End of project survey data

Question 11 - Impact of the cluster programme on student outcomes

Areas with identifiable impacts on learning outcomes

Respondents from exiting clusters identified eleven areas with identifiable impacts on learning outcomes:

Overall quotes about impact on students from the survey

Commentary on the results of the survey

Areas with identifiable impacts on learning outcomes

1. Authentic learning contexts

  • The teachers have also become learners. The programmes have become more focused on children’s inquiries. The contexts for learning have become embedded in the "REAL" world of the children.
  • Hands on opportunities for students. Problem solving and authentic contexts for learning.
  • Student learning is integrated with ICT. Their whole learning environment is more engaging and interesting. They use ICT in many different ways. ICT allows for continuous learning as they are always using educational 'games' to support learning.

2. Engagement and motivation

  • A greater number of younger pupils are now engaged with learning through ICT rather than its availability as 'entertainment'. Pupils are thinking about their work in terms of learning rather than 'flash' features.
  • It has helped students keep up with present changes in educational technology and has particularly benefitted enthusiastic students looking for extra ways to enhance their learning.
  • We think students are probably more motivated and with IWB's and slates are definitely more actively involved in their own learning.
  • Certainly items like Photoshop, MIMIOs, IWBs, Wikis are important for engaging students.
  • Much greater student engagement. Obvious use of a wide range of technologies in most classrooms.
  • Student confidence has increased with ICT Student collaboration cross cluster becoming more evident. Opportunity to interact with experts on line.
  • Renewed enthusiasm greater on task behaviour.
  • The cluster involvement has ensured that all pupils at our school have had direct experience in using ICT in their class programme in a meaningful way. The children have indicated their enthusiasm for using ICT and have noted increase in teacher confidence and competence in using it.

3. Information literacy

  • The workshops have given the teachers the confidence to integrate inquiry learning and ICT into daily programmes. ICT is used in maths, reading, for various presentations, to research, to publish work, to access information about class programmes from home through the use of blog pages. Children are confident in using a variety of software and are gaining skills in information processing.
  • The students’ world and vision have been expanded many times over. The quality, understanding and transference of thinking has been amazing. The tap has been opened as teachers are no longer the restrictors of children developing their own ideas and they regularly show teachers what can be achieved.
  • Opportunities to improve information literacy skills; using ICT to explore statistical information as part of the Stats project.
  • Students have a much wider range of resources and skills to gather information, sort, analyse and present learning.

4. Inquiry skills

  • Innovative technology is now used quite extensively as a way of engaging students in challenging and in-depth learning. More students in these schools are being challenged by opportunities to plan an investigation, gather and process information, synthesise and communicate understandings.
  • Considerable growth of skills within the Inquiry focus for children. The opportunity to access a wider range of resources and use reinforcing skills has enhanced this. The growth in confidence is evident through the level of contribution and presentation by children. Willingness to take on higher levels of challenge and share outcomes is identified as growth.
  • Improved understanding of the inquiry process. Improved questioning skills. Higher levels of engagement. Improved understandings through reflection. Greater use of ICT equipment. Greater use of the web.
  • Many schools have changed the way they approach learning by introducing new thinking tools, inquiry models and learning frameworks and these have changed the way students approach their learning and developed their understanding of HOW they learn.

5. Leadership

  • Developing a desire amongst many of our students to learn new skills, to support their peers and staff and to take a lead role within the school and at the conferences they attended as co facilitators.
  • Student experts are great. Student conference is an amazing opportunity.

6. Learning Styles

  • Learning opportunities have diversified and students have recognised and responded to this.
  • Teacher knowledge greater and range of learning experiences offered to students better for supporting learning. New approaches to teaching enhance student engagement and achievement.
  • Our action research projects indicate that teachers changing practise have had positive outcomes for learning.
  • Students’ individual needs met. Variety and depth added to programmes. Opportunities for collaborative work and reflection.
  • In many subject areas it is now routine for teachers to give an option to submit work digitally and in forms other than simply written. Hence there is a greater range of creativity in student responses.
  • Increased use of relevant ICTs has improved engagement in many instances and achievement for some through use of a variety of new strategies to introduce and reinforce concepts e.g. use of digital learning objects, moviemaking etc.
  • Strong Focus on how teachers teach. Increased motivation of students in their own learning. Natural flow in to inquiry learning models. Evidenced through very positive student responses to their learning.
  • More teachers appear to be embracing differentiation in the classroom, allowing their learners to communicate or collaborate with others (students in school, students beyond school, experts).
  • Students learning outcomes have improved with the addition of greater utilisation of student voice and some personalisation of learning through web environments.

7. Oral and Presentation Skills

  • Students have developed greater confidence in oral language through the sharing of their skills and knowledge, presenting their findings to classmates, running assemblies using technology.
  • Quality of oral presentations expressing metacognitive thinking.

8. Ownership of learning and self management

  • Students have been empowered to take ownership of their learning. Increased skills level and application to authentic tasks.
  • Most schools showed that children were taking responsibility for their own learning and sharing their learning.
  • I have seen huge advances in ability to access ICT, embedded use of thinking and inquiry skills throughout the curriculum and a move forward in the self management of learning with our kids.

9. Student Voice

  • Children are beginning to have a voice, and to use ICTs to make their voices heard. Students in the junior school are able to ask deeper questions.

10. Technological Fluency

  • Students from all cluster schools have been exposed to and are developing their use of a wide range of ICT tools, whether it is the introduction of IWB's, pods of laptops, cameras and video equipment. Some schools have been lucky enough to have had technology and multimedia rooms created within their schools and now students are using these to create wonderful work.
  • Students have developed numerous skills, both practical ICT skills/ thinking and information skills.
  • Children are using IT more often for their own learning. We have Digikids who drive much of the Assembly IT.
  • Students have increased knowledge and understanding of ICT. Computers are used more as a resource tool and not just for publishing. Increased online learning being used.

11. Thinking Reflection and Creativity

  • At our cluster expo it was obvious that children had gained much from the cluster programme. Examples of children’s thinking and creation were a major part.
  • Students in all schools have established a common language involving questioning and thinking skills, associated with higher order thinking e.g. Blooms, Habits of Mind. More students are encouraged to reflect on their own learning and this is evident in student blogs - which are slowly seeping into classroom programmes across the cluster.
  • Our focus has been on developing deeper thinking skills within schools of our cluster. This has been confirmed through appraisal and classroom observation by senior management within each school. Students have been observed using language associated with higher order thinking skills, and developing confidence with using a range of assessment tools when reflecting on their own progress.

Overall quotes from survey respondents

Quote one

"This question suffers from the delusion of single explanations - in asking about the impact of the cluster programme on student learning outcomes we imply that the cluster programme is a separate effect on student learning outcomes rather than additive as common sense tells us it must be. It would be better to ask; How much does the impact of the cluster programme overlap with other influences on the learning outcomes for students? How much of any improved student learning outcomes noted over the three years is attributable to the cluster programme and how much is attributable to other factors? BUT in asking this we are vulnerable to another delusion .. for we confuse correlation with causality ... Teacher Pedagogy has changed and, as a result, programmes of work have become more formative and focused on students”

Quote two

“Students report their reading ability and confidence has increased as a result of ICT learning activities in classrooms and data confirms this. Research skills have increased and even younger children are able to access suitable information using ICT's. Online resources can be accessed and shared through the use of teacher's laptops and class data projectors. Thinking skills are integrated across the curriculum and woven throughout with ICTs. Students are choosing to engage in Maths activities available on class computers before school or in spare time.”

Quote three

“This has been huge. Our girls have gained enormous confidence in communication, presentation using a variety of media, a certain degree of inquiry learning (accessing and processing information), developing thinking skills, actual computer literacy, ICT integration throughout the curriculum.”

Commentary on the results from the survey

Overall factors that influenced the impact on student learning

From all of the previous data, it would seem there are a number of factors in cluster programmes which come together to impact on student learning outcomes.
  1. All of the learning community must be involved in the learning: from Principals to teachers to students. Leaders in learning can emerge from any of these groups.
  2. That learning needs to be in context.
  3. The environment for learning is important and the right environment for learning has to be created.
  4. The needs of every person in the learning community are important and must be discovered/uncovered.
  5. Everyone involved in learning needs to understand how/when learning occurs and needs to be able to measure their own learning.
  6. Learning goals need to be set by everyone.
  7. Learning with ICT can be negative or positive, depending on the teacher’s understanding of what makes effective learning, the skill of the teacher with ICT and the way ICT is used.

Alignment with Dr Viviane Robinson's research (Week one reading)

From Robinson’s meta study, five key leadership strategies were identified as having a marked effect size on student learning outcomes:
  1. Establishing goals and expectations - average effect size 0.35
  2. Strategic resourcing - average effect size 0.34
  3. Planning coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum - average effect size 0.42
  4. Promoting and participating in teacher learning and development - average effect size 0.84
  5. Ensuring an orderly and supportive environment - average effect size 0.27

Alignment with the work of Thomas Guskey (Week three reading)

The significance of and rationale for the focus on student learning outcomes is made clear in the work of Thomas Guskey, an expert in research and evaluation. He developed a model with five levels of professional development evaluation. The five levels are:
  1. Participant reactions
  2. Participants learning
  3. Organisation support and change
  4. Participants new use of knowledge and skills and
  5. Student Learning Outcomes

Guskey suggests that levels 4 and 5 of the model are very difficult to accomplish.
“The primary reason is that getting information at those levels must be delayed. Immediately following any professional development activity, I can gather information about levels 1 and 2 – finding out if people liked it and what they gained from that experience in terms of new knowledge and skills. But information on levels three, four and five cannot be gathered at that time. Again planning backwards makes this clearer. If I know what I want to accomplish and what evidence best reflects those goals, it’s easier for me to decide how and when I’m going to gather that evidence and what I will do with it once I have it.”

Guskey’s work is worthy of further consideration in relation to assisting clusters to plan professional development for improved learning outcomes and also in evaluating the professional development itself.