Thursday, 15 January 2015

Our Second Meeting

I met with the student researchers today for the second time. We briefly discussed what they thought about the literature review that I provided them with, although not all of them had completed it. We were able to talk about what they thought about feedback, and I was able to discuss some of my initial findings based on their pre-test questionnaire (more of which I will discuss in detail in a later post). One thing that we all found interesting was that all of them ranked grades as more useful than written comments, which goes against what the literature says is most effective. When I asked them to explain why they felt this way, they said grades provide them with a 'starting point' so that they can see exactly where they are, consult the criteria for the grade above, and make the appropriate changes. 

They also suggested that grades made it easier to compare themselves against other students, which I had assumed (and the literature also suggests) would cause negative feelings; often we're told to discourage students from comparing themselves to others. However, when I asked them to clarify what they meant by comparison, they were quite articulate in describing how they would go to someone with a higher grade for help and guidance, opposed to asking the teacher for an explanation. This is something that I found quite interesting, and would like to perhaps discuss again later.

I pushed them a bit further, and asked them about whether or not the grades ever made them feel bad about themselves. However, they (on the whole) didn't associate negative feelings with grades (which, again, the literature suggests they DO). Overall, the students were interested in exploring their own thoughts, and the thoughts of other students further, against what the literature on feedback says, which is promising regarding their engagement with the rest of the project.

I then showed them a draft of the questionnaire that I planned to use with Year 11 and Year 8 students to gauge their baseline feelings regarding feedback. They were extremely helpful in helping me to re-write some of the questions so that they were more student friendly. We also discussed whether some of the open questions were too 'difficult' for Year 8 students. My initial thoughts were to keep the questionnaire the same for both year groups, but I allowed the students to develop their own thoughts on the idea of having a different, more 'difficult', questionnaire for the older students and an easier one for the younger students. Eventually, they came to the conclusion (fairly unaided by myself) that we shouldn't underestimate the Year 8 students, and that their responses could be 'interesting'. I was very pleased that they came to this conclusion, because it showed that they were starting to think about the ethical implications of using two different questionnaires. 

We then discussed how we would distribute the questionnaire. The students suggested that I compile packs for form groups, which they would then deliver personally during our next meeting slot. They decided as a group that they would speak to individual form tutors first, to let them know what the questionnaire is for, in the hopes that this will encourage form tutors to chase up completion of the questionnaire. They decided to then speak to the entire form, stating that they have chosen random students to complete the questionnaire, and that it's really important that the questions be answered as truthfully as possible. We also discussed how ethical this was, with students suggesting that the students who received the questionnaire might feel singled out, while those who didn't might feel left out... I'm still debating whether or not I issue the questionnaire to ALL Year 11 and 8 students, but then I feel it would move too far away from my focus on PP students. We agreed as a group that it shouldn't be too unethical to single out the PP students, considering that's the aim of our study. They felt that a de-brief with the students, where they explain why they were chosen, might help solve the ethical dilemma. This may be something that we follow up with! 

Overall, it was a really productive meeting, and I've already gleaned some really interesting tidbits from what we've gathered and discussed so far.