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Title: Analysing the nature of pupils' interactions in different fixed and mixed ability groups in the primary classroom
Author: Ambreen, Samyia
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 9475
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2017
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Group work is defined as an instructional strategy to encourage social interaction among pupils. Pupils are more likely to work in groups to perform their daily based learning activities in most of primary classrooms in England. Pupils sit around the table and apparently work in groups. However, putting pupils in groups does not always guarantee that they interact and communicate with one other to fulfil the theoretical expectations advocated in constructivists’ theories of learning. There can be various factors related to pupils and their context which can affect their interactions to make group work successful in any classroom. This study was aimed to explore the nature of pupils’ interaction and their perceptions of working with others during their routinely organised group work in a state primary school in England. The primarily focus of the study was to analyse the nature of pupils’ interactions under various grouping structures organised by the class teacher, to explore pupils’ perceptions about group work while identifying various contextual, social and cultural factors which can influence pupils’ interactions and their perceptions of group work. In this small- scale qualitative study, I used naturalistic participant observation to observe pupils’ interactions during their routinely organised group work in one primary classroom. I also used informal conversational interviews to explore pupils’ perceptions about their experiences of working with others in groups. Both the class and support teachers of the observed class were also involved in the research to gain their perspectives on the organisation of group work. The qualitative data gathered in form of pupils’ conversations, actions, verbal and non-verbal interactions and dialogues was analysed by using first thematic and later on through discourse analytical approaches. The findings of my research are drawn on the ecological model of Bronfenbrenner which revealed that the pupils adopt dynamic, situational, cooperative and non-cooperative interactions towards their peers during their group work. They participated in task-related discussions and remained cooperative by showing positive social attitudes of helping and encouraging others. They showed non- cooperative interactions by being competitive and showed mistrust towards their peers. The pupils also exhibited gender biased attitudes which influenced their decisions of being cooperative or non- cooperative towards a particular peer. The use of ecological model helped me to illicit that pupils were influenced from their immediate and wider contexts while interacting with their peers. In the immediate setting of the classroom, pupils were dependent on the group structure, teaching instructions and learning tasks to work as a group or as an individual. Similarly, pupils were dependent on and were influenced by their wider contexts (i.e. interpretations of the national curriculum guidance, pupils’ socio-cultural backgrounds and community influences) to adopt competitive and gender biased interactions. In the light of these findings, I suggest that the success of social interactions among pupils is dependent on the context which is interwoven by various internal organisational, social, educational as well as cultural layers. These influences coming from the internal and external contextual layers cannot be ignored in any educational research aiming to investigate classroom practices or pupils’ learning experiences inside the state primary schools.
Supervisor: Conteh, Jean ; Wedell, Martin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available