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School of Education An evaluation of the collaboration between Mathematics and Science ITE tutors in developing teaching strategies to support their students with M level writing Maarten Tas and Sue Forsythe www. le. ac. uk
Overview • Introduction • Aim • Extra support for Mathematics and Science PGCE Students (UA 1 and UA 2) • Methods • Results • Conclusions • Recommendations
Introduction In 2007 -2008 the proportion of Mathematics and Science PGCE students at the University of Leicester being successful in writing assignments at Masters level was worryingly lower than the whole cohort of Secondary PGCE students. In 2008 -2009 an extra programme of support for Mathematics and Science was put in place, in particular peer assessment of a synopsis for the second assignment, resulting in a much higher percentage. Subject No. of students achieving Masters 2007 -2008 -2009 126/152 (83%) 131/142 (92%) Mathematics 5/11 (45%) 14/19 (74%) Science 22/38 (59%) 28/34 (82%) All secondary PGCE subjects
Aim for 2009 -10 • For the Mathematics and Science Tutors to work collaboratively supporting the Mathematics and Science Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) students at the University of Leicester, leading to an even higher proportion gaining Masters level credits.
Extra support for Mathematics and Science PGCE Students (assignment 1 – UA 1) Support for Mathematics students Support for Science students Subject session on writing a practice assignment, Harvard style of referencing and introducing a mark scheme Critical Review Library session Peer marking the practice assignment Session on structuring assignment and marking exemplar assignments using level descriptors and mark scheme Peer conversation following on from the peer marking Twilight session with tutor in December University tutor feedback on the practice Session with university student assignment support staff on writing skills Peer conversations about the assignment in December
Title: Extra support for Mathematics and Science PGCE Students (UA 2) Peer assessment of the synopsis and tutor feedback using the following framework: Content Introduction Focus Why questions What questions How questions Outline of some learning and teaching strategies Literature To be added Not needed Other comments
Methods • Questionnaire after submitting UA 1: – Mathematics n=29 – Science n=37 • Questionnaire after the support session for UA 2, comparing the attitudes of current students and cohorts from the previous year: – 2008 -2009 Mathematics and Science n=33 – 2009 -2010 Mathematics and Science n=41 • Interviews with PGCE students – Mathematics n=4 – Science n=6
Student feedback on the support for UA 1 • The Mathematics and Science students received different forms of support and therefore the questionnaires addressed different foci. • However, through this collaboration clear needs and direction can be identified.
Mathematics Results of questionnaire on support for UA 1 n=29 Support strategy Helpful Not helpful Subject session on writing the assignment 27 2 Writing the practice assignment Whole course session on writing the assignment 27 11 2 18 Seeing the markscheme Marking the practice assignment of another student 27 22 2 7 Getting oral feedback from another student on your practice assignment University tutor feedback on the practice assignment 18 11 26 3 Exemplar assignments on Blackboard 20 10 The peer conversations about the assignment 15 14 Help from university tutor 26 3
Some issues raised by the Mathematic students: • Wanted more tutor feedback on practice assignments • There was not enough advice on how to structure the assignment • Wanted more direct input on locating research material
Science Results of questionnaire on support for UA 1 n=37 Support strategy Helpful Not helpful Whole course session 1 Research/writing at Masters level Whole course session 2 in mixed groups 19 18 17 20 Critical Review Library session 27 10 Session on structuring assignment and marking exemplar assignments using level descriptors 37 0 Twilight session with tutor in December 31 6 Session with student support staff (individual and/or group work) Exemplar Assignments and other info on VLE 11 0 33 4 Handbook for Writing Assignments 32 5 Individual support from tutor 37 0
Some issues raised by the Science students • Twilight session; good to know others were in the same boat • Whole course session needs to be optional (2) • Did not ask for any individual tutor support • Handbook; more detail needed for requirement at each level • Some kind of feedback on draft assignment would be helpful to know whether on track (2) • One-on-one very useful, but needed more
Suggestions for further support (Science) Extra tutorial in small groups n=16 Marking more Peer marking a practice exemplar assignment (to check the assignments using referencing and academic the marking criteria writing for Social Sciences) and level descriptors n=8 n=13 An extra workshop Opportunity to read Other suggestions: on professional the work of your -Time management seminar writing in TDC peers -Extra individual tutorials n=0 n=11
• I didn’t find this assignment aided my teaching in any way and provided lots of stress and extra work at a time when all I wanted to focus on was my classroom persona and ability to teach This is a comment by a student; How do we address this and make it relevant to their training?
Conclusions • Sessions in subject specific groups are more valued than the whole course sessions • Individual support from tutor is more valued than support from peers • Students need more training for being peer assessors • Writing and assessment of the practice assignment in Mathematics was successful • A session on structuring the assignment and marking exemplar assignments using level descriptors in Science was successful • The Mathematics and Science students identified needs which were fulfilled in the support strategies in the other subject.
Recommendations for UA 1 support in 2010 -2011 • Session 1: – On the structure of an M level assignment, including referencing; – The marking of exemplar assignments using the mark scheme and level descriptors; – Homework to write a practice assignment. • Session 2: – Peer review of the practice assignments on Assessment for Learning (Af. L) • Session 3: – Students bring in a one page draft (either written or diagrammatic) for Learning Conversations in small groups • Individual tutorials
Support for UA 2 Results of questionnaire on verbal and written feedback on the synopsis by fellow students. YES Was this feedback worthwhile in your opinion? NO 2008 -9 85 15 2009 -10 80 20
Results of questionnaire on verbal and written feedback on the synopsis by tutor. YES NO Was this feedback worthwhile in your opinion? 2008 -9 88 12 2009 -10 90 10
Improvements suggested by students • More discussion with more peers (4) • Longer time given to read and assess synopsis (2) • More feedback from course tutor (11) • Do synopsis earlier (2) • More help on understanding grid (2) • Help on how to write a synopsis (6) • Peer marking other’s work who is working on a similar topic (3)
Other support reported useful • • • Blackboard material (4) Support from the librarian (3) Brainstorming ideas in an earlier session (2) Previous assignment feedback (1) Time spent on discussion on requirements (2) Finding another peer who worked on a similar topic (1) Example outline (1) Guidance from handbooks (1) Marking grid (1)
Other issues raised • Peer assessment didn’t give any new ideas (1) • Blind leading the blind for peer assessment (1) • It (peer assessment strategy) brought the assessment into focus which was useful in planning (1) • Good exercise, very useful (peer assessment strategy) (1) • Some good interactive debates would be good (1)
Conclusion • The questionnaire should have focused more on the relevance, perception and ideas about learning conversations rather than asking about the written feedback of the peer-assessment exercise.
The main points raised in the interviews (1) (Mathematics n=4; Science n=6) • Focus: – Students learnt from their experience of writing UA 1 and put this in place for UA 2 – Most students decided earlier on their focus – Having to write the synopsis was helpful • Peer assessment exercise: – Some students said the process was only helpful if the peers they were working with had the skills to be able to give good feedback and ideas – In the Science group it was mentioned that it would be useful to work with peers who write about the same topic
The main points raised in the interviews (2) (Mathematics n=4; Science n=6) • Other support: – The value of the tutor’s input, the help of the university library staff and the marking of exemplar assignments using the mark scheme with level descriptors were mentioned • Suggestions for extra support: – More one-on-one tutorials and unstructured discussion with their peers were mentioned
Discussion • Students need to have good skills for selfassessment and peer-assessment to make learning conversations productive • The developed skills of peer assessment in our students can be transferred to their own classroom teaching and learning environment
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