Don't Group Students Based on Ability
According to new research published today in the Cambridge Journal of Education, the students who are slow learners will fall back further. Teachers' expectations of pupils in lower sets, which are based on their prior academic record and closely tied to the belief that their behaviour will be more challenging, could instill a damaging 'culture of dependency' on teachers among these groups.
The researchers found that 70% of studied teachers modified their teaching methods to match students' prior attainment. Students in lower sets typically faced a reduced curriculum based on more structural, repetitive tasks, and more one-to-one time with teachers. Teachers of these pupils were often reluctant to risk overstretching them by teaching overly complex content.
Dr Anna Mazenod from the UCL Institute of Education in the UK, (also author of the article) explains: "Our findings suggest that secondary school students in the so-called bottom sets may be unintentionally encouraged to remain more dependent on their teachers in comparison with their peers in higher sets.
"Teachers tend to perceive bottom-set students as more 'dependent learners', and may not build in scope to allow for students to develop their independent learning skills. This can hinder students in making the most of learning opportunities in their ongoing education, as independence is a key component of successful learning.
"From a social justice perspective, our findings raise the concern that such approaches could impede an independent learner identity being a goal for all students."
The study also proves that this kind of grouping harms the child's self confidence too.
(Source: Cambridge Journal of Education)