Introduction.Pedagogy is the theory and practice of teaching, or the ‘science, craft and artof teaching’ (Pollard, A, 2010), (Loughran, J, 2006). Learning is mosteffective when teaching implements a wide variety of techniques and strategiesthat are tailored to meet each pupil’s individual needs and requirements. Foreducational practice there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach for students’learning and progress. Pedagogical strategies, therefore, need to be combinedand ‘mixed’ to suit different situations, learning styles and learningoutcomes, to allow for maximum progress to be made by students in their education(Bhowmik, M., Banerjee, B.
, Banerjee, J. 2013, p1), (Joyce, B & Weil, M.1986). As teachers often ‘blend’ teaching strategies and approaches (Jane, M.2006) and use them in unison, it may be difficult to assess which pedagogicalstrategy is most effective and has the biggest impact on pupil learning, especiallyas “some techniques are better suited to students from certain backgrounds,learning styles and abilities” (Bhowmik et al, 2013, p01). Therefore, this assessmentwill focus specifically on assessment for learning within the SecondaryEducation phase and evaluate its potential impact on student learning.
What is Pedagogy?In order to recognise how pedagogical strategies impact students’learning, individuals must first have an understanding of ‘pedagogy’ and theoriesof learning within this concept. “‘Pedagogy’is the practice of teaching, framed and informed by a shared and structuredbody of knowledge. This knowledge comprises experience, evidence, understandingmoral purpose and shared transparent values.” (Pollard, A, 2010, p5).
Ateacher’s focus should be towards ‘mastering’ the expertise, this is an ongoingprocess as there is no set amount of knowledge for teaching. Teaching andlearning are linked and one cannot happen without the other. The purpose ofteaching is to positively influence learning, however, the two are so closelyconnected that learning also has an effect on the teaching process. Studentsshould be engaged and have their learning influenced through the implementationof effective and well planned teaching, however, if learning is not occurringor progress is limited, approaches must be adapted and suited to students, toensure learning is taking place, thus, influencing the teaching process(Loughran, J, 2006). Learning and progress occurs every day through trial anderror of practice, observation of students’ requirements and dealing withunforeseen circumstances.
Therefore, teachers should be self-aware of their ownlearning and practice and how it can improve, they should be able and willingto examine and assess their own practice, as well as the practice of others,against relevant theories, values and evidence (Pollard, A, 2010). Teaching strategies, actions and decisions are influenced by the pupils, if anapproach is not working in a lesson or with a particular group of students, itmust be adapted to ensure pupil’s understanding and progress is developed, nothindered. Each student learns differently and at varying speeds, therefore, itis vital that teaching practitioners take into account relevant theories oflearning and have a good understanding of their students, as well as theirspecific requirements, backgrounds and personal interests. The ‘science’ ofteaching is as Pollard states, education professionals making tacticaldecisions based on what is observed during a lesson or over a period of time,in order to ensure effective learning is taking place. However, due to thedemands of the classroom or working area, teachers are also required to makespontaneous judgements and choices.
The unplanned decisions made, along withthe teacher’s relationship with students; the positive environments they createfor learning and finally, the ability to utilise opportunities for unexpectedlearning, are the ‘craft’ and ‘art’ of pedagogy (Pollard, A, 2010). Theories of learning.A lot of research has been conducted over the differences between”teacher-centred” and “student-centred” pedagogy within the secondary educationsector (Cicchelli, T, 1983). Teacher-centred pedagogy is usually described asthe teacher taking control and responsibility for passing knowledge to studentsand developing their understanding of concepts. Due to the various processesand experiences education professionals participate in, including initialteacher training, where individuals develop their knowledge and skills ofteaching and learn how to effectively apply these in professional practice(Loughran, J, 2006,). Along with, ongoing progression; evaluation of ownperformance; classroom enquiry and structured practice, teachers are seen tohave a greater expertise over subject knowledge and are therefore, in the bestposition to decide the structure and information delivered in lessons (Pollard,A, 2010), (Mascolo, M. F, 2009).
Teacher-centred pedagogy is often understood to implement the use of lecturesas the main medium of how information is transferred to students. The lecturemethod is assumed to be a one-sided process in which the teacher providesinformation and explains areas from their own knowledge, while students arepassive and receive the content, rather than the teacher structuring lessonsaround questions students might have, in order to extend on their learning anddevelop their understanding (Mascolo, M. F, 2009). This approach may be viewedas ineffective as only teaching is occurring, there is no opportunity forstudents to demonstrate learning. This is vital as pedagogy is not just theprocess of transferring knowledge to students, it is also dependent on therelationship between teaching and learning and how when used in unison theyresult in increased knowledge and understanding (Loughran, J, 2006).In contrast, student-centred pedagogy is based on the ‘model’ of an activestudent, from this theory’s perspective, the students are responsible for theirown education, while teachers are there to facilitate learning (Mascolo, M.
F,2009. The teacher’s role is to aid students by giving them the content andinformation, as well as constructive feedback and encouragement to extend andimprove on their work. They should not limit students’ responses by askingclosed questions that require simple recall answers, and should instead ask open-endedquestions that could warrant a diversity of answers (James, M, 2006). Thisgives teachers the opening to take full advantage of unexpected learningopportunities, by explaining and expanding knowledge that was not initiallyplanned for the lesson.
By extending questioning and challenging views oroutcomes that might usually be overlooked, it allows learners to be open-mindedand consider new and differing insights, this process enables students toimprove in their learning and develop their understanding (Loughran, J, 2006,).The teacher’s duty is to present pupils with relevant examples of the informationthey are learning, in order to fill in gaps of knowledge and provide them witha better understanding of the concepts. Their purpose is also to encouragestudents to review and summarise the objectives of the lesson and draw theirown conclusions of the activity.
Finally, teachers should encourage students toexplore new activities and decide on different topics of study. The student hasthe sole role of showing their readiness to move forwards in their learning (Hancock,D. R., Bray M & Nason, S. A, 2003).
This theory seems effective whendescribed in this way, however, in order for this theory to be effective,pupils need to recognise the importance of education and make independent choicesto be successful. For example, by taking full advantage of feedback andimplementing it in order to improve, being accountable for their approach to learningand using independent thinking to come to their own conclusions and constructtheir own views (Ko, J, 2016). However, this approach may be ineffective in anenvironment where students may not understand or care about the importance ofeducation and where they may not have the opportunities, or receive the supportrequired to achieve.
If students are under-achieving and require additionalsupport, letting them be responsible for how they complete tasks and what theywant to study may be detrimental to their learning and progress.Student-centred pedagogy can be traced back to Constructivistdevelopmental theories (Kolb, D.A., 1984; DeVries, R & Kohlberg, L.
, 1987;Fosnot, C. T & Perry, R. S, 2005). Within Constructivist theories, studentsare builders of their own cognitive tools and ‘what goes on in pupil’s heads’ determinesthe course and structure of lessons. Their focus is on how students constantly makesense of information and how they construct and reconstruct meaning throughorganising structures, concepts, experiences and values (Piaget, J &Inhelder, B, 1997), (Papert, S 1980), (Ben-Ari, M, 2001). Constructivism viewsa student’s existing education as a strong indicator of their ability to absorband retain new knowledge, they also put importance on ensuring understandingand addressing misconceptions to confirm and extend learning. Studentachievement from a Constructivist viewpoint is determined by a students’ability to organise information and retrieve it quickly, to understand theoriesand to process strategies. Therefore, they view the role of the teacher as onethat aids students in developing these skills and helping them progress theirlevel of understanding (James, M, 2006), (Ben-Ari, M, 2001).
With importanceplaced on a student’s prior learning as an influence on their new learning,formative assessments play a vital role in pedagogic practice due to it beingnecessary to encourage students’ thinking. For example, through the use of specificlanguage and key words, open-ended questions, discussions and brainstorming, inorder to build on their existing knowledge and give them the opportunity toapply these ideas and strategies in practice. In this context, teaching andassessment are used together to achieve the goal of learning, especiallyfilling in student’s gaps in knowledge and understanding (James, M, 2006),(Jones, C. A, 2005).Behaviourist theories believe that pupil’s learning and progress isdetermined by the environment they are taught in, more specifically, thatstudents learn best individually or as part of a group with similar abilitylevels. They view the use of praise and punishment as effective methods offorming desirable behaviours and eliminating bad habits.
Behaviourist theorieshave the opinion that complex tasks are made easier to achieve when they are ‘brokendown’ into sections, these sections are then practised, ‘mastered’ and extendedupon (Muijs, D & Reynolds, D, 2017), (James, M, 2006), (Shepard, L. A, 1991).These theories have their limitations as they do not feel human consciousnessis required to explain learning and are only interested in behavioursdemonstrated by students.
Therefore, student’s achievement in learning isequated with their ability to absorb and retain a variety of skills andinformation, as well as their ability to memorise facts. Performance is usuallyinterpreted as right or wrong and underachievement is resolved by furtherpractice, or by taking skills and content back to basics to ensure learning andprogress (James, M, 2006). Social Constructivist theories believe that learning is most effectivewhen students interact with their social environment. Thinking occurs throughactions that change the situation and the situation changes the thinking,Social Constructivist theories believe that these two concepts constantly worktogether to be most effective.
Language is the primary medium in which we thinkand these theories perceive language to be developed in interactions with otherindividuals. Vygotsky, L.S (1978) states that social relationships are requiredfor, and precede, learning. Therefore, learning can be defined as a socialactivity that requires individuals working together to develop their thinkingas a group.
From this viewpoint, the term ‘two heads are better than one’ is aviable statement, learning happens through collaboration with others, forexample, discussing and sharing ideas with a group. The information shared andlearned in this process belongs to the social group as a whole, and thecollective knowledge of the group is considered to be more effective than a soleindividuals’. Social Constructivist theories see these social interactions as away that individuals develop their own identity, this involves the studentbeing an influence on a group and in turn, being influenced by a group they areworking within (James, M, 2006). Students are also influenced by the teacher’sbehaviours and values, and the more these are demonstrated in practice, themore likely students are to develop their own. Therefore, the socialinteractions between teachers and pupils is vital as identity construction andpersonal progress combine to ‘shape the nature of pedagogy itself’ (Loughran,J, 2006, p2). ‘These theories provide interesting descriptions and explanationsof learning in communities of practice but newer research is not yet developedenough in terms of their effects for teaching and assessment, particularly thelatter and especially in school contexts’ (James, M, 2006, p10). Social Constructivist theories believe education professionals are duty boundto create a learning environment where students are provided with ‘stimuli’ tothink about and challenging tasks to complete. Students should be supplied withtasks that they cannot complete independently, and rather activities thatrequire some help and guidance from an expert, in order to build on thestudent’s current level of knowledge and understanding.
Tasks require acollaborative learning experience between teachers and students, where studentsare actively involved in identifying problems and solutions. “Teachers andstudents work together to solve problems and all develop their skill andunderstanding” (James, M, 2006, p11). This is a vast contrast to theteacher-centred approach in which teachers supply information to passivestudents, without any collaboration or extension of learning taking place (Mascolo,M. F, 2009).