Practitioner Enquiry

Nina Wood, Economics Tutor, Subject Leader Personal Finance

‘How can we encourage more of our students to become experts across a range of topics in our subject areas?’







QUESTION: How can we encourage more of our students to become experts across a range of topics in our subject areas?




· While studying for a diploma in innovative education I worked alongside professor Peter Davies at Staffordshire University on his ‘Learning Study’ project. He was investigating what students own personal understanding of a particular concept was (based on their life experiences, education and current understanding) and how the teacher could use this as a ‘starting position’ to move students sequentially to a more sophisticated understanding.


· In my research I will also look at ‘Phenomonograpy’; how different people perceive the same phenomenon. Examples of this can be seen across subject areas with one person ‘seeing’ a particular subject/topic/idea in one way and someone else in another and whilst neither is wrong, perhaps perceptions can be more or less sophisticated. Do we as teachers agree on what is a sophisticated or expert understanding of phenomenon in our subject area? I think we might be surprised by the answer to that question!


· I have been interested in developing this research and investigating what teachers assume to be students ‘current understanding’ and comparing that to students own responses and comparing the two. After carrying out quantitative data collection and analysis I hoped to develop strategies to better understand what a sophisticated or expert understanding of a given concept is and how teachers can promote expert understanding of specific topics or concepts.


· I hope that this will lead to better planning of lessons that move students step by step from their current position to becoming experts in their area.


Key actions:


·Phase 1: Survey staff to assess what they would consider to be a basic and a sophisticated understanding of ‘price’ and survey students to assess their current understanding of the phenomenon of ‘price’.


·Phase 2: Collate a hierarchy of understanding of the concept of ‘pricing’ and deliver a lesson that moves students from a basic to sophisticated understanding using the hierarchy as a learning objective and learning tool.