Friday, 30 March 2018

Baseline Data

The target group for my inquiry is my Year 11 Physical Education class. The reason I chose this class is due to student perception that this subject is purely practical and involves no theoretical component. Therefore a lot of practical orientated students opt to take Physical Education due to the hands-on nature they experienced in junior school. Now, the presumption is that practical orientated students have lower literacy levels due to the nature of how they learn. So I wanted to gather some data in regards to literacy levels to see if this was true. The data I could draw on was each student's E-AsTtle writing results from 2017.

From reviewing the snapshot, there is a vast range of writing ability in my class. Writing levels range from 1A to 5P, which is 12 sub-levels. Catering for a vast range of abilities is going to present a challenge, especially if these students are to achieve work at Level 6 of the curriculum. I quickly concluded that there was a problem with writing among my students and something drastic was needed to be implemented if they were to achieve in this subject. 

Friday, 9 March 2018


Meeting as a whanau group to discuss our inquiries allowed us to bounce ideas off each other and compare initial problems. What was beneficial about this process was the common hunches (problems) that colleagues had in their classes. We were able to share these ideas and also hypothesise reasons for these hunches. After leaving the meeting it gave me plenty to think about. I had clearly identified problems in my Year 11 Physical Education that were common among other staff. But I really wanted to dive deeper and explore reasons for why these were identified as problems.

Hunches I found in my Year 11 Physical Education class:

  1. Low Self-efficacy
  2. Lack of engagement in set tasks
  3. Low Literacy 
  4. Low Attendance

These were common problems that majority of teachers had in their classrooms. However, like I mentioned earlier I wanted to explore why these were problems for our students.

I hypothesise a couple of points that I see as the reason for the hunches in my class. Firstly, a lot of these students have continuously struggled with their writing throughout their schooling years. They have been below the national average for many years and have had teachers constantly trying to catch them up to the appropriate level. However, without the support structures in place to help cater for these students, they tend to slip through the cracks and get left behind. They have to deal with set-back after set-back and this dents their confidence in their writing. After numerous set-backs students lose faith in their ability to perform the task and give up.   

Secondly, their is a culture created in our community that the bare minimum is enough. Students tend to think that writing a couple of sentences is enough for them to achieve. Where this culture has been established is beyond me, but seems to be prominent among our students. If we compare it to Bloom's Taxonomy, students are comfortable using the bottom tier when it comes to writing. Remembering and Understanding are the foundations of his theory and this is the level many of my students do not leave. Getting them to analyse and critically think, which is essential in the senior school, is a difficult task.

Breaking these two habits will be the key to my success. How I do this, is going to require a lot of work and patience, but I prepared for this challenge to help lift achievement outcomes for my students.  

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Initial Thoughts for 2018

After a couple of weeks in to the new year, I started to ponder about the lack of engagement with my Year 11 Physical Education class. I could see that these particular students had chosen Physical Education as an option because of the perceived idea that it was purely practical. However, after a couple of weeks students started to realise that this course also had a theoretical component to it. Due to the perceived idea that Physical Education was a practical subject, I quickly noticed the lack of engagement from majority of the class. At this stage I could not pinpoint where this behaviour had come from, but I could only assume that this is seen as normal for a lot of these students. With this bunch of students, my initial thoughts were that I was going to be in for a challenging year.

As a reflective teacher I had to try and think of ideas to help engage these students. While their behaviour was not difficult, it was the fact that they were disengaged and not motivated to attempt completing set tasks. At this stage of the year this particular group of students very much had the mindset of Year 10's. I had to adapt my original planning and structure more rigid lessons to help motivate this group. The focus was on shifting their mindset to 'learning' because this was ultimately going to help them with their achievement. Focusing on how to learn was important in the first few weeks of the year so I could engage these students. One thing that I did regularly was a group reflection activity, where students had to share to the group what they had learnt and what they still need to improve on. This activity helped set the scene for the year and hopefully will help student realise that they need to know how to learn in order to achieve.   

Friday, 3 November 2017

Key Points

The initial reaction to the post inquiry data was positive. I wasn't overly sure how students would respond to the idea of using 'voice typing' due to the low levels of efficacy. The data showed that students found the tool effective in helping them improve their self efficacy towards their writing. The positive response was overwhelming because of the huge risk I took introducing a new tool for students to use for an NCEA assessment.

Due to the increased self-efficacy within students writing, I saw an increase in overall results for the particular achievement standard I attached my inquiry to. To see a 16% increase in the overall pass rate from the previous year was extremely pleasing. After all, one of the main objectives of my inquiry was to help improve student outcomes.

A key point to note was the fact that the achievement standard did not require copious amounts of writing. The standard required students to reflect on what influenced their participation in the previous day's practical lesson. The forms of reflection only required a description and not any lengthy explanation, which suited using the tool 'voice typing'. However, if I was to use this tool for a different assessment that required critical explanations, I do not think that I would get the same outcomes.

Subjectively, as the year went on, I could personally see student's increasing their efficacy within their writing. However, I wanted to know if this was being transferred to other subject areas. The fact that students had faith in their writing in Physical Education was great to see, but ideally I wanted that skill to be transferable to other subject areas. Whether this has happened or not is for me to investigate.

A key point to note was the fact that student's with extremely low levels of self-efficacy found 'voice typing' difficult to use due to the added stress of the task. Student's who already did not have a lot of faith in their ability to construct a written piece on a document also found talking difficult. Due to their low self efficacy they found it hard to articulate words in order to use voice typing effectively. This small group found the task extremely difficult and consequently had little faith in using the tool.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Analysis of Results

Along with collecting data on the effectiveness of the tool, I also ask students to rate their confidence once the unit had been completed.

Comparing data from the start of the year to the end, shows an improvement in students having faith in their ability to complete written reviews.

When reviewing my results, I think back to the initial problems that I faced at the start of the year and to see a huge improvement in student self-efficacy despite the obstacles, has been pleasing.

With the increased belief in writing ability helped students achieve at the required curriculum level and improve on results from the previous year.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Student Feedback

While collating post inquiry data, I also got student thoughts about using voice typing.

“It was easier to get the work done and say what was on your mind instead of trying to find the words to explain what you mean.”

“It meant that I could have a conversation with Sir and the question was answered without me having to worry about writing stuff down.”

“I liked it how Sir talked to us and helped us get the answer we wanted for our assessment. Then it was recorded for us on our document.”

Overall, majority of my feedback was positive, outlining the benefits of using voice typing. The common theme to come out of this feedback was closely related to what I found in my research, which identified that talking is a far more natural way of communicating.

However, one major problem that was identified while using the tool was the background noise. Often words mentioned by someone in close proximity were detected and embedded on the document of the student using 'voice typing'.

“If you were in a crowded place it didn’t always pick up what you said and sometimes it wrote down a different word to what you were saying.”

Lastly, feedback suggested a select group of students found the tool difficult to use. I believe this was due to very low levels of self-efficacy. Because of their very low level of literacy, no matter how they gathered evidence for their task, they found it difficult to complete. This was a fear I had throughout my inquiry, as some of my students demonstrated extremely low levels of efficacy and to get them to show any belief in their writing was difficult.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Post Inquiry Data

At the conclusion of the unit I gathered post inquiry data. I wanted to see if the 'voice typing' tool had been effective from a student's perspective.

The outcome was positive, with 60% of student's preferring to use 'voice typing' over normal typing/writing on a document.

It was pleasing to see the increase in interest of the 'voice typing' tool over the course of the assessment. 53% of students initially thought that 'voice typing' was a preferable option compared to 60% at the conclusion of the assessment. From my opinion I base this increase of percentage on familiarity of the tool. Student's were hesitant at the start of the unit, because the tool was something completely new to them. But over the course of time, they started to become more familiar with the tool, which increased their self efficacy and their ability to complete the task using 'voice typing'.