THE CLASS AS A GROUP: theoretical and pedagogical implications of groupwork in the classroom

Baar-Kooji, Hiltje Johanna (2020) THE CLASS AS A GROUP: theoretical and pedagogical implications of groupwork in the classroom. Doctoral thesis (EdD), University of Sussex.

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The purposes of this study were to investigate 1) the perceived discrepancy between the social skills outcomes in the pupil-monitoring system and what is experienced by teachers, pupils or parents in the classroom, 2) to understand the role of the group on behaviours experienced by teachers as difficult or problematic, 3) to investigate what understandings teachers have of the concept of group in education, and 4) to assess the effectiveness of groupwork interventions in the classroom.
Over a period of 3 academic years, four groups in four different mainstream primary schools in the Netherlands were investigated. Each group experienced similar problems even though their size, location, ethnicity, socio-economic background of the parents or the composition of the group differed. All groups participated in this study for the duration of 5 till 12 weeks, to investigate whether using groupwork skills and knowledge would affect the problems related to the social behaviour they experienced in the classroom.
The approach included modelling groupwork skills and involving the group in the problem-solving process, using the experiential learning cycle for the pupils and the action-research cycle for their teachers. It also involved collaborative evaluation. Examples are pupils and teacher(s) reflecting together on their progress after each intervention, or between me and the teachers in reviewing data and emerging findings. The main data were derived from qualitative micro analysis of the videos that were made throughout this study, and are supported by direct observations of the activities, logbooks and statements made by pupils and teachers, and emails.
The study concludes that three factors, namely approaching a class as a group, involving the group in the problem-solving process, and using groupwork skills and techniques in group discussions, contribute to the aspirations of the teachers, the pupils and their parents, the school, and in the end to reaching the attainment targets for the social obligation of education. Being able to share thoughts, feelings and emotions about real, actual problems and conflicts in the ‘here-and-now’ enabled pupils to develop ways of thinking and talking, essential for gaining problem-solving skills and dealing with differences of opinion.
Teachers need to appreciate that children’s thinking and reasoning differ from adults’. Therefore, teachers have to learn new skills in facilitating the development of their pupils’ social skills as opposed to teaching what is socially expected of them. Gaining knowledge about group dynamics and group development would benefit teachers in the classroom not only in reaching their attainment targets for social skills education, but also in dealing with behaviours in the classroom they experience as being difficult.
Furthermore, this study concludes that the currently deployed tools for measuring the outcomes of the social skills education do not sufficiently capture what needs to be assessed due for example to assumptions about language and interpretations, the discrepancy between internalized and integrated behaviours, or the impact of pupils’ paralinguistic language on others.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: social obligation of (primary) education, groupwork, teacher training, action research, experiential learning, citizenship.
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1025 Teaching (Principles and practice)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050.9 Educational psychology > LB1060 Learning
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary education
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2020 14:43
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2020 14:52

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