A questionnaire with six questions of different types was created using Google Forms after the completion of the Controlled Assessment.
The questions include: 1. Did you like the table arrangement (rate between 1, the lowest, and 5, the highest)? 2. Did you like the quiet corner (rate between 1, the lowest, and 5, the highest)? 3. In what ways the “quiet corner” was a good or bad idea (Yes or No with comments)? 4. In your opinion, do you think this kind of arrangement is only suitable for Controlled Assessment preparation (Yes or No)? 5. Please pick three from the list that you find the most useful learning activities, and 6. Finally, how do you feel about the freedom that you enjoy from working in this way (open-ended)?
A link was sent to the Year 10 group to complete. Twenty-five out of thirty-one students completed the questionnaire with a completion rate of 81%.
The reaction to the new table layout and the creation of a quiet corner after 3 successive lessons is analysed as follows:
Table 1: responses to questions 1 and 2
Two pie charts show the percentages of each rating from the respective questions:
It is interesting to note the different reactions to the new classroom layout and the creation of a quiet corner. Whilst 85% of the group expressed positive attitudes to sitting at tables, only 68% of them showed positive response to the quiet corner. Nevertheless, it is also worth noting that only 8% of the students (2 in number) chose the lower score 2 for both questions. None of the students responded with a lowest score 1. It is necessary to study their comments to questions 3, 5 and 6 to make better sense of these statistics.
Firstly, with regard to the creation and the potential benefits of the quiet corner, it seems that even though 68% were in favour of its availability, in fact four out of six of those who had given question 2 a score of 3 were also appreciative of such provision, describing it as “a good idea” where people could “buckle down” or “think more clearly”. Two of them stated that they were not aware of its existence. As a result, a more accurate assessment should include those 4 who have endorsed its benefits. The adjusted percentage is 84%. Either 68% or 84%, the quiet corner seems to be worth considering next time I use this arrangement for the preparation of a Controlled Assessment.
As far as the students response to their new-found freedom, their comments also shed some interesting insight into their attitudes and reactions to independent learning. Once again, 21 out of 25 students responded overwhelmingly positively about their being given the freedom to organise their own learning in a collaborative manner. It is interesting to note that 3 of them offered more than personal reflections. They commented on the behaviour of their peers, observing some “abuse” of such freedom, quoting using social network sites during lesson time. One admitted that listening to music proved to be too distracting. These off-task activities were also observed by me in one particular table. On occasions, I had to intervene to keep them on task.
Finally, question 5 has helped identify the most effective learning activities: working with my friends (16); using the revision guides such as BBC Bitesize, Sparknotes and Shmoop (4); getting support from, and discuss with, the teacher (3); accessing resources shared by teachers and other students (1); and researching other resources on the Internet (1).
As the focus of this experiment is the incorporation of a designated quiet corner in collaborative learning, I am keen to find out the results of those students who opted to sit either on their own or in pairs. The marks given to their respective Controlled Assessments will shed some light in its impact. Interviews with these individuals will also give them the chance to elaborate from their feedback to the questionnaire.
Ideally, to make the whole study more rigorous, the lessons could have been either observed by a couple of other colleagues or recorded using an IRIS camera for triangulation purpose. However, as a private investigation, I have endeavoured to be as methodical as I possibly can to report my experience that might be the basis of some further study or beneficial to others thinking about introducing innovations to their classrooms.