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'Towards a Social Pedagogy of Classroom Learning': Professor Peter Blatchford awarded major research fellowship

13 December 2016

Peter Blatchford

Professor Peter Blatchford from the Department of Psychology and Human Development has been awarded the Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for his project, 'Towards a Social Pedagogy of Classroom Learning'.

Through exploring the interconnections between teacher pupil interaction, pupil pupil interaction and classroom contextual features like class size and class groupings, the project looks at the best ways of raising educational standards for school pupils. To date, there has been little recognition of the important ways in which these three main features interconnect with each other and serve to facilitate or inhibit pupil learning.

Despite many technological changes, the classroom is still the main educational context for pupils. While there has been much consideration of effective teaching methods, the relationships between children and the 'proximal' contextual characteristics of classrooms (such as class size and class groupings) has largely been ignored.

The Fellowship will provide the time for essential scholarship and debate, along with selected field visits to schools, to develop an innovative 'social pedagogy of classroom learning'. This will be a new model of classroom influences, designed to be important for theory and practice.

The project will build on Professor Blatchford's previous large-scale empirical research on class size, group work, peer relations and the use of additional adults in schools and provide a close and evidence-based examination of the interconnections between the three main features. The project will seek to integrate psychological and sociological/ethnographic approaches, and will build an international comparative perspective.

The work is timely because many of the prescriptions by politicians and policy makers (e.g., regarding teaching methods, curriculum and assessment changes) are not informed by the reality of classroom life and a rich understanding of classroom pedagogy. There has been a surprising and worrying decline of interest in, and research on, the classroom as a learning environment and the interactions that take place there. A key aim of this project therefore is to help reenergise an interest in the classroom as a context for learning. The main output from the project will be a book in which the social pedagogy of classroom learning is developed.

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