Introduction. as “some techniques are better suited to students

Pedagogy is the theory and practice of teaching, or the ‘science, craft and art
of teaching’ (Pollard, A, 2010), (Loughran, J, 2006). Learning is most
effective when teaching implements a wide variety of techniques and strategies
that are tailored to meet each pupil’s individual needs and requirements. For
educational practice there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach for students’
learning and progress. Pedagogical strategies, therefore, need to be combined
and ‘mixed’ to suit different situations, learning styles and learning
outcomes, 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 pedagogical
strategy is most effective and has the biggest impact on pupil learning, especially
as “some techniques are better suited to students from certain backgrounds,
learning styles and abilities” (Bhowmik et al, 2013, p01). Therefore, this assessment
will focus specifically on assessment for learning within the Secondary
Education 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 theories
of learning within this concept. “‘Pedagogy’
is the practice of teaching, framed and informed by a shared and structured
body of knowledge. This knowledge comprises experience, evidence, understanding
moral purpose and shared transparent values.” (Pollard, A, 2010, p5). A
teacher’s focus should be towards ‘mastering’ the expertise, this is an ongoing
process as there is no set amount of knowledge for teaching. Teaching and
learning are linked and one cannot happen without the other. The purpose of
teaching is to positively influence learning, however, the two are so closely
connected that learning also has an effect on the teaching process. Students
should be engaged and have their learning influenced through the implementation
of effective and well planned teaching, however, if learning is not occurring
or progress is limited, approaches must be adapted and suited to students, to
ensure learning is taking place, thus, influencing the teaching process
(Loughran, J, 2006). Learning and progress occurs every day through trial and
error of practice, observation of students’ requirements and dealing with
unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, teachers should be self-aware of their own
learning and practice and how it can improve, they should be able and willing
to examine and assess their own practice, as well as the practice of others,
against relevant theories, values and evidence (Pollard, A, 2010).

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Teaching strategies, actions and decisions are influenced by the pupils, if an
approach is not working in a lesson or with a particular group of students, it
must be adapted to ensure pupil’s understanding and progress is developed, not
hindered. Each student learns differently and at varying speeds, therefore, it
is vital that teaching practitioners take into account relevant theories of
learning and have a good understanding of their students, as well as their
specific requirements, backgrounds and personal interests. The ‘science’ of
teaching is as Pollard states, education professionals making tactical
decisions 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 the
demands of the classroom or working area, teachers are also required to make
spontaneous judgements and choices. The unplanned decisions made, along with
the teacher’s relationship with students; the positive environments they create
for learning and finally, the ability to utilise opportunities for unexpected
learning, 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 education
sector (Cicchelli, T, 1983). Teacher-centred pedagogy is usually described as
the teacher taking control and responsibility for passing knowledge to students
and developing their understanding of concepts. Due to the various processes
and experiences education professionals participate in, including initial
teacher training, where individuals develop their knowledge and skills of
teaching and learn how to effectively apply these in professional practice
(Loughran, J, 2006,). Along with, ongoing progression; evaluation of own
performance; classroom enquiry and structured practice, teachers are seen to
have a greater expertise over subject knowledge and are therefore, in the best
position 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 lectures
as the main medium of how information is transferred to students. The lecture
method is assumed to be a one-sided process in which the teacher provides
information and explains areas from their own knowledge, while students are
passive and receive the content, rather than the teacher structuring lessons
around questions students might have, in order to extend on their learning and
develop their understanding (Mascolo, M. F, 2009). This approach may be viewed
as ineffective as only teaching is occurring, there is no opportunity for
students to demonstrate learning. This is vital as pedagogy is not just the
process of transferring knowledge to students, it is also dependent on the
relationship between teaching and learning and how when used in unison they
result in increased knowledge and understanding (Loughran, J, 2006).

In contrast, student-centred pedagogy is based on the ‘model’ of an active
student, from this theory’s perspective, the students are responsible for their
own 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 and
information, as well as constructive feedback and encouragement to extend and
improve on their work. They should not limit students’ responses by asking
closed questions that require simple recall answers, and should instead ask open-ended
questions that could warrant a diversity of answers (James, M, 2006). This
gives teachers the opening to take full advantage of unexpected learning
opportunities, by explaining and expanding knowledge that was not initially
planned for the lesson. By extending questioning and challenging views or
outcomes that might usually be overlooked, it allows learners to be open-minded
and consider new and differing insights, this process enables students to
improve in their learning and develop their understanding (Loughran, J, 2006,).

The teacher’s duty is to present pupils with relevant examples of the information
they are learning, in order to fill in gaps of knowledge and provide them with
a better understanding of the concepts. Their purpose is also to encourage
students to review and summarise the objectives of the lesson and draw their
own conclusions of the activity. Finally, teachers should encourage students to
explore new activities and decide on different topics of study. The student has
the 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 when
described in this way, however, in order for this theory to be effective,
pupils need to recognise the importance of education and make independent choices
to be successful. For example, by taking full advantage of feedback and
implementing it in order to improve, being accountable for their approach to learning
and using independent thinking to come to their own conclusions and construct
their own views (Ko, J, 2016). However, this approach may be ineffective in an
environment where students may not understand or care about the importance of
education and where they may not have the opportunities, or receive the support
required to achieve. If students are under-achieving and require additional
support, letting them be responsible for how they complete tasks and what they
want to study may be detrimental to their learning and progress.

Student-centred pedagogy can be traced back to Constructivist
developmental theories (Kolb, D.A., 1984; DeVries, R & Kohlberg, L., 1987;
Fosnot, C. T & Perry, R. S, 2005). Within Constructivist theories, students
are builders of their own cognitive tools and ‘what goes on in pupil’s heads’ determines
the course and structure of lessons. Their focus is on how students constantly make
sense of information and how they construct and reconstruct meaning through
organising structures, concepts, experiences and values (Piaget, J &
Inhelder, B, 1997), (Papert, S 1980), (Ben-Ari, M, 2001). Constructivism views
a student’s existing education as a strong indicator of their ability to absorb
and retain new knowledge, they also put importance on ensuring understanding
and addressing misconceptions to confirm and extend learning. Student
achievement from a Constructivist viewpoint is determined by a students’
ability to organise information and retrieve it quickly, to understand theories
and to process strategies. Therefore, they view the role of the teacher as one
that aids students in developing these skills and helping them progress their
level of understanding (James, M, 2006), (Ben-Ari, M, 2001). With importance
placed 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 being
necessary to encourage students’ thinking. For example, through the use of specific
language and key words, open-ended questions, discussions and brainstorming, in
order to build on their existing knowledge and give them the opportunity to
apply these ideas and strategies in practice. In this context, teaching and
assessment are used together to achieve the goal of learning, especially
filling in student’s gaps in knowledge and understanding (James, M, 2006),
(Jones, C. A, 2005).

Behaviourist theories believe that pupil’s learning and progress is
determined by the environment they are taught in, more specifically, that
students learn best individually or as part of a group with similar ability
levels. They view the use of praise and punishment as effective methods of
forming desirable behaviours and eliminating bad habits. Behaviourist theories
have the opinion that complex tasks are made easier to achieve when they are ‘broken
down’ into sections, these sections are then practised, ‘mastered’ and extended
upon (Muijs, D & Reynolds, D, 2017), (James, M, 2006), (Shepard, L. A, 1991).
These theories have their limitations as they do not feel human consciousness
is required to explain learning and are only interested in behaviours
demonstrated by students. Therefore, student’s achievement in learning is
equated with their ability to absorb and retain a variety of skills and
information, as well as their ability to memorise facts. Performance is usually
interpreted as right or wrong and underachievement is resolved by further
practice, or by taking skills and content back to basics to ensure learning and
progress (James, M, 2006).

Social Constructivist theories believe that learning is most effective
when students interact with their social environment. Thinking occurs through
actions that change the situation and the situation changes the thinking,
Social Constructivist theories believe that these two concepts constantly work
together to be most effective. Language is the primary medium in which we think
and these theories perceive language to be developed in interactions with other
individuals. Vygotsky, L.S (1978) states that social relationships are required
for, and precede, learning. Therefore, learning can be defined as a social
activity that requires individuals working together to develop their thinking
as a group. From this viewpoint, the term ‘two heads are better than one’ is a
viable statement, learning happens through collaboration with others, for
example, discussing and sharing ideas with a group. The information shared and
learned in this process belongs to the social group as a whole, and the
collective knowledge of the group is considered to be more effective than a sole
individuals’. Social Constructivist theories see these social interactions as a
way that individuals develop their own identity, this involves the student
being an influence on a group and in turn, being influenced by a group they are
working within (James, M, 2006). Students are also influenced by the teacher’s
behaviours and values, and the more these are demonstrated in practice, the
more likely students are to develop their own. Therefore, the social
interactions between teachers and pupils is vital as identity construction and
personal progress combine to ‘shape the nature of pedagogy itself’ (Loughran,
J, 2006, p2). ‘These theories provide interesting descriptions and explanations
of learning in communities of practice but newer research is not yet developed
enough in terms of their effects for teaching and assessment, particularly the
latter and especially in school contexts’ (James, M, 2006, p10).

Social Constructivist theories believe education professionals are duty bound
to create a learning environment where students are provided with ‘stimuli’ to
think about and challenging tasks to complete. Students should be supplied with
tasks that they cannot complete independently, and rather activities that
require some help and guidance from an expert, in order to build on the
student’s current level of knowledge and understanding. Tasks require a
collaborative learning experience between teachers and students, where students
are actively involved in identifying problems and solutions. “Teachers and
students work together to solve problems and all develop their skill and
understanding” (James, M, 2006, p11). This is a vast contrast to the
teacher-centred approach in which teachers supply information to passive
students, without any collaboration or extension of learning taking place (Mascolo,
M. F, 2009).