Becoming and Being 'People Like Us': A Study of Students Who Experience Difficulties With Literacy in National Curriculum History at Key Stage 3

Davies, Sandra Daredri (2008). Becoming and Being 'People Like Us': A Study of Students Who Experience Difficulties With Literacy in National Curriculum History at Key Stage 3. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f284

Abstract

My study considers a group of students who experience difficulties with literacy and investigates the factors, at the levels of the social order, the arena of school and the settings within it, which either fostered or hindered their participation and therefore their learning in the history classroom at Key Stage 3. My research is set within a sociocultural framework which emphasises the importance of collaborative learning and considers that factors, not only within settings in the classroom but also those outside, impact on participation and contribute to the construction of identity. A sociocultural framework invites certain research tools such as case studies and comparative methods.

I undertook a study at two different levels, that of the Humanities Faculty but also of each student. This took the form of a longitudinal study over a two year period when the students were in mixed ability groupings in Year 8 and setted groupings in Year 9. I undertook the study in this way to investigate not only the moment by moment interpersonal action, but also the development of identity over time. Methods used on the research in both years included questionnaires, classroom observation and semi-structured interviews using a projective technique ‘Talking Stones’ to provide rich data on interpersonal interaction and intrapersonal reflections on this.

The study indicated that factors which affect participation and learning are multilayered and difficult to separate. These factors include financial factors at government level outside the arena of school, the demands of the curriculum as imposed from outside and how it is interpreted within the arena of school, pedagogy and practice of teachers, the attitude of peers in the classroom and wider arena of school and the sources of a subject (in this case History) to which the students are exposed outside school.

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