptions from each of these measures were used to 'describe' the classroom environment. The measures were tested through a pilot study and adjustments made for their use in main research study. Formal and informal interviews with teachers and pupils were also used to provide additional depth to classroom profiles.

The analysis of the quantitative data enabled pupil progress to be confirmed for most sample pupils. It was also possible to identify small groups of pupils who improved and regressed exceptionally. By focusing on these groups, factors affecting exceptional improvement were highlighted. Some of these factors were linked to primary school experience, for example,teacher interest and pupil method of working. The main classroom environment factors affecting pupil progress were pupil perception of performance and a high level of teacher/pupil interaction. Pupil placement in school attainment groupings (sets) was related to pupil progress, mostly regression. No single factor was associated with exceptional regression. The construction of a number of primary and secondary classroom environment profiles showed the strong impact of a highly positive environment on pupil progress.

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