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Topping 2006 Research Paper

Two measures were used to investigate the socioemotional effects of collaborative philosophical enquiry on children aged 11 at pre–test in five experimental and three control primary (elementary) school mainstream classes. Experimental teachers received initial and follow-up professional development. In a pre–post controlled design, experimental pupils used collaborative enquiry for one hour each week over a seven-month inter-test period. Control pupils followed a normal curriculum. On a test of self-esteem as a learner, experimental pupils (n = 119) gained significantly while controls (n = 52) did not. There was evidence of significant reduction in dependency and anxiety and of greater self-confidence. Girls tended to gain more than boys. These results were fairly consistent across schools/classes. On a scale for teacher observation of pupil social skills in problematic situations, a random sample of experimental pupils (n = 25) gained no more than controls (n = 22) overall. However, these results showed considerable variation across schools/classes. Implications for future research, practice and policy are addressed.


There is much current interest in the identification of effective programmes for raising literacy standards. However, the effectiveness of such programmes might vary greatly according to implementation integrity and the preferred teaching styles or behaviours of teachers. This research explored whether highly effective teachers of literacy used teaching behaviours that were independent of any specific programme, whether these were consistent between teachers and different literacy teaching contexts, and whether teacher perceptions corresponded with observations of their behaviour. Five teachers were selected on the basis of high pupil literacy attainment and expert nomination, and observed during shared reading and general literacy teaching contexts. These highly effective literacy teachers tended to utilise similar teaching behaviours, but they did not utilise all behaviours thought to be associated with pupil achievement. Additionally, they utilised effective behaviours more in shared reading sessions than in general literacy sessions. Thus even these highly effective literacy teachers had room for improvement. To some extent the teachers were actually using more complex behaviours than they reported perceiving. They did not appear to perceive their behavioural variation between contexts, nor any under-use of other effective teaching behaviours. The implications for professional practice, professional development and future research are explored.

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