Grouping students to target specific deficiencies in numeracy: investigating an evidenced based Numeracy Program

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Grootenboer, Peter

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Larkin, Kevin

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2018-01
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Abstract

Numeracy has a significant impact on a student’s further study prospects, employment possibilities and retention in the workplace. Ultimately, numeracy skills are a necessary requirement for informed, critical thinking citizens. This study investigated the journey of a Year 8 cohort, through to Year 9, measuring and exploring the impact of a three-term numeracy program intervention. Student numeracy was recorded at the end of Year 8, and again midway through Year 9. This numeracy program saw 205 students sorted into twelve numeracy classes for one lesson per week. Some class groupings targeted specific skill deficiencies, and some were streamed to group higher or lower performing students together. This research investigated the pre- and post-program diagnostic test performances charted by these students using quantitative statistical analysis (comparative means paired t-tests across groups). To further explore these outcomes, two teachers were interviewed before and after this numeracy program. These interviews addressed the themes of teacher expectation and plans, implementation of the numeracy program, and reflection. There is a large amount of literature investigating the effects of streaming on student outcomes in numeracy, and it is known to have mixed results. Key themes from this literature are student identity, student performance outcomes, and the impact of streaming on pedagogical choices. However, there is a gap in the literature addressing streaming by specific skill weakness, rather than mean ability. This is an area explored by this research, which finds that grouping students according to specific skill weakness, for the duration of a numeracy intervention, does remediate those key deficiencies, but possibly at the expense of other skill areas. This research finds that streaming lower performing students by mean ability has a strong and positive impact on student performance. Conversely, the findings for high-performing students suggest that grouping them together, and the teaching and learning experiences that resulted from that, had no measurable positive impact on outcomes. This research suggests a need for future iterations of this numeracy program to continue to target specific skills, but on a cyclical basis; ensuring that all students are exposed to all requisite ideas and skills, benefitting from targeted intervention.

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Thesis (Masters)

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Master of Education and Professional Studies Research (MEdProfStRes)

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School Educ & Professional St

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Subject

Mathematics

Middle school

Misconception

NAPLAN

Numeracy

Streaming

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