Student Voice: a class’s response to using SOLO to involve students in planning

Earlier this year I wrote a couple of blogs about using SOLO to inform planning in the classroom and to get students involved in planning their own learning journeys (see earlier posts with “SOLO” in the title). The basic premise was that I would present them with a series of learning objectives and skills outcomes that would be levelled at the multistructural, relational or extended abstract levels of the SOLO taxonomy and they would tick off the ones they felt they could do and work together to plan how they would get through the rest. This began in January with all three of my year 10 groups. This week, I conducted a student voice survey to see how one class felt things had gone, and what follows is the summary of the responses that I have produced for my records. I don’t claim that this is scientifically robust, but I do think it gives us a fair idea of how this kind of approach can improve students’ learning experiences in the classroom.

Summary of GCSE Media/Film student voice June 2013.

The response to the student voice feedback was incredibly positive. Students had two questions to answer, “what did you like about the course?” and “what would have made it better?”. In the former category, 12 general themes came up. The most popular were the freedom students had to shape their own learning and the creative and practical aspects of the course. Others included the variety of concepts, theories and topics that were studied, the teaching methods used and the relaxed, fun, interesting and motivating atmosphere. Below are some quotes:

“I loved the creativity aspect where I was given choices about what choices I wanted to make in the production area of the course.” (sic)

“I love the course it has been really fun nothing really to change.” (sic)

“I enjoyed the relaxedness but also the motivational sense in the classroom, it made me WANT to learn and not merely attend.”

“To be honest it was really fun and interesting.”

“Freedom to shape where our education goes.”

“Very good learning methods.”

Of the responses to the “what would have made it better?” question, four main issues arose. The most popular response, from 25% of the students, was that they would like either more lessons or more time in lessons. The other popular response was that more group discussions would have been preferable. I can see their point here; most of our discussions have been whole class with little opportunity given for students to discuss issues within their tables. Some respondents wanted to watch either more moving image clips or more films in class, but this simply isn’t practical with time constraints and would not be a good use of lesson time. I prefer that they watch in their own time and use class time for questioning and discussion (rather like the “flipped classroom” idea). The other things that came up individually were: “less writing”, “more filming”, “more active lessons”, “less homework”, “be clearer of targets” and “more teacher explanations”. Out of the whole class only one student had anything negative to say, saying that she didn’t enjoy the course and her mum had made her do it.

Summary.

In summary, the students couldn’t have been more positive about the subject. This is particularly reassuring with it being the first year of a brand new course. Their responses were measured and thoughtful and the points they made for improvement will help to inform planning for next year, particularly their call for “more group work and discussion”.

Postscript.

Since I wrote this, the students carried out a re-self-appraisal of their progress this year against the Gifted and Talented criteria for Media and we found that 40% of the group are now eligible to be put on the G+T register. All credit to them.

 

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About Andrew Warner

Mostly English teacher, AHT (T&L/literacy/CPD) & bibliophile. Irregular examiner, MTBer, armchair anthropologist & bassist. Fascinated by language & behaviour.

3 responses to “Student Voice: a class’s response to using SOLO to involve students in planning”

  1. mkteachingandlearning says :

    Hi – This is really interesting. Thanks for the blog posts – this made me want to go back and read all of the SOLO ones to understand what you did. Did the students learn more quickly and achieve as much depth through their own planning? Will you continue you it next year? I think I’d like to try something like this with one of my own groups so would like to know more.

    • andywarner78 says :

      Hi. Sorry for the late response. I’ve not been on WordPress for a while. If you want a quick response contact me via Twitter on @andrewwarnerkms

      I can’t say whether or not their learning was “deeper”, but I think they felt more empowered and therefore more engaged in what they were doing. I intend to start all units in the same way from now on because it also makes them understand that they’re just as responsible and accountable for their own learning as we are. I think it’s a big step towards them not expecting to be spoonfed.

      Best, Andy

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