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Title: Influences on pupils' progress in reception classes in Taiwan : a qualitative study
Author: Wu, Li-Fen
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1991
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This exploratory study has used qualitative research methodologies and strategies to identify influences on pupils' progress after starting formal schooling in Taiwan. The thesis sets the study in the educational and social setting of Taiwan, and indicates the particular difficulties and constraints affecting primary teachers and pupils in reception classes. These difficulties include an unrealistic, centrally imposed and rigidly enforced curriculum, large classes, traditional teaching methods, and the use of a language of the teacher's instruction and a phonetic system of learning to read, which are both unfamiliar to many pupils entering school. Interviews with teachers, combined with observations of the way they presented the tasks to their class, enabled distinctive differences between them to be described. These differences could subsequently be used to explain, in part, differences in progress. Interviews with pupils, in conjunction with an examination of their class work to identify errors and specific forms of difficulty, enabled the pupils' class behaviour and performance to be explained in terms of the interaction of their own characteristics and home background with the ways in which the teachers had introduced the topic. Qualitative analysis does not provide firm evidence of the relative strength of these effects, but it was clear that one teacher who explained the tasks more fully was enabling even pupils of weaker ability to perform optimally and make progress. Case studies of four of these interactions were used to illustrate the effects observed and to lead into a discussion of the implications for reception class teaching in Taiwan. The conclusion is that a lack of cognitive ability and language competence were commonly observed as associated with poor progress, and indeed some of these pupils seemed to have insuperable problems in the current system. The imposition of a curriculum with the same time pressures being put on all pupils, irrespective of their ability and readiness for school, created great difficulties for teachers and pupils alike. But some teachers exacerbated this problem by failing to provide adequate explanations and rehearsals of tasks for the slower pupils or those with language problems. The tasks themselves were often boring and old fashioned, lacking interest or appeal for the pupils. Initial difficulties often created hostile attitudes to school and a downward spiral in effort and achievement. Finally, the thesis attempts to suggest realistic and practical remedies for what seems to be a wholly unsatisfactory situation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available