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The experiences of students in junior cycle Emer Smyth, Allison Dunne, Merike Darmody, Selina McCoy.

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Presentation on theme: "The experiences of students in junior cycle Emer Smyth, Allison Dunne, Merike Darmody, Selina McCoy."— Presentation transcript:

1 The experiences of students in junior cycle Emer Smyth, Allison Dunne, Merike Darmody, Selina McCoy

2 Background The first longitudinal study exploring students experiences in Ireland Cohort of 900 students in 12 case-study schools; surveyed and interviewed from first year onwards Information from four time-points Capture student voice

3 Presentation Outline Student experiences in first and second year The Junior Certificate examination: implications for teaching and learning Perceptions of subjects Ability grouping: streaming; subject levels Influences on examination performance Different groups: the impact of gender and social class Issues for policy development

4 First year Significant impact of school transfer But most students settle in quickly What makes a difference? Preparation: realistic expectations Student integration programmes Positive social climate: teachers and students Curriculum continuity Subjects with a practical component

5 Second year Crucial year for student engagement in teaching and learning Emergence of important differences between groups of students: highly engaged v. drifting or disengaged Differences evident in terms of gender, social background and ability group

6 The nature of the third year experience Schoolwork/homework more challenging

7 Being in third year Student: Like in First and Second Year you got no homework and in Third Year you're just getting a whole pile of it. Student: You know what, we came into Third Year just thinking it was like First and Second Year, we hadn't got a clue, because we got it so easy in First and Second Year we just hadn't got a clue what this year was going to be like, and we haven't still like adapted to it. (Girls School, mixed ability class, working class background).

8 Exam focus Student: You used to do fun things in class, theyd come in and say lets play games. If you say it this year, you get like stared at, what do you think you are? Student: It relates to everything, the exams, youre doing your Junior Cert, you shouldnt be talking, youll miss out on stuff. (Middle-class girls school)

9 Distinctive character of third year Exam focus and increased workload Students saw good teaching as: clear explanation, making learning fun and more student involvement But in third year, fewer fun activities and less diverse teaching methods Poorer relations between teachers and students A quarter were taking grinds outside school Dissatisfaction with pace of instruction, also an issue in earlier years

10 Pace of instruction

11 Trends in teacher-student interaction

12 Trends in attitudes to school

13 Subjects in Third Year More positive about subjects with a practical component (PE, Art, MT) Perceived difficulty of languages, and lack of student interest Maths is a particular area of concern Seen as (increasingly) difficult Family help with Maths Grinds in Maths Would like extra help with Maths

14 Streaming Attitudes to school and teachers Pace of instruction Student engagement in schoolwork and homework

15 Subject levels within exam subjects In streamed schools, the subject level was strongly influenced by the base class Lower stream classes usually took subjects at foundation or ordinary level We didnt decide. They told us. They decided for us, we wanted to decide for ourselves like. (Lower stream boys)

16 Number of higher level subjects by ability group

17 Access to subject levels In mixed ability schools, usually a negotiation process between teachers and students But some schools set from early in junior cycle Patterns reflect interaction between school policy, teacher and student expectations

18 Number of higher level subjects by school (second lowest reading quintile)

19 The Junior Certificate Examination Reading and mathematics abilities at the beginning of first year have a very strong association with student performance levels But school and classroom organisation and process can make a crucial difference to how students fare academically

20 School differences in JC grades

21 Junior Certificate Exam Performance Junior Certificate exam grades – cumulative process Very marked effects of streaming

22 Streaming and JC Grades

23 Why impact of streaming? Access to higher level subjects Student and teacher expectations We dont do our homework so we dont get it. Teachers know we dont do it so they dont bother checking it. We dont get homework. We never did get homework. Were sort of the thick class. (Lower/middle streams, coed school)

24 School process at junior cycle Curriculum discontinuity – lack of academic challenge Negative interaction with teachers (esp. from 2 nd year); misbehaviour Academic self-image: capacity to cope with school-work (from 2 nd year) Outside school (social life, part-time work)

25 Student engagement Educational aspirations Time spent on homework in third year Pattern of engagement over the course of junior cycle

26 Gender and Social Class Gender differences in achievement The effect of streaming on male students Male students more likely to misbehave and have negative interactions with teachers Social class and student achievement The effect of streaming Negative interaction between teachers and students increasing more in working-class schools Middle class – schoolwork demanding; working class – patterns of drift and disengagement

27 Issues for Policy Development Within-class differentiation v. streaming – appropriate pace of instruction Impact of exam focus on student engagement (teaching methods) Access to higher level subjects Importance of first and second year experiences for later educational success

28 What can schools do? More flexible approach to ability grouping Promote access to higher level subjects Actively engage students in lessons; diverse teaching methods Positive social climate Positive behaviour policy; student involvement in school life

29 Long-term consequences Access to senior cycle subjects Access to subject levels at senior cycle Engagement in schoolwork and homework Staying in school Post-school opportunities Story to be continued….

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