How can signs improve teaching and learning?

 

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Masters degree thesis for Design Studies MA at Central Saint Martins, College of Art and Design, University of Arts London.

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ross m mcgill student id mcg00027878 tutor elizabeth wright can signs be used to improve teaching and learning at key stage 3 in a secondary school 11-14 years old final report and artefact for submission to ma design studies central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london 2004-2006 ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 1

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dedicated to my father hugh mcgill 1941 ­ 2005 love knows not it s own depth until the hour of separation the prophet gibran 1992 pg.9 thank you to the teaching staff at alexandra park school london ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 2

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sections contents title page contents page page 1 3 5 5 6-7 9 9 10 10 11 12 13 16 16 18 18 19 19 30 32 32 36 37 39 39 40 42 44 attached section 1 1.1 1.2 section 2 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 section 3 3.1 3.2 section 4 4.1 4.1 section 5 5.1 section 6 section 7 introduction the main objectives the artefact and digital versatile disc dvd background definitions alexandra park school curriculum subjects at key stage 3 learning styles and accelerated learning methodology artefact development expectations of the report case study development of the dvd analysis key findings results summary of key findings recommendations conclusions bibliography appendices artefact ­ dvd and signage submission ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 3

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section 1 introduction the main objectives the artefact and digital versatile disc dvd ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 4

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can signs be used to improve teaching and learning at key stage 3 in a secondary school 11-14 years section 1 ­ introduction the aim of this report is to record and evaluate the development and testing of an artefact this artefact is a variety of signs used as a teaching strategy to produce a classroom resource which has been designed tested and produced in a british secondary school this has been completed using lesson observations to improve teaching and learning the title question can signs be used to improve teaching and learning at key stage 3 in a secondary school has been used for this development the first section of this report presents an overview of the artefact presented in two forms one a physical set of handheld signs and two a collection of video recordings demonstrating the artefact in use in the classroom the second section provides a background to the study environment detailing the type of school its students and teachers this includes an introductory history of the school the subjects used for observation definitions of learning styles and how the artefact could be used in a teaching and learning environment the research methodology is highlighted in section two sections three and four present the main argument and development of the artefact providing key findings for discussion which leads into section five which concludes the discussion and answers the main question further recommendations regarding the artefact will be accessible at this stage 1.1 the main objectives the main objectives of the artefact are to use signs to improve teaching and learning reduce repetitive instructions be inclusive of all learning styles and special needs ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 5

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these objectives derived from the key findings identified from the research and have evolved as the core aims these three aims have been condensed from an original seven which were used in a questionnaire delivered to teachers who used the artefact 1.2 the artefact see appendix g and r the artefact aims to promote the use of signs as a resource to facilitate communication not substitute teaching and learning the artefact developed and tested is a range of 15 laminated signs the signs are colour coded using a traffic-light system and measure a5 in size 210mm x 147mm a selection of these signs is shown in figure 1 the design allows the user to use the resource in a versatile way that is not restricted to a physical or localised position within the classroom figure 1 `listen `look `hands down `don t shout the strategies used for production of the developed artefact have evolved over a period of one year this phase has included an iterative process of discussions and observations of teachers students and subjects art drama english pe and science who have used the artefact 1.2 the digital versatile disc dvd a digital versatile disc dvd is included as part of the artefact and shows evidence of the signs being used in the classroom initially this dvd was designed to view the footage and provide evidence for analysis however this objective developed into using the dvd as part of the artefact as it provides evidence showing how the artefact is tested in a classroom it can also be used as training material for teachers appendix o ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 6

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this report provides screenshot photographs from the dvd that identifies issues for discussion in-case dvd facilities are unavailable appendix f t the complete artefact signs and dvd is presented as a hard copy and in digital format on a cd-rom the digital form gives individual teachers or a school the option to adopt the artefact to suit the needs of their school the research prototype has evolved from the perspective of a professional practitioner and interests emerging from personal experiences of being a teacher maintaining a day-to-day contribution to teaching and learning including the experiences of being a teacher is embodied in the following quote from ginott 1972 i the teacher have come to the frightening conclusion i am the decisive element in the classroom it is my personal approach that creates the climate it is my daily mood that makes the weather as a teacher i possess tremendous power to make a child s life miserable or joyous i can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration i can humiliate or humour hurt or heal in all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated a child humanised or dehumanised ginott 1972 it is a wish that the reader will understand the journey and how the artefact has evolved from its embryonic stage to the final proposal that is presented here the artefact aims to improve the teaching and learning of all students this artefact will give teachers a resource that can be adapted continuously to enhance the delivery of the curriculum and stimulate each of the learning styles ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 7

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section 2 background and definitions alexandra park school curriculum subjects at key stage 3 learning styles and accelerated learning methodology artefact development expectations of the report ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 8

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section 2 ­ background and definitions section two is the background to this report this includes an introduction to the study area the school used and definitions of signage and teaching matter a brief history of learning styles and accelerated learning is on page 11 which has been used as part of the thought process in this report the parameters in this section outline expectations of the artefact during development and testing including how the artefact has been developed and implemented into the teaching and the learning environment this report tests the main question by definition and use of video observations of students and teachers in selected subjects listed on page 10 the study also observes types of teaching and learning styles currently used in the school to identify the potential use of `signs as an addition to communication in the learning environment the definition of a `sign is a mark symbol or device used to represent something pearsall and trumble 1996 p1348 we define `improve by to raise to a more desirable or more excellent quality dictonary.com

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pupils come from white heritage backgrounds with the largest minority groups being black and mixed race over one quarter of pupils speak a language other than english at home but most are relatively proficient in using english at school about one pupil in five has identified learning needs which is close to the national average ofsted -http www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports/index.cfm?fuseaction=summary&id=131758 2002 page 7 accessed 17/10/05 alexandra park school has installed a hard-working ethos and a desire to be very successful with headteacher support a wide range of resources and enthusiastic teachers at hand the artefact could be developed and tested successfully 2.2 curriculum subjects at key stage 3 in state schools key stage 3 11-14 years national curriculum education involves maths english science design technology information communication and technology i.c.t history religious education physical education p.e personal social and health education p.s.h.e music drama spanish french and art the observations focused on a selection of ten teachers chosen according to subjects who answered a questionnaire that asked for their expectations of the artefact each teacher indicated that they expected to use a physical object in the classroom and that this artefact would be designed to improve teaching appendix a b six teachers were regularly used in the development and analysis of the artefact and they have become the main body of research evidence for purpose of consistency three teacher interviews were conducted after the final production at stage 5 to provide a suitable range of opinions for discussion the teaching subjects used throughout the study were art drama english french pe and science because this revolved around personal timetable constraints this proved to include a cross-section of teaching and learning styles this cross-section reflected teaching staff in various subjects demonstrating various styles of teaching used and the learning styles that are stimulated in each of the subjects ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 10

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2.3 learning styles and accelerated learning a focal point of the artefact is specifically aimed at audio visual and kinesthetic avk learning styles within the classroom learning styles are an individual s preferred mode of gaining knowledge common learning styles include visual auditory or kinesthetic dictionary.com http dictionary.reference.com/search?r=2&q=learning%20 style 2005 accessed 15/10/05 each learning style avk has been included as a criterion for selection for each subject used in this report narrowing the diversity of the study from using all ten key stage three subjects to those selected and listed on page 10 which include the three learning styles avk learning styles describe sensory modalities and label a preference of learning or an individual s way of taking in information in learning style terms a visual learner prefers graphs and charts instead of words each student can develop his or her own awareness by responding to the artefact being used and rather than a student giving up accepting that they cannot do something students can learn how to learn and the artefact can encourage this accelerated learning is a new practice pioneered into the modern ideology of improving education which is increasingly being introduced through teacher training in universities accelerated learning indicates a link between the brain in formal learning experiences and conscious as well as unconscious learning this presents a structured system so that all types of learners can be aware of and reach a level of achievement which they might think is beyond them the accelerated learning approach will help students understand their own learning preferences better it will impart lifelong skills in the process of learning students will learn to learn dickinson 1996 p.1 ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 11

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2.4 methodology the table below details the iterative research methods and development used throughout the report process by using research built into the design process and re-structuring throughout date time nov 2004 february 2005 stage objective video recording of lessons in curriculum discuss with school research methods pilot signage testing teacher interviews reading email personal informal recordings stage 1 research stage 2 stage 3 research evidence gathering march video recording collate data analyse footage prepare dvd sign research produce 1st batch artefact for testing analyse results develop further photographs produce dvd questionnaire for teachers final development testing of artefact produce 2nd batch produce final batch of signs gather final evidence analyse responses complete testing complete reading begin analysis develop dvd prepare synopsis final production for further testing external agencies contact data begin extended writing questionnaire for teachers present evidence to headteacher prepare rough draft data development begin bibliography begin appendix work on errors editing final printing complete bibliography and appendix final print video recordings on camcorder april research testing dvd footage analysis informal feedback may research testing informal feedback with teachers students viewing dvd prepare time plan test artefact record results video recordings on camcorder june stage 4 testing july stage 5 testing video recordings on camcorder informal feedback august gather evidence prepare data evaluate evidence september stage 6 present data to teachers dissemination feedback from preview of data final development of report review work to date feedback from agencies october artefact conclusions prepare rough draft teacher interviews by presenting dvd evidence informal feedback interviews analysis prepare final artefact dvd casing sign production further development through data ­ july 2006 november dec 2005 ­ january 2006 present findings to headteacher review feedback conclude report analyse feedback conclude report final production of artefact ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 12

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2.5 artefact development the artefact has developed through six main stages of evolution and the reader should be aware of how this artefact has evolved so that the artefact presented is fully understood stage 1 the initial idea was used in a personal classroom the signs are shown in figure 2.1 appendix j s figure 2.1 a selection of initial signs used before the study ssshh listen look group work aprons on the signs in figure 2.1 were created to stimulate communication within a classroom these signs were being used successfully for a year and were eventually produced for all teachers within a design technology department stage 2 this stage was a developed idea for the purpose of an artefact proposal this included a variety of signs using bright colours cartoons real images mixed fonts and sizes shown in figure 2.2 this system was designed to suit the culture of students at alexandra park school and the various subjects taught a description of this school is found on page 9 and 10 ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 13

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figure 2.2 ­ a selection of signs produced as an artefact `proposal books out hands up listen sit down sshhh the signs in figure 2.2 were produced during the initial observations in the study before these signs were produced and given to the teachers the signs were discussed through informal feedback with colleagues peers and students this sensitivity was particularly needed in the context of working in a multi-racial school with varied levels of ability in order for the artefact to work successfully appendix j stage 3 the third stage involved a developed batch of signs selected for the study teachers were given visual choices of the artefact via a photo-questionnaire in order that they could select appropriate signs prior to being observed see figure 2.3 appendix e figure 2.3 ­ teacher selectionquestionnaire for the developed artefact ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 14

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stage 4 introduced at the 4th stage was a traffic-light colour system for teachers to select signs for their observations signs with a green background indicate a `to do instruction signs that have an orange background would indicate a `passive instruction acting as a reminder red signs are instructions that request students to `stop the action shown in the image finally any signs that are colour-coded blue indicate a `safety warning stage 5 final tested and improved signs were used during the closing observation period using informal feedback from teachers and students the penultimate batch of signs was created see figure 2.4 see appendices j p s figure 2.4 instructions were added to the back of each sign to provide teachers with extra support and knowledge note the artefact is manufactured digitally so that signs can be edited to suit the needs of the individual school or teacher instructions 1 hold the sign in the air above head to gain student attention 2 hold sign at waist level whilst talking to prolong reminder 3 direct sign to an individual student whilst talking to avoid major distraction to others 4 place sign on whiteboard to point to 5 enlarge sign for classroom display 6 add sign to pc for interactive whiteboard display 7 place sign in middle of table during practical display with students gathered around ross m mcgill ma design studies 2004-6 central saint martins college of art and design university of the arts london pg 15

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