What have i learnt?-reflective blog

So here we are, the last ever blog. Sat in teaching space 5 & 6 in January, this day seemed like a lifetime away, but once again, the semester has flown by in a bluster of assignments, essays, lectures, blogs and DISSERTATION. It’s also scary to think that this is the last semester as undergrads here at Bangor, or for many people, their last semester in Bangor at all. Anyway, enough of my reminiscing and what not, and onto what this module has taught me and what I have learnt.

I think its safe to say that we’ve all enjoyed this module and every aspect that its involved. For me personally, I’ve learnt a lot, both on a personal level and an educational level. So I’ll start with the personal stuff.

I’ve learnt that I can speak in public, something I’ve been fighting and avoiding since day one of discovering what POPPS was, and what it involved. But I can, every other week I’ve stood up in front of other class mates (and Jesse) and spoken about a topic I’ve found interesting that particular week. I may not have enjoyed the process completely and worried every evening before and the morning of my talk, but I did it, and more importantly, every week I’ve noticed my own confidence growing and growing (see videos for proof). I’ve learnt that I can manage my time well, as someone who usually struggles with weekly deadlines and the pile up of work; I’ve coped (my top tip for future students is to try and be one week ahead at all times, takes the pressure off when dissertation work is piling up). Lastly, on a personal level, I’ve learnt that I can take part in a discussion without being scared. I’m mostly speaking about comments here, I’ve learnt that I can question peoples work without being worried about the repercussions and should they make a point back, I’ve developed the confidence to make another point; this really aided my learning in particular subjects as well.

Now onto the educational stuff. I’ve learnt many aspects about the science of education in this module; I focused my own blogs on stress and personal development in education and learnt a lot through the vast amount of research required each week. However, I also learnt how much our education system needs to change. Its never something I’ve really thought about before, and after applying for a PGCE (unsuccessfully may I add L) it made me reassess the process a teacher goes through. I really think that doing an undergraduate degree, then a PGCE and then being thrown into a job is really wrong. I’ve taken this onboard myself, so for the next couple of years I’m going to volunteer and do TA work then apply for a teachers job through the job scheme, this way I’ll of had the most experience I could get before being thrown in at the deep end and also know for definite if its what I want to do (I’m not slating anybody who is going straight in for a PGCE, I probably would of if my interview were successful). I’ve also learnt that more support needs to be given to teachers in the work place, they need more support in order to achieve not only their potential, but also the potential of their students. I think that technology needs to be implemented into classrooms more so as well, Jesse proved that younger generations are developing the ability to use technology to learn, and also learn successfully, if this is the case then this can be implemented into classrooms to motivate and progress students learning ability. Lastly, I think that assessments in education NEED to change, not all students do well in exams, and most exams have the added pressure of meaning pass or fail (GCSE, A LEVEL, University). Assessments need to be adapted to the needs of the student, if the student does well with hands on tasks, implement an assessment to highlight this, if a student prefers coursework, projects, blogging or oral presentations, adapt an assessment to suit them. I’m not saying scrap all exams, as they do have positives and teach students the importance of revision and rehearsal, but the amount of stress and worry they produce needs to change.

Overall, I have to thank Jesse, Kate and Steve for the running of the module and everything that’s been involved in the presentations. By far, the best module I have ever studied at Bangor, just a shame it’s only an option in third year!

 

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Blog synthesis: How the way we are assessed can affect the way we develop

So in this blog I’m attempting to pull together the last four of my blogs, I’ll reiterate some of the research I’ve already included (the ones I’ve found most interesting) and include any new research I’ve found on the areas I’ve been blogging about.

My overall topic was about how the way we are assessed in education can affect us on a psychological and personal level, this being, the amount of stress assessments can put us under. I then expanded this into methods of assessment that may reduce our stress levels, as well as including personal revelations about which methods of assessment I don’t agree with.

Assessment is described as ‘the collection of relevant information that may be relied on for making decisions’ (Fenton, 1966). Davis (2000) defines the idea of assessment as ‘learning that is ongoing and requires deep involvement on the part of the learner in clarifying outcomes, monitoring on-going learning, collecting evidence and presenting evidence of our learning to others’.  Certain types of assessment can lead to a concept called ‘social loafing’, which is when certain members of the group do not contribute to the task fully as they believe other people will do the work for them, but they will still be rewarded equally. Linden et al (2004) found that large group sizes lead to an increase in social loafing. Karau (1993) found that social loafing can also be influenced by culture and task meaningfulness.

Anxiety and stress affect all students during their education experience, however, some people suffer from the effects of stress differently from others. Boivin et al (2009) found that certain assessments lead to social withdrawal in the classroom which can lead to peer rejection and depression as well as affecting the desire to achieve in classroom tasks.

Testing is another form of assessment known to bring on severe amounts of stress and anxiety in young adults. Sarason et al (1960) believed that ‘we live in a test conscious, test-giving culture in which the lives of people are in part determined by their test performance’. The point made is one that is true of the Western education system, failing a test can have a huge impact on the future development and education of the individual, which means the pressure to succeed is immense. Cohen et al (2000) research medical students during and after exam time, measuring DRC (DNA repair capacity). Results showed that DRC was significantly lower during exam time than once the exam period had ended. The immune system becomes weaker during times of stress and anxiety. So for individuals who are prone to suffering from stress, anxiety and depression anyway, exam times become a particularly difficult time.

Performance based assessments are a solution to reducing the stress levels suffered by students. It falls into the category of alternative assessment (Sweet, 1993). It requires students to actively demonstrate what they know not simply recite it onto an exam paper. It can take the form of speeches, projects, blogs, portfolios and essays (Tung, 2010). The advantages of this form of assessment is that is allowed individuals to take responsibility for their own work and persist at topics they find most interesting and therefore increase willingness to learn. As students have more than one chance to get it right, the pressure that exams pile on vanishes. Students can plan, take their time and strive to work to the best of their ability, something that exams do not allow.

Motivation is something that can influence our marks and how well we progress in education, if we are interested in something, then we are motivated to learn it, which in turn increases grades. The Attribution Theory in education is all about how we feel about our work and the responsibility we feel towards the grades we receive.

Ability: is internal and stable, the learner has no direct control

Task Difficulty: is external and stable; it is largely beyond the learner’s control

Effort: is internal and unstable, the learner has great control of it

Luck: is external and unstable with very little control.

Students will succeed more if they believe that it is their own behaviour rather than external circumstances that lead to success or failure. The most successful students have a tendency to overestimate the degree to which their own behaviour leads to success or failure (Lefcourt, 1976).

So after summing up the last four blogs I’ve posted, I hope you can see the research that’s been included supports my notion that stress needs to be reduced in education and that there are methods available to aid this process. Stress is something that everybody will experience at some point in their lives, but If there is a solution to the amount that a person experiences, then why not reduce it. The education system in Britain (and international schooling) is in need of a radical change, students no longer learn through sitting row-by-row listening to the drone of a teacher’s voice. Learning needs to become fun and exciting and make students active achievers in their own learning processes.

The Attribution Theory: Week 7 (18/03/13)

So this week I’ve decided to focuses my blog on whether the way our work is marked affects our motivation? I came across this area of research after reading my friend Sarah’s blog…that can be found here (http://cheeseandwinetarquin.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/attribution-theory-how-our-beliefs-affect-our-motivation/) so, as the title of Sarah’s blog suggests, my motivation theory is going to be linked to something called ‘The Attribution Theory’. I’ll start off how I always do by explaining what it is and then ill link to how the attribution theory is relevant within education.

Motivation is something we all struggle with and all have different ways of dealing with, I myself, make lists for the week of what work I need to complete then tick it off as each piece gets done, ticking each box and seeing the work load go down and down motivates me to finish it all. But what is the Attribution Theory, and how does it motivate (or not) us to complete work and stop procrastinating!

So the attribution theory is related to how we attach meaning to both our behaviour and other people’s behaviour, for example; is somebody upset because they are depressed or has something happened to make them sad? It deals with how the social perceiver uses information to arrive at causal explanations for events and examines what information is gathered to form a causal judgement (Fiske & Taylor, 1991). Heider (1958) put forward two ideas:

  1. When we explain the behaviour of others we look for enduring internal attributions, such as personality traits (jealousy)
  2. When we try to explain our own behaviour, we make external attributions. Such as the environment.

There are several explanations that people use to explain success or failure:

  1. The cause of success or failure may be internal or external
  2. The cause of success or failure may be either stable or unstable. Stable means that the outcome will be the same if we perform the same behaviour on another occasion. Unstable means that the outcome is likely to be different on another occasion.
  3. The cause of success or failure may be either controllable or uncontrollable. Controllable means we feel that we can alter it if we wish to, uncontrollable is one that we do not believe we can alter.

Right, onto how the attribution theory can be applied to education. There’s four factors related that influence motivation in education:

Ability: is internal and stable, the learner has no direct control

Task Difficulty: is external and stable; it is largely beyond the learners control

Effort: is internal and unstable, the learner has a great deal of control

Luck: is external and unstable with very little control.

Students will be more successful at academic tasks if they attribute their success to internal and unstable factors over which they have control (effort) or internal and stable factors over which they have little control but sometimes can be disrupted by other factors (ability disrupted by luck).

One of the websites I used whilst conducting research included guidelines for teachers to follow if they wish to use the attribution theory within their classrooms, I thought I’d include just a few of the ones I found the most interesting (ill post the link in my references if anyone fancies reading up on anymore of them)

  • It is extremely hazardous to motivational health for students to fail repeatedly after making a serious effort at academic tasks. I thought this point was really important, if a student believes they have put in as much effort as possible and is still failing at the task, they will suffer psychologically and emotionally. Why should they carry on trying if they are just going to fail? It is important to arrange tasks so that students who work hard are able perceive themselves as successful.
  • Excessively competitive grading and evaluation systems are likely to impair the learning of many students. I included this point as it has popped up in a lot of comments being made at the moment. I believe that the grading system needs to be in place in order for students to know how they are doing, however I think that it needs to be regulated in order to maintain consistency, I also believe that proper feedback also needs to be given so that students can improve on their previous efforts.
  • In general, it is best for students to believe that it is their own behaviour rather than external circumstances that leads to success or failure. This is also known as an ‘internal locus of control’. Lefcourt (1976) showed that the most successful students have a tendency to overestimate the degree to which their own behaviour leads to success or failure.

A study conducted by Kloosterman (1984) into the attribution theory within mathematics. He found that students perceptions of success or failure in maths are followed by attributions, which then influence effort and finally achievement.

So in conclusion, I believe that it is important to include attribution theory into education. If students know what can influence their success or their failures then they can take this into account when working on their next assignments. It is important for students not to think that certain things will guarantee them a pass, to counterbalance this, it is also important for them not to think that no matter how much effort they put it, they will always keep on failing. If a teacher can notice a student getting to a point of no motivation and constant failing, then they can adapt the assessments used to aid the student, for example, by using performance based assessments (refer to my previous blog (https://beckywebber23.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/blog-six-performance-based-assessment/) if you aren’t sure what this is.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. Comments as always, appreciated.

References:

Kloosterman (1984) retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED244830&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED244830

Fiske & Taylor (1991) retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/attribution-theory.html

Heider (1958) retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/attribution-theory.html

The guidelines I talked about above can be found here: http://education.purduecal.edu/Vockell/EdPsyBook/Edpsy5/edpsy5_attribution.htm

Also… a final point: If any of you came to my talk a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned something about a school phobia, if anyone is interested in reading up on that, I found an article the BBC produced (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8367283.stm). Seems it is a real thing after all! 

Blog Six- Performance Based Assessment

Here we go again! As I wrote last week, this blog entry will focus on something called ‘Performance based assessments’. I’ll start out by explaining what it is and then add in advantages and disadvantages, this will then be linked back to how using this method of assessment could better our learning and development and help us move away from the stress and anxiety caused by exams.

So performance based assessments represent a set of strategies for the application of knowledge and skills through the performance of tasks that are meaningful and engaging to students. To explain this further, it allowed students to be assessed through a way that is enjoyable to them, through a process they can take pride in and in a way that allows them to apply all that they know to a task, rather than the simple memorisation strategies that most exams employ. Performance based assessments fall into the category of alternative or authentic assessment (Sweet, 1993). It is believed that this method of assessment may be a more valid indicator of students’ knowledge and abilities because they require students to actively demonstrate what they know (Sweet, 1993). Performance based learning achieves balance through extending the traditional instructions given to students. To put it simply… traditional testing answers the question ‘do you know it?’ performance assessment answers the question ‘how well can you use what you know?’

What form can performance based assessments take? Well, they can be speeches, projects, blogs, portfolios and essays (Tung, 2010). One example I found in a book called Teacher’s Guide to Performance-Based Learning and Assessment, which can also be found here: (http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/196021/chapters/What_is_Performance-Based_Learning_and_Assessment,_and_Why_is_it_Important¢.aspx)

Wrote that for primary school children, you could place 10 caterpillars in a box, place a light at one end and darken the other. Ask students ‘Do caterpillars move more towards the light or the dark?’ Get children to draw graphs showing how many caterpillars moved to which end of the box, inform them that their graphs will be displayed at parents evening. This example shows that through the method of performance based assessment, children will be interested in the subject, be able to take pride in their graphs as well as learning through a physical demonstration. They are learning about graphs and science, but are doing so in a way that they will not notice they are being assessed.

So onto the advantages of performance based assessments. Time management, individual responsibility, honesty and persistence levels all increase when students work using performance based assessments. It can also allow for higher-order thinking to develop. Teachers have reported that using this method also improves the quality of the work that students are producing which in turn reduces the amount of time teachers must spend assessing and grading their work. Students also have more than one chance to get it right, this takes away the pressure that exams can create and allows students to take their time without feeling that they are being rushed into an assessment they may not be quite ready for (everybody develops their learning at different rates, this really needs to be taken into consideration more within education). Adamson and Darling Hammond (2010) wrote ‘well-designed performance assessments yield a more complete picture of students’ abilities and weaknesses, it could overcome some of the validity challenges of assessing English language learners and students with disabilities’. This statement sums up for me, why methods such as performance based learning need to be integrated into today’s education, children are all different, we don’t all learn from the same processes and this needs to be taken into consideration. It could also allow those children with less severe intellectual disabilities to be educated within mainstream education.

Right, now onto the disadvantages of performance based learning. Teachers have reported that moving towards performance based assessments can increase the amount of time that it takes to teach a child something and the time it can also take for assignments and projects to be marked. However, they then said that after integrating it with subjects within the national curriculum that time was reduced and that marking did become easier (http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/196021/chapters/What_is_Performance-Based_Learning_and_Assessment,_and_Why_is_it_Important¢.aspx)Moss (1992) stated that ‘it is very difficult for performance based assessments to meet criteria related to validity issues’.

There has also been negative research into the use of portfolios and performance based tests. Portfolios are time consuming to complete and also to plan, the assessment process is also drawn out, meaning that students are often left waiting to find out how they did. Tests using performance based assessments only show how students perform in the classroom and particularly only focus on specific information taught by that teacher, for this reason the results can not be compared or generalised across schools or countries; meaning that school rating systems would no longer be accurate. (http://www.ehow.com/info_8413085_disadvantages-performancebased-assessment.html)

So, those were just a few of the advantages and disadvantages of performance based assessment, research is extensive and if I was to include all that I had done, Jesse would be reading it for weeks. So how can performance based assessments improve the way we learn and develop? I believe that this method can alleviate the stress that is put on us as students (something I feel really strongly towards). It allows students to be assessed in different ways and in ways that they will enjoy and take pride in what they are doing. Yet still allows for marking and grading systems to be given, so that both teacher and student know how well they are progressing. I also believe that it is important that as learners we are assessed using our knowledge, and how we apply what we have learnt to certain areas, rather than by what we can learn in a short space of time and put down on paper in a restricted amount of time. However, I am aware, as with every method of assessment that is brings shortcomings.

Comments as always, appreciated.

References:

Adamson, F. & Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). Beyond Basic Skills: The Role of Performance Assessment in Achieving 21st Century Standards of Learning. Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.

Moss, P (1992) Shifting Conceptions of Validity in Educational Measurement: Implications for Performance Assessment in Review of Educational Research, Vol. 62, No. 3. (Autumn, 1992), pp. 229-258.

Sweet, D. (1993). Performance Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED353329&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED353329

Tung, R. (2010). Including Performance Assessments in Accountability Systems. Retrieved from http://www.cce.org/Performance_Assessment_Review_1.10.pdf

Just how much stress do exams cause? Is it really necessary?

So this week I’m going to extend on last weeks topic and discuss the amount of stress exams can cause, a brief insight into whether the room we are in can influence this stress and whether in the long run, exams are really that necessary. As a brief personal insight, I really struggle with the process of exams, I can’t deal with the environment they are taken in or the amount of stress the build up can cause. I spend a lot of my time in the exam trying to focus on getting through the whole experience and not concentrating on what the exam is asking from me; in turn this has lead to some poor exam results.

From the moment we enter the education system, test are sprung on us continuously. Sarason et al (1960) state that ‘we live in a test-conscious, test-giving culture in which the lives of people are in part determined by their test performance’. This is a statement I whole-heartedly agree with, our exam results influence our futures; fail our SATS…don’t get into a good high school, fail our GCSE’s… not allowed to study A levels, fail A levels… don’t get into university, fail university…struggle to get a job. Obviously my previous sentence can be disputed somewhat, but in general it is correct; exam results influence a lot, the pressure that these exams can therefore put on us is immense.

Before I go fully into the research that has been conducted into exam stress and the influence this has on us, I decided just to briefly define test anxiety and stress. Test anxiety is a construct considered as situation-specific, this meaning that it is a trait accounting for individual differences in the extent to which people find examinations threatening (Spielberger & Vagg, 1995). There are three main components of test anxiety:

Cognitive- the negative thoughts and self-statements that occur during assessments as well as difficulties that may arise in the exam (struggling to read the questions).

Affective- physiological state (feeling unwell, sweating and shaking)

Behavioural- Revision techniques and procrastination

(Putwain, 2008).

Research into exam stress is extensive, however, one study I found particularly interesting and one, which could explain why we become ill when stressed was one conducted by Cohen et al (2000), their research involved medical students during and after exam time, they measured DRC (DNA repair capacity) and how stress influenced this level. Participants completed questionnaires and also had blood taken at two intervals, one during exam time and one after. Results showed that DRC was significantly lower during exam time that once the period had ended. This shows that when the body is stressed, the immune system becomes weaker making us more susceptible to illnesses (could explain why I’m always ill!)

Research conducted at the Virginia Tech Institute in USA states that group settings can reduce intellectual ability. The paper focuses on the IQ of females during settings such as cocktail parties or classroom settings, however I feel that the results could be extended to the setting of an examination hall. (http://research.vtc.vt.edu/news/2012/jan/22/group-settings-can-diminish-expressions-intellige/)

So the last point I want to focus on during this blog posting, is whether exams are really that necessary? Are they the only thing that can rate our intelligence? Or should students be able to use their creativity, their imagination and their passion for a particular interest to showcase just how intellectual they are? (I will research into this further in future blog posts as well)

It has been stated that exams quash creativity, students revise information and then regurgitate the bits they can remember and hope it is somewhat linked to the ‘magic answer’ the teacher is looking for. However, students are rarely interested in this information, they learn it because they have to, because they know they will be tested on it. Writing about something they are interested in will not gain them the grades they need to progress to the next levels of education. Furger (2002) believes that performance based assessments are a good alternative to traditional methods of testing students and gives them an opportunity to express their knowledge and skills.

If you’ve reached this far down, then well done. Next week I’m going to build on the different types of performance based assessments and the advantages and disadvantages of it. As well as linking back to other forms of assessment and the affect these have on us as students from primary school age up until university level. Questions and comments are always appreciated.

Cohen (2000). Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1005503502992?LI=true

Furger (2002). Retrieved from http://www.Edutopia.org/performance-assessment-math

Spielberger, C.D. & Vagg, R.P. (1995). Test anxiety. Bristol: Taylor & Francis.

Putwain (2008). Retrieved from http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=21&editionID=167&ArticleID=1440

Blog for 25/02/12- Can the way we are assessed affect the way we learn and develop?

So after much deliberation and research, I’ve decided to specialise into assessments and they way that these can affect us on a personal and psychological level. Each week I’m going to look into a different type of assessment and how this can affect us, such as weekly testing and the link to anxiety and cramming and how this influences our retention levels. This week I decided to stick to a general format and establish definitions and start to link this to certain psychological theories… so here goes.

So what is assessment? Fenton (1966) describes it, as ‘Assessment is the collection of relevant information that may be relied on for making decisions’. Evangeline Harris Stefanakis (2002), “The word assess comes from the Latin ‘assidere’, which means to sit beside. Literally then, to assess means to sit beside the learner.” Davis (2000) takes this further and states that assessment is ” learning that is ongoing, and requires deep involvement on the part of the learner in clarifying outcomes, monitoring on-going learning, collecting evidence and presenting evidence of learning to others.”

Throughout education we are assessed in a number of ways, by the time we reach university we tend to know which forms we enjoy, which ones will cause us anxiety and stress and which ones need to be worked harder towards. Personally, I find exams a particularly stressful time (I’m aware that we all do), I often become so stressed that I make myself ill, meaning that exams are spent trying to survive the actual time period rather than focusing on the exam itself. I’m also not a fan of group work, I find that group work (especially in university) can lead to a concept called ‘social loafing’, to define this simply, its when a person in the group feels that they do not need to work as hard towards the task as the other people in the group will pull them through. Linden et al (2004) conducted field research into social loafing; they found that large group sizes lead to increased levels of social loafing. However, they also found evidence of social compensation effect, this is when people work harder collectively when they perceive that an individual in the group will perform poorly on a meaningful task. Williams et al (1991) studied social loafing and social compensation: the effects of expectation of co-worker performance, they found that a person’s trust was directly manipulated by a confederate’s statement intending their effort.

Education in the Victorian Era focused on making individuals stand up in front of their classmates and teachers and recite information (it could be argued that schooling hasn’t changed much), this lead to high achievers excelling in the classroom and low achievers becoming withdrawn, furthermore, this could of lead children to become anxious within the classroom setting and unwilling to participate. Boivin et al (2009) studied ‘The roles of social withdrawal, peer rejection, and victimization by peers in predicting loneliness and depressed mood in childhood’ and found that withdrawing within a classroom lead to peer rejection and depression in later childhood, in turn this affected achievement within the classroom.

Personally I believe that the way we are assessed can influence the way we develop, if we are assessed in a more aggressive manner, like the Victorian system, this can lead to social withdrawal which can further lead to depression. This could also be added to being assessed in anyway we feel uncomfortable with, such as presentations or weekly testing. However, like I said previously, this blog has just touched on a few of the issues that I will be researching into in my next few installments. Next week I will build on these issues and extend points made throughout this session.

References:

Davies, A. (2000) Making Classroom Assessment Work. Merville, BC: Connections Publishing

Fenton, R. (1996). Performance assessment system development. Alaska Educational Research Journal, 2(1), 13-22

Stefanakis, E. (2002) Multiple Intelligences and Portfolios. Portsmouth: Heinemann

http://comm.colorado.edu/~kuhnt/1600/liden.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1960649

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=4494868

School Uniform: Is it really necessary?

We’ve all woken up for school with the dread of putting on that itchy shirt that strangles your neck, that ugly tie that they insist you do up properly and that skirt they keep telling you to make a respectable length. I used to HATE my school uniforms (I moved around a lot, attended a lot of schools… and never found one I didn’t mind putting on). Then I reached sixth form, we were allowed to wear what we wanted with in reason, and I thought it would be amazing, however, it came with new issues; what do I wear today? Did I wear this the same time last week? Will anybody else be wearing this? (It cost me a lot of money and weekly trips to Topshop!). Thinking back to these days got me thinking, are school uniforms really necessary? Are they there for ease or is there an actual purpose behind them?

Uniforms do in fact have a purpose, people are more likely to conform when they are wearing the same clothes, there is no competition or trying to out do each other, and therefore in educational terms, people are more likely to get on with their work rather than compare outfits. Asch (1951) (I think most of us know this study) did a study into conformity in which the findings showed that even when a person knew the answer, they went along with the majority of the decisions, 75% of participants conformed at least once, with the overall conformity level being 33%. People tend to do this in order to fit in and avoid conflict. Crutchfield (1955) found that people who conform have less ego strength and leadership ability (great news for teachers trying to have control).  Zimbardo (1971) also carried out an experiment called the ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ participants were assigned to either being a prisoner or a guard, they were given appropriate uniforms and filmed throughout the process. It was found that participants quickly started to act according to the uniforms they were given, the guards started to torture the prisoners and bully them, and some of the prisoners simply took it, as they were ‘prisoners’. The experiment had to be stopped due to the levels of violence and tactics the guards were undertaking, the prisoners were put at risk, which broke ethical guidelines. Head teachers also think that uniforms can eradicate violence in schools (http://voices.yahoo.com/school-uniforms-public-schools-more-harmful-than-6756244.html).

There is a negative to uniforms as well, in regards to racial groups such as the KKK, many of the people who carry out the atrocious race hate crimes feel as if their identities are hidden by the uniforms and therefore think they have ‘diminished responsibility’ (http://www.guidetopsychology.com/identity.htm). Students have also stated that they feel a loss of identity when told to wear uniforms, that they express themselves through their choice of clothing, and therefore taking this away from them, is in fact taking away part of their personality (http://dagostorigby.hubpages.com/hub/School-UniformsA-Loss-of-Identity-or-A-Sense-of-Unity)

Overall, I do think that uniforms are necessary, despite my absolute hatred of them when having to wear one. They unite students and stop competition between clothes brands and ‘who has the best dress sense’. It stops low socioeconomic children feeling outcast by the fact that they cannot afford the latest clothing. Also, the fact that studies have shown that when wearing uniform, people are less likely to challenge leaders (teachers) and more likely to conform, could mean that wearing those annoying, itchy and ugly clothes, could in fact be beneficial to your education and stop bad behaviour in classrooms.

References:

http://www.tonypandycollege.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Conformity.pdf

http://www.simplypsychology.org/asch-conformity.html

http://www.prisonexp.org

Blog 2- The benefits of blogging

I’ve decided to focus this week on something that is a large part of this module. Are there any benefits to blogging? Can they enable students to learn independently or are teachers using them as a ‘get out’ so they have less to teach?

When blogs were introduced to us in year 2 in the research methods and statistics module, I was not a fan. I’ve always struggled with the stats side of psychology at Bangor, and the thought of having to blog about it fortnightly, quite frankly scared me! Furthermore, the thought of having to comment on other student’s blogs, trying to pretend I knew what I was talking about, was even worse. However, after a few weeks practice I actually started to enjoy it, building stats into real world examples made it easier for me to understand, and the fact that I could introduce stats into my own world examples, made it less of a chore to learn about. When choosing modules, the fact that Science of Education focused primarily on blogging drew me into picking it, not only am I completely useless at exams, the fact I could learn something new independently and use my newly acquired ‘blogging’ skills was something I was looking forward too.

Advantages: Since blogging I feel like I have learnt a lot about the subject area I was posting about, therefore, I feel blogging about Science of Education will enable me to teach myself about areas of the topic that are interesting to me. Julie Northam wrote an article (http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2012/01/11/the-benefits-of-academic-blogging-should-you-enter-the-blogosphere/) where she focuses on the benefits of blogging in the academic world, she states that academics who blog regularly report positive outcomes including networking and finding new audiences, they feel that through the process of blogging they can extend their area of expertise to everyone through the internet, and find new people interested in the research they are carrying out. Blogging can allow universities to interact and connect with society in different ways. A review into the benefits of blogging within schools (http://theschoolbloggers.co.uk/school-blogs-benefits/blogging-in-the-classroom/) found that blogging can be adapted to help students of all abilities; it can be adapted to fit their needs. It has also been seen to improve a range of students abilities, both with writing skills and ICT skills, they become more willing to write, as they are writing about a topic that interests them, and therefore the chore of writing fades away as they become more engaged in the process. Moving away from the educational benefits of blogging, another article (http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/09/04/five-unexpected-benefits-of-blogging/) has written about to psychological benefits of blogging, writing about feelings and thoughts after a traumatic period in life can often help alleviate the burden felt by individuals, with many therapists now suggesting blogging to their clients as a form of release.

Disadvantages: As much as I am a fan of blogging and having the ability to learn independently, I have struggled with the concept of commenting on other peoples work and receiving comments on my own. I received ‘non-helpful’ comments on my statistics blog last year, with remarks on my use of grammar and spelling, something I did not feel was helpful when already anxious about blogging on an area I struggled with. The process of blogging can also be very time consuming. With academic blogs being part of a module, they are of course deadlined, however, this can make students rush their work or struggle with a topic area. Johnson (2005) carried out research into The Use of Blogs as a Knowledge Management Tool, his studies involved students completing blogs using different methods and then commenting on how they found the process. The main disadvantage was that students felt uncomfortable commenting on other peoples blogs, however Hurlburt (2008) notes that these feelings of insecurity are usually temporary and vanish as the students get more comfortable with the class and their peers. Another downside was that some students found their peers wrote far too much and found it difficult to pinpoint an exact argument to comment and research further into (http://rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/cho4462z9.htm).

These are just some of the advantages and disadvantages of blogging, and some of them have been researched into based primarily on my view on the process. I’m aware that other people will hold different opinions into their blogging experience.