Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: An investigation into the experiences of pupils in ability and mixed ability grouping in an independent secondary girls’ school
Authors: Row, Madeline Elizabeth
Advisors: Koshy, V
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: The focus of this research was an exploration of pupils’ perceptions of their experiences in mixed ability and ability grouped lessons within a selective independent girls’ secondary school in West London, which presents the case study for the research. Previous research into ability and mixed ability grouping has shown the area to be contentious, leading to different outcomes and recommendations. Also, there is limited research into this area within independent schools and looking at a range of curriculum areas, and these were the unique contributions that this study made. For this Case Study research, data was gathered using questionnaires and focus groups. A total of 260 girls across years 8-11 (aged 12-16) completed a Likert scale questionnaire, which was analysed using the Software Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). A paired samples t-test was completed, which allowed comparisons to be made between responses given by participants in the curriculum subjects of Science, Modern Foreign Languages, English and Physical Education. Four focus groups were carried out, involving 24 girls across all four year groups, with six from each year group. Using a coding process the data from the focus groups was analysed and four key themes and categories were identified. With the use of content analysis it was possible for the frequency of phrases, categories, and comments to be identified and calculated. Three key findings were obtained; first, that ability grouping can create pressure on pupils with regard to maintaining a standard or creating a fear of being moved down; however some pupils reacted in a positive way to this pressure. The second key finding linked to ability grouping was the advantage gained from being able to work with others of the same ability, allowing for tasks and the pace of the lesson to be pitched at the right level. Third, mixed ability grouping allowed pupils to feel more relaxed and confident; however there were instances where pupils reported that they felt anxious about trying to keep up with others or feeling frustrated about having to wait for others to catch up. The results are discussed in relation to existing literature and recommendations are made, including; the benefits of creating a positive learning environment, the importance of reducing anxieties and pressures about being in the top sets, including having transparency with the system of ability grouping, and specifically for this Case Study school the potential to begin ability grouping earlier within Science. The findings should be useful to practitioners, as well as those in the Case Study school, to inform the principles and practices for organising groupings in order to create a positive learning experience for pupils. This research adds to the body of knowledge that already exists regarding ability grouping, and offered a new contribution with the insights from an independent secondary school and looking at a range of curriculum subject areas. The findings were equivocal, with both positives and negatives identified for mixed ability groupings and ability groupings in different curriculum subject areas.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University London.
Appears in Collections:Education
Dept of Education Theses

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
FulltextThesis.pdf3.79 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in BURA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.