Baumfield, V.M., Hall, E., Higgins, S. & Wall, K. (2009). Catalytic tools: understanding the interaction of enquiry and feedback in teachers’ learning. European Journal of Teacher Education 32(4): 423-435.
- This paper reports on a three-year collaborative practitioner enquiry project involving more than 30 primary and secondary schools in England.
- The data set includes practitioners’ case studies, interviews, questionnaires and cross-project analysis completed by the university team.
- Analysis focuses on the role of feedback, stimulated through the use of Pupil Views Templates (PVT), in teachers’ learning through three dimensions:
- the influence of student feedback on teachers as part of the pedagogical encounter;
- the influence of student feedback on schools within the context of the practitioner enquiry projects;
- the influence of feedback on the lead teacher researchers.
- Links between the tools used, the source of the feedback, and teachers’ learning are mapped from a ‘second order perspective’ derived from the diverse data sources.
The purpose of tools
- The significance of tools for enquiry for the development of metacognitive pedagogy is supported by systematic reviews of research into the impact of thinking skills approaches on teachers and students (Higgins et al. 2004, 2005).
- Tools, as technologies have been designed to make a particular activity different: faster, slower, richer, more focused, more efficient, more sustained.
- Tools change or re-shape the semiotic frame for an activity (Bosch and Chevallard 1999; Wall and Higgins 2006).
- Tools are part of the implicit learning of a professional culture, since they frame practice and thus practice develops as new tools and technologies facilitate or enforce change (Hickman 1990).
- Tools can generate the kinds of dissonance and questioning, the multi- layered, ever-expanding exploration of meaning in a particular learning interaction.
The Learning to Learn (L2L) project
- Teachers in the project were introduced to a set of desirable learning dispositions (readiness, resourcefulness, resilience, remembering and reflectiveness) developed in Phases 1 and 2 of L2L and known as the ‘5Rs’ (Rodd 2001, 2002).
- They were required to work in pairs or small teams to undertake a classroom based investigation into an aspect of ‘learning to learn’, in terms of one or more of the 5Rs, as appropriate to their own context.
- Within L2L, teachers use a variety of pedagogical strategies to focus on different aspects of the 5Rs but there is a common interest in making the processes and intentions of work in the classroom explicit.
- The overarching focus on learning processes and metacognition (Moseley et al. 2005; Veenman, Elshout, and Meijer 1997) has meant that, in spite of the diversity of individual inquiries, some unifying themes have emerged across the project and one of the most powerful of these has been the role of feedback (Hattie 2005).
- The Pupil View Templates (PVT) was one of the tools used in the project developed by the university team to elicit and record students’ awareness of their own learning.
- The Pupil View Template (PVT) is an example of the metacognitive tools developed to enable feedback to be used productively both in the here-and-now of the classroom interaction and reflectively within the enquiry cycle.
- The key idea is that pupils can be asked, using a cartoon representation, to reflect on their thinking regarding different aspects of their experience. The speech bubble and the thought bubble on the template means that there is an automatic prompt for the pupil to talk about what they are thinking.
- Teacher testimony suggests that the use of such tools stimulates their understanding of their own professional learning.
- The classroom interactions engendered and supported by the use of tools not only make learning more explicit and accessible to the learner but also enable teachers to move beyond surface detail as the process of teaching is opened up to critical enquiry.
- The engagement with enquiry into student learning developed into a more sustained enquiry into pedagogy, their own professional learning and in due course, interest in educational research.
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Reference: Baumfield, V.M., Hall, E., Higgins, S. & Wall, K. (2009). Catalytic tools: understanding the interaction of enquiry and feedback in teachers’ learning. European Journal of Teacher Education 32(4): 423-435. Retrieved from http://www.ncl.ac.uk/cflat/news/documents/915888615.pdf