Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wanted! Pioneers to trial a new platform for teachers: professional development through small-scale research inquiry

March 13, 2015



Exciting CPD opportunity for coaches and practitioners: February 25th 2015 at Bilborough College

January 28, 2015

Exciting CPD opportunity for coaches and practitioners: February 25th 2015 at Bilborough College


Exciting CPD opportunity for coaches and practitioners

The CPD event is open to all educational professionals from across the sectors, secondary and FE/SFC.

ATL members and non-members are able to attend the CPD afternoon for FREE!

Attendees can arrive at Bilborough College from 11.50 am for registration and light refreshments. The first session will run from 12.50 PM – 14.20 PM and the second session will run from 14.30 PM – 16.00 PM.

I am presenting workshops on stretch and challenge and embedding English so hope to see you there.

Joanne Miles

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Measuring Determinants of Post-Compulsory Participation in Science

January 25, 2015

Homer (2014) researched post-compulsory participation in science and science related subjects in light of recent policy developments.  The researchers believe that the ‘lower status’ applied science results will be removed for 14-16 year olds and students will be strongly encouraged to study for the Triple Award.  This will have an impact on provision at Derby College, which the science team need to intently consider and adapt their provision and probably marketing strategy for.

Homer, M., Ryder, J. & Banner, I. (2014) Measuring determinants of post-compulsory participation in science: a comparative study using national data. British Educational Research Journal, 40, 610–636.

Teacher–Student Interpersonal Relationships Change and Affect Academic Motivation

January 25, 2015

Maulana (2014) researched changes in teacher–student interpersonal relationships, in relation to academic motivation.  The research highlighted the importance of these high quality teacher-student relationships, which were positively correlated with learner motivation, over time and consequently achievement.  N.B. this research is ethnocentric, based in Indonesia and many of the findings contradict those from western cultures.  The cross-cultural finding in the journal, both in Maulana’s research and those they cite, indicates the vital importance of identifying the subculture between the learners and each teacher, and they build up the rules and rapport appropriately. Controlled motivation is likely to be vital for transitions students who may have emotional and behavioural issues and ESOL learners where there is likely to be a power distance between the teacher and student.  The research shows that high-ability students’ autonomous academic motivation is vulnerable to a rapid decline. This is likely to apply to our A Level physics, chemistry and maths learners etc.

Maulana, R., Opdenakker, M., & Bosker, R. (2014) Teacher–student interpersonal relationships do change and affect academic motivation: A multilevel growth curve modelling.  British Journal of Educational Psychology, Volume 84, 459-482.

The Link between Academic Self-Schemas, Motivational Goals, Learning Approaches and Achievement

January 25, 2015

Ng (2014) carried out a longitudinal study of year 10 Australian learners, investigating the ‘self-congruence engagement hypothesis’, which proposes that there is a relationship between the perception of students’ academic ‘self’, achievement goals, learning approaches, learning attitudes and achievement levels in learning mathematics.

Two hypotheses regarding the idea of self-engagement congruence using a person-centred approach were researched and supported:

H1 – students holding a specific academic self-schema will maintain a pattern of engagement and achievement in line with their specific self-conception over time.

H2 – a change in academic self-schemas will be associated with a corresponding shift in learners’ engagement an achievement patterns.

Self-schemas are understood as learners’ cognitive generalisations of their selves based upon prior learning experiences, which significantly affect their cognitive, affective and behavioural responses in learning, all of which significantly impact on their achievement.

The research showed that learners with a positive academic self-schema have a positive affect and engagement pattern in relation to their learning.  In contrast, students with a negative academic self-schema engage in avoidance self-preserving avoidance behaviours and their achievement levels lower.  Low levels of engagement and subsequent low achievement further cements the learners’ self-beliefs.

Application to support learners to value the importance of the subject/topic, enjoy learning it, have high self-efficacy and can see clear links between the subject/topic and their future.

Personal coaches and teachers must understand the functioning properties of learners’ self-image in relation to their learning and achievement.

Learners may have developed an academic self-schema that is creating fear in relation to a particular subject(s) or part of their programme. Learners at Derby College who have not had a positive prior learning experience of maths and/or English spring to mind.  This academic identity could be reinforced by the learners being grouped with learners who’ve had a similar underachievement patterns and subsequently being ‘held back’ a level in their wider studies.  It is advised that personal coaches dedicate time to developing learners’ growth mindsets: specifically challenge negative aspects of the learners’ academic self-schema by focusing on the facts that are incongruent with their negative beliefs, which they are likely to be ignoring.  The personal coaches could encourage learners to create a learning self-image, after such a discussion or activity with clear SMART targets to address the negative aspects.

Teachers ensure that aspects of the learners’ programme, which are likely to create negative affect e.g. fear and demotivate learners, are presented sensitively.  Teachers make explicit links between the ‘taught’ knowledge and skills, and the learners’ career aspirations etc.  Teachers should use, and encourage in the learners, mastery-orientated reasoning e.g. enjoyment, interest etc. and avoid extrinsic reasons e.g. course requirements. Functional maths and English teachers should record learners’ aspirations on the ‘Derby College Group Profile’ and ensure that teaching, learning and assessment activities are embrace these opportunities to make these links for the learners and reengage with a favourable attitude to the topics, so the learning of them becomes important to all the learners, leading to better achievement.  The teacher may create an activity for learners to create a clear understanding of the value of the subject/part of programme for their future selves.  For example, a wall display including positive adjectives about each learner in the class; past learners who now work in the field; celebrity business people, hairdressers, chefs etc.

It is important the teachers provide appropriate challenge, which avoids learners making repeated failures, without making assessments too easy.  Regular low or no stakes testing, which overtly shows the learner how they are progressing, in line with their targets and formative feedback will help to facilitate the learning process and reshape negative academic self-schemas.

SMART target setting support is vital for learners with negative academic self-schemas. These learners are unlikely to act upon the feedback given and engage in next steps learning plans and engage in unhelpful coping mechanism instead.  If they are simply asked to write a plan of action it is likely to be superficial.  Teachers must invest in providing personalised feedback to the learners, which includes clear ‘next steps’ for the learner.  Teachers should create supportive activities which force the learners to engage with their individual feedback and their subsequent action should be monitored.  Getting this right will help learners to reduce their ‘self-handicapping’ behaviours; reframe their cognitions about their learning ability; become effective, motivated learners and achieve success.

Ng, C.  (2014)   Examining the self-congruent engagement hypothesis: the link between academic self-schemas, motivational goals, learning approaches and achievement within an academic year.  Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 34,  731-762.

How blended is blended? (and other knotty questions about blended learning)

January 22, 2015

Sam Shepherd

For my research project this year, I’ve been reading up on blended learning, making notes, and generally carefully reviewing it in a measured and analytical tone elsewhere. As an adjunct to that formal enquiry, and to help me get my thoughts in order, I thought I would start to summarise my informal reflections here. Later on, perhaps, a version of this, or even a direct link to this, may form part of the finished product, but I’m not sure how much I want to make that explicit a link between who I am outside of my workplace and who I am within it. Regardless of how easy it is for someone to make those links, my conscious segregation of my online self from my “at work” self serves to highlight the usual “opinions expressed not those of employer” caveat.

So anyway, the focus of my project is blended learning, in…

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Fast Feedback

November 8, 2014

Belmont Teach

Our first Magic Monday kicked off at lunchtime with a “Pedagogy Picnic”.  I drew the short straw had the honour of kicking things off first, with a 7 minute presentation on “Fast Feedback“.  Here’s a summary of my presentation.

Fast Feedback

The impact of feedback in raising attainment has been well documented by academics such as Dylan Wiliam, John Hattie and more recently by the Sutton Trust Education Endowment Foundation in their Toolkit findings.  Written feedback can be a time consuming task though and the purpose of this presentation was to try to pull together a variety of methods that could speed up feedback, without compromising the quality of it.  I wanted to share a range of strategies, rather than focus in more detail on a few.  A case of breadth, rather than depth initially.

Dylan Wiliam has said that feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor.  With this…

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Risk; Resilience; Reward!

September 12, 2013

Take a second before you read on: close your eyes and imagine what you would do if you knew you could not fail?

I firmly believe that risk underpins all success; measured risks should be viewed as investments, which are highly likely to generate a significant learning return.  Have you noticed that on TV game shows/competitions, how frequently we hear the host exclaim “it’s a risk, will it pay off?’ and later to the winner ‘you took a risk and it paid off, this time’.  Both of which are followed by further questioning to discover why.  Isn’t this exactly what we want for our learners; for them to take a risk, which they can justify and great learning can follow.  After a similar chain of events in the Great British Bake Off’s technical challenge last week, Mary Berry retorted:  “I have never thought of doing that; it worked; I’m going to give it a go”.  In a nutshell: a measured risk led to success, reward and learning beyond the individual.

So, why don’t we take more risks when a possible outcome is great success?  Can you recall avoiding taking action, for example not applying for a job or answering a question publicly because your self-efficacy was low due to the probability of non-success?  We are more likely to label this outcome as FAILURE.  What does that conjure up in your mind and how does that feel?  Uncomfortable?  This feeling is as a result of an innate, adaptive biological response, which is governed by brain regions and neurochemicals.  This physiological response is designed to protect us and keep us safe.  Well, at least for the short term, maybe, but long term it is likely to be limiting and even damaging.  Consider: where do the safe options lead us and importantly how would they restrict our learners?  Certainly amongst the list would be low expectations, low aspirations, poor retention and underachievement.  We need to take more risks in our teaching and develop the resilience of our learners to empower them to take risks for success.


A measured risk may read as an oxymoron but there is clearly a bipolar scale: starting at zero – only taking action, which is certain to result in safety, through to 10 – thoughtless behaviour with no idea of the result.  So, I would assert that the measured risk is the grey area in between.  I often repeat Geoff Petty’s phrase ‘common practice is often not best practice’.  We are very skilled at what we do, so it usually yields the results that we are pleased with.  This does translate to the highest possible outcomes!  Playing it safe may feel comfortable; we know what to expect, we have most of the questions anticipated, the answers prepared, with some entertaining anecdotes (that make us smile), ensconced with a plethora of high quality resources, to boot!

So, let’s dip our toes into the risky zone.  The bad news is that for a short while it may not elicit the outcome that you usually get, let alone immediate success and may even go completely pear-shaped when things happen which you hadn’t anticipated.   Naturally, this may leave us feeling vulnerable and frustrated, even more so during an observation or a learning walk, we may even feel shame.  Please stick with me on this; don’t throw the towel in (or your trowel)!  The good news is that with practice, you will quickly become skilled with this new teaching strategy.

This year’s hot learning strategies are a great place to start because there is an array of research that provides strong evidence that it will be successful with an above average effect size.  In other words, it is likely to yield results, which outperform other strategies.  

More good news:  with the support you are entitled to access, you can gain personalised guidance and become skilled even faster.  This support includes: ‘learning hubs’, coaching, peer observations, developmental observations, ‘open surgeries’, online forums and more!  

I would encourage you to go on your own learning walks too!  Next time you have non-contact time, why not take a wander around and see how other people are teaching and learning.  You will be amazed what you can learn, in such a short time, and how empowering it can be. The best news is that your risks will be supported and I can assure you that you will not be lambasted if things do not go to plan. Indeed, your measured risk-taking will be celebrated!  Furthermore, it would be great if you could share what you are trialling via Twitter @DerbyCollegeLearning, or keep a blog, or if you prefer email me directly.  

So, in short: take measured risks! New strategies based on scientific research will produce greater success than ever before and it is safe!  Your risk-taking will generate success that will be celebrated.  

I promise that we will offer you support all the way.  


Children’s brains continue to develop areas required for emotional intelligence until they are approximately 20!  Now, can you recall a time when you didn’t answer the question because you were afraid that you may be wrong, which would lead to feelings of embarrassment, which is linked to shame?  

Remember how uncomfortable you felt and the relief that followed when someone else answered it.  Or perhaps you were the person who answered. if so, remember the look of relief on the other people’s faces, as their averted eyed suddenly brightened and their confident, furious nodding began to indicate they concurred with the respondent.  We are emotionally intelligent adults, so you can imagine how exacerbated our students’ feelings become when they cannot rationalise in the same way or cope with a possible failure.  Yet we delight in them taking the risk of answering a question when they are unsure of the answer, especially when they know they may be wrong!  We know (and hopefully, so do our learners) that when they reveal a wrong answer, their misunderstanding can be explored and their learning can be accelerated, often as a result of further questioning.  We need them to empower our learners to take this risk for great success to be achieved.  

High expectation is a vital element of outstanding progress and achievement; yet again this involves huge risks. Imagine a learner applying for their dream job or place at a red brick university.  They will have been told how competitive it is to achieve success in their application and chosen profession.   So, isn’t it safer to set their sights lower?  Of course it is safer in the short term but in the long term the effects of this can be quite damaging; resulting in low aspiration, boredom, regret and shame.  

A plethora of rigorous scientific research demonstrates that these outcomes can lead to a range of vulnerabilities: mental health disorders, engaging in offending behaviour and even lower life expectancy.  Therefore, a key ingredient for success is taking time to develop our learners holistically, developing their emotional intelligence, particularly their resilience with dealing with failures.  This will empower our learners to stop avoiding stressful situations but to practise coping strategies, which over time will develop into habits for positive well-being.  

The neural connections in the brain, which control fear, reward and emotional regulation, will become established, allowing new messages to transmit.  This will result in emotional regulation; positive cognitions and resilient behaviours to be learnt and over time to become automatic responses to stressors.  (Southwick & Charney, 2012).  Ultimately, this will result in the capacity to modulate the stress response, reducing the uncomfortable feelings, discussed earlier.

Recent research that was presented to the British Educational Research Association demonstrated that there is a significant negative correlation between worry and exam performance.  Students who worry are at risk of performing badly in exams.  Prior attainment was controlled for and shown not to be a confounding variable.  The difference in performance between a worrier and a student with greater task-focused coping could be a difference of three grades!

So, go on, try something new with your learners tomorrow and give us feedback about how it goes.  

I look forward to hearing how it went. Please, do not fear if it does not go quite to plan because I have every faith that, given time, by taking risks and learning from the mistakes that you will hit upon something rather special, changing your learners’ perceptions of what taking a risk can mean when it achieves such knowledge and understanding.

“Persistant people begin their success where others end in failure.” Edward Eggleston

Flip Learning

July 18, 2013

Flip Learning

An example of a flip learning activity that I designed to engage A2 students with their Eating Disorders topic during their A Level Psychology.

Using allows you to flip a YouTube clip, create open and closed questions with clear instructions and a discussion forum.  Take a look, have a go.

A great resource for encouraging independent learning prior to a lesson!

History students visit Derby College

July 18, 2013

History students visit Derby College

High tea in the Engine Shed Restaurant.