An Investigation Into Grouping Practices and Educational Trajectories Within a Year One Classroom

Kitto, Eleanor (2015). An Investigation Into Grouping Practices and Educational Trajectories Within a Year One Classroom. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f00b

Abstract

My research aimed to investigate learning in context by exploring the experiences of Year One children (aged 5 and 6 years old) within a single form entry Primary School in Sussex. The research uses an ethnographic case study approach and applies socio-cultural theoretical perspectives to attempt to understand some of the multifaceted influences that construct the cultural practices within the Year One class, with a particular focus on grouping practices and the repercussions of the children's differing experiences for acculturation within the school and the school system.

The data were collected over one academic year and comprised of documentation, field notes, a research diary, semi-structured interviews and classroom observations using video recording equipment. The ethnographic case study approach and data collection techniques were designed to accumulate detailed data which represented the cultural context, the individuals within it and their interactions during the class activities.

The research explores conceptions of 'ability' within the school and considers how the children's familiarity with school based practices and linguistic competences act to construct interpretations of their 'ability' which potentially enhances, or constrains, participation in school activity. The research foregrounds six focus children to explore their experiences, activity and interactions within the class, to construct an analysis of the class activity at different levels of social or cultural interaction and explicate some of the interplay between each, to attempt to understand learning in context.

The main themes from the analysis focus on notable differences between child-to-child interactions, adult-to-child interactions and learning opportunities across each of the 'ability' groups. The research considers how notions of ability act to structure children's experiences and subsequently influence identities, impact upon future activity and perpetuate inequalities.

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