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The practice of promoting primary pupils’ autonomy: examples of teacher feedback.

Hargreaves, Eleanore (2014) The practice of promoting primary pupils’ autonomy: examples of teacher feedback. Educational Research, 56 (3). pp. 295-309. ISSN 1469-5847. DOI UNSPECIFIED

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Background: Some authors consider the ultimate purpose of Assessment for Learning to be the promotion of pupils’ autonomy. But the concept of autonomy is problematic and teachers’ attempts to promote autonomy in the classroom can seem both vague and impractical. Purpose: In this paper, following Ecclestone (2002), I suggest that a full definition of autonomy includes children’s independence, proactivity and critical inquiry in the classroom – which by their nature centre around the individual’s capacity for self-directed learning and meta-learning in their lives. I illustrate how one teacher promoted all three aspects of autonomy through her classroom feedback. Feedback is conceptualised as all the comments made by the teacher as a reaction to any activity or behaviour by pupils. Design and methods: These examples draw on research data collected in 2009–11 in which nine ‘profile’ Year 5 (aged 9–10) children and their teacher were observed and interviewed about teacher feedback and ways in which it might promote autonomy. Five lessons across six months during 2010, which were video-taped, audio-recorded, observed and followed up by interviews with individuals, pairs or threes from among the nine profile children, have been analysed in detail. Findings: Findings from this detailed analysis of lesson and interview transcripts suggested that the teacher employed a range of skilfully crafted autonomy-promoting feedback. Categories for this feedback consisted of the teacher feedback during the five lessons encouraging the pupil’s: independence, usually in the sense of the child cultivating a view that might stand out from the general view (23 instances observed); proactivity in learning, manifested through that child’s unsolicited engagement with a topic (80 occasions noted); metasocial critical inquiry, which was subdivided into: firstly, metasocial critical inquiry into rules about life including assessment (60 instances); and secondly, metasocial critical inquiry into relationships, including social relationships occurring during learning collaboration (27 occasions); and finally, most frequently, critical inquiry into learning processes (94 examples noted). Conclusions: I conclude by noting that the teacher’s feedback – whether intentionally or not – had the potential to inspire children’s immediate and longer-term developments in independent learning, proactivity and critical inquiry.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Atira Pure
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2014 16:42
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 09:13
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