Friday, 9 February 2018

Gathering Evidence - Student Voice

Can changes to cultural visibility and responsiveness in the junior science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science?

When Graeme Aitkin visited Tamaki College in 2017 he said enjoyment, confidence and achievement were vital to student success. In this post I look at the confidence of students in junior science.

What was student confidence in science like at the end of Year 9? At the end of 2017 I surveyed 16 Year 9 students from two classes.

Before we get into it, I should mention that some factors that may influence this data include:

  • The 16 students surveyed were present during the final weeks of Term 4 while most of their peers (around 35 of them) were absent. This indicates to me they are the more dedicated, studious or supported students in Year 9, which may skew the data towards higher levels of reported confidence than would be true across all of 2017's Year 9 cohort.
  • I went in as an unfamiliar face due to my year off in 2017, so students did not know me as a teacher at all. 
    • While there was no teacher-student relationship to cause a power imbalance, there still may have been an adult-child power imbalance causing a shift in answers.
    • Our lack of relationship could have made students more or less truthful; on one hand they would have no fear of their answers impacting our relationship, on the other they could have taken less care answering for a stranger.
  • Pacific cultures place emphasis on being humble and gracious, so there may be a bias in the data with students presenting self-belief in their abilities as lower than they really think it is.
Here is the question that I asked:

The mean score across the 16 students was 6.2, which I took to mean something like "I'm OK I guess" or "I'm average; not great and not bad either." 

As another measure of confidence (although SO many factors could be involved in subject selection, such as career goals, interest, timetabling and unfortunately also their friend's subject selections etc) I asked this question: 

One student said they would take all three sciences, one of them said they would take two, two said just one science was on the cards and one had already made up their mind to take none. However, ten students said "maybe," showing that they are undecided in their junior years and perhaps indicating that they are still open to convincing throughout Year 10 and 11!

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