Underachievement in story writing: Using psychological theories to investigate boys’ perceptions and experiences
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AbstractThis case study investigates the underachievement in writing of a group of six year 4 boys in a one form entry primary school in the West Midlands. Exploring one class teacher’s perceptions about the boys and capturing the boys’ perceptions about their experience of learning to write provided a detailed insight into why this group of boys was underachieving in writing (Simons, 2009). The boys were all eligible for free school meals and most demonstrated disruptive behaviour in the classroom. Literature on social policy has focused on ways to improve the teaching of writing within the curriculum specifically for children who receive free school meals and exhibit disruptive behaviour (Bennett, 2017; DfE, 2012). Consequently, literature about boys as writers has focused on their underachievement, for which disruptive behaviour is a contributing factor. This literature has not explained the causes of disruptive behaviour that can lead to underachievement in writing. Therefore, I have researched possible causes and developed a conceptual framework for my study that was influenced by psychological theories. This conceptual framework is used throughout the study to explore a broad range of possible causes for disruptive behaviour that go beyond focusing on the consequences of that behaviour. Data collection in this study focused on a questionnaire, interviews and a group interview with six year 4 boys to capture their perceptions and experiences relating to story-writing. An interview with the boys’ class teacher was also used to ascertain her perspectives about the boys as story-writers. In the initial interviews with the boys, it became clear that they did not understand what skills are identified as requirements for successful writing in the end of key stage two assessment criteria. Following this data collection I delivered sixteen additional story-writing activities over four weeks and carried out follow up interviews. The main contributions of this research to knowledge and practice are the need to look beyond disruptive behaviour as a cause of boys’ underachievement. The research highlights the need for boys to practice the skills required for successful writing prior to their having to demonstrate them in story-writing tasks. The teacher-learner relationship may also have a role in supporting learning and reducing disruptive behaviour.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Education.
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