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National (UK)

Wiltshire Research and Development Fund

Grant Application Form

School Name………………
Tel. No………………………..
E-mail address .....................

1. What is the Focus for your Research investigation? How is this focus concerned with the raising of standards and the quality of teaching and learning?

The focus is 'the dyslexic child as an autonomous learner'. I am interested in enabling the individual skill development as a group of students with learning difficulties move on through Year 8 and into Year 9. One of the main aims of my research in the pilot scheme I ran last year with a small group of dyslexic pupils has been to encourage the student to take responsibility for their own learning and choice of learning method. The student as an autonomous learner, responsible for his or her own learning is one of our school improvement plan targets and we believe that this is the way in which we can raise individual aspirations and subsequently educational standards. I have been in post for a year now and my role is to work alongside other teachers to help them and the student achieve more. Year 8 is an important year leading to the end of Key Stage 3, subject options and national tests. I am keen to begin preparing students for the SATs, which are likely to present them with particular reading problems in a way that will empower them. It is crucial to have dyslexic students taking more responsibility for their progress.

2. What are the anticipated outcomes of this research investigation? Please include outcomes in terms of raising the quality of teaching.

I expect to see progress from the students in the areas of managing potentially difficult situations given their learning disabilities. I am looking for ways of showing them that they have achieved as well as providing data for the school, which shows that my work with the students is having a beneficial effect on their learning. One of the ways I will be showing their progress will be in asking them, using my professional judgment and asking other teachers at stages through our project to report on how if at all they see the students working better with people in terms of communication and citizenship. My research will follow on from the pilot I did last year. Students who took part have requested this programme of eight workshops where they can focus on specific skills:including Developing your memory, Working with mind maps to organize your thoughts and Learning how to organize your paperwork. The crucial element in attendance in the workshops is that students have chosen to be there – they do not have to attend these. Through maintaining an element of choice, I am hoping to enable students to become more self confident in deciding how they can best work in the run up to Year 8 SATs.

3. How will you investigate this issue or problem?

One to one interviews at the start of the project to find out what kind of support each student feels they need so they can learn better. I will ask their other teachers to help me to understand each students’ preferred learning style as well asking students themselves

Monitoring what happens during the workshops by asking for feedback at the end of each one about how useful it has been from the students’ perspectives.

Interviewing other staff who teach the students to gauge if the workshops appear having a positive influence on their behaviour, ability to organise their work and self-confidence. I am hoping that student will improve their levels in the SATs but I am equally keen to see them develop self-assurance.

One to one interviews with students at the end of the project to see if they perceive any beneficial effect on their learning.

Focus group discussion after each workshop to gain an insight into how the workshop has or has not been effective and if possible I will ask the students to give one another feedback after the session about how they are improving.

Individual interviews with key staff to validate students' perceptions.

4. How long do you intend to carry out this research? Please provide a time line.

Initial assessment of students by one to one interview on entry into Year 8.

Jan-Feb workshops and on-going evaluation of their value for students.

One-to-one interviews by Easter to follow up from the initial interviews

Summer term – students/staff evaluation of progress across the workshops.

Interviews with staff who are involved in teaching this group of students.

June/July Look at readiness for transition into Year 9, focusing on academic progress for individuals as well as (maybe more importantly) their motivation

July Consider how similar workshops might be provided on request in Year 9.

July - September - complete analysis of data and create a short research report.

5. Who will provide support for your investigation? How will they provide support?

Colleagues in our school’s Learning Group will provide support by giving me advice, analysing my methodology, monitoring student progress and negotiating appropriate targets and through me with the individual students. I will be undertaking my research during my normal school lessons with Year 8 and the School will provide the opportunity for me to conduct interviews with other staff that teach these students at appropriate times. The Head of Learning and Teaching and three other members of the action research group (to other staff and a colleague from Bath University) will act as critical mentors providing a context for internal validation. External validation from other teachers will reference my research against other initiatives nationally and internationally.

6. How will you effectively monitor and evaluate your research?

I intend to:

* keep a research diary noting down my perceptions of each workshop and using this as a basis for seeking feedback and advice from colleagues.

* tape and where possible video workshop sessions and subsequent feedback.

* invite colleagues to watch sessions and to give me feedback afterwards

* suggest that students tape record their feedback on the effect of the workshops on other aspects of their school life and their general attitude towards it.

7. How do you intend using and disseminating your research findings?

I intend to use my research findings to improve my own teaching of students with dyslexia. The pilot project where I ran workshops last year was the basis for this year’s study and I realise that there needs to be sufficient flexibility in the programme to allow for taking on board students’ and colleagues’ feedback on the format and content of workshops. The evidence I how to share of how enabling pupils to choose how to work and how to maximize their ownership will, I hope, enable other teachers in my school to support students with behavioural problems arising from frustrations of being dyslexic. If our school is successful in the forthcoming NCSL bid to become a LE@RNING centre, I will be advising others about the process as well as the outcomes of my own research.

Through Year 8 Assemblies later in the year I would hope some of the students might talk about practical strategies that work for them in achieve greater success in school. I will be compiling a list of such strategies over the course of the project. These strategies will be based upon my validated research and will introduce alternative approaches for teaching than a top down model of imposed activities, which dyslexic students may reject. This should help them to recognise the position of the student at the centre of the research process, which in turn underpins the development of students as autonomous learners.

Further dissemination could take place through Enquiry Groups where meetings such as through conferences open to Wiltshire schools and others nationally.

I will be talking on a regular basis to colleagues in school and feeding back any evidence of improvement to staff; both during faculty meetings and our designated professional development time where individual staff can talk about how they are working in improving their own and students’ learning. We have a school web site and our Enquiry group plans to create web page to disseminate our research through our intranet. I intend to write up my research into a short report with my mentor’s help where I will set out the context, the process and any outcomes of the enquiry. My report will be published on www.teacherresearch.net for sharing with other teachers nationally and internationally.

8. Are you intending to accredit your work through Higher Education? If so, who will this be and what is the level of accreditation?

This research follows my successful completion of an MA unit called Methods of Educational Enquiry at summer school 2002 at the University of Bath. I have no immediate plans to seek accreditation for this piece of research but I may write it as an Educational Enquiry, (I need to pass 6 units plus a dissertation to acquire an MA at Bath).



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