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Title: Social identity and ability grouping in a secondary school
Author: McManus, Jill Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2702 8353
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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Ability-grouped systems tend to produce similar effects on pupil attainment and attitudes wherever they are used. This indicates that common underlying processes may be operating. The theory developed here brings together ideas about group identity, stereotyping, responses to stigmatised identities, and motivation to learn, to explain how allocation to a particular ability group affects pupils. It suggests that when pupils are placed in lower or middle ability groups they rapidly adopt a social identity which is stigmatised with respect to the academic aims of the school. This then triggers negative responses including the adoption of helpless learning behaviours which impact on classroom interactions and academic attainment. In proposing the view that pupils' social identity is a critical factor, this theory challenges the widely-held assumption that ability-group characteristics emerge simply as responses to pupils' experiences of differential treatment in schools and classrooms. Evidence is drawn from a longitudinal case study of a single secondary school which was changing from a banded to a mixed ability system and follows the progress of consecutive cohorts of pupils through KS3 and KS4. Pupils' identities and experiences were accessed through questionnaires, interviews, observations, and school performance and pastoral data. Interviews shortly after transfer to secondary school revealed strongly established identities with lower and middle ability pupils in the banded cohort describing predominantly negative characteristics, whilst higher ability selfdescriptions were predominantly positive. Low and middle ability pupils in the banded system made less academic progress and had poorer behaviour and attendance than either higher ability banded pupils or similar mixed ability pupils.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available