NP3 outcomes related to RQ4

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RQ1 findings RQ2 findings RQ3 findings RQ4 findings RQ5 findings Executive summary Meta-analysis report

RQ4 - What are the consequences of the answers to RQs 1-3 for learning in terms of social justice, and across and within subject domains?

RQ4 was concerned with consequences of the answers to the previous research questions for learning in terms of social justice, and across subject domains.

This analysis focussed primarily on differences in ICT use: across subjects; with children labelled as having different ‘abilities’; and in relation to gender.

Whilst there was insufficient data to look in detail at social justice issues related to the socio-economic status of children, it was apparent from the data outside school that there was no definitive link between socio-economic status and children’s access to devices, access to the internet or use of ICT. Whilst some children’s families did not have internet access because of the cost, other children’s access was prevented or severely curtailed by family routines or rules (Section 6). Thus, the assumption that socio-economic status determines ICT access at home may need to be re-examined.

It was clear that there was scope for ICT to be used effectively across subjects, but that the perceived nature of the subject, the view of knowledge, strongly influenced how ICT was used in practice. It was evident that ICT use had greater impact (or potential to impact) on what and how children were taught where subjects were perceived to be less ‘fact based’ and ‘procedural’, such as in history and music, compared with maths.

Much of the ICT use in English and Maths provided opportunities for ‘drill and practice’ types of learning, which supported the development of children’s ability to meet national curriculum requirements.

In English ICT was used in a variety of ways to enhance writing where the writing itself was or could have been changed by use of ICT.

Not only did ICT provide new forms of composition, but it also offered powerful opportunities to scaffold and stimulate writing. This included providing a real audience, for example through the use of blogs, and the use of rich immersive worlds that can elicit strong emotive engagement in children.

In maths, ICT provided the possibility for children to articulate, share and co-construct understandings of particular mathematical methods, for example using Explain Everything. There were examples in maths of teachers trying to increase children’s independence through providing access to video clips that explain various aspects of mathematics.

Teachers need to be confident in the use of software and aware of the pedagogical reason for choosing to use ICT in a particular way with a particular group of children. It was apparent that teachers need to be alert to the possibility that the children’s purposes do not align with their own, which could result in children’s learning taking an unexpected direction or the children not learning what the teacher had hoped.

Not all of the study schools grouped children by ‘ability’. Where this did happen the data suggested that there were differences in the both the amount and nature of ICT use for children depending upon which ‘ability group’ they were in. Children in ‘lower ability’ groups often seemed to have less opportunity to use ICT than children labelled as ‘high ability’. Children in ‘lower ability’ groups also seemed to spend a higher proportion of their time using ICT doing ‘drill and practice’ activities. Those labelled ‘more able’ seemed more likely to be allowed to work more independently and on richer tasks that offered more scope for children to be agentive, collaborative, co-creators of knowledge. This provision of learning opportunities for more ‘highly attaining’ children was not only an issue in KS2, where practice might be expected to be most severely effected by Key Stage 2 SATs, but was also evident in Key Stage 1.

In relation to gender equity, it is important not to treat girls and boys in binary terms or as homogenous groups, and to recognise how gender is mediated by other factors such as ethnicity or social class. However, there were some patterns of ICT use at home in these data that teachers need to be aware of in order to consider ways in which their pedagogy can be inclusive and does not lead to or perpetuate gender-based inequities in children’s use of ICT, development and learning. These patterns include:

  • the ways in which children engage with games at home and the learning that accrues;
  • the different patterns of communication on-line and the impact of this for children’s language;
  • and the platforms and apps which children become skilled at using.

ICT use within the classroom needs to take into account of whether or not certain software is of more interest to particular groups of children, and teachers also need to be aware of research into the impact of particular uses of ICT (e.g. IWBs) and gender-based patterns of interaction.

See Section 10 of the meta-analysis report for more details of the findings in relation to RQ4.

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