JOURNAL ARTICLE

Pupils' liking for school: ability grouping, self-concept and perceptions of teaching

Judith Ireson, Susan Hallam
British Journal of Educational Psychology 2005, 75 (Pt 2): 297-311
16033668

BACKGROUND: Research indicates that affective aspects of development provide a basis for autonomous learning. Pupils' liking for school may be a useful indicator of their relationships with teachers and the school.

AIMS: The aim of the research reported in this paper is to establish the properties of a measure of pupils' liking for school and to examine associations between this measure, pupils' experiences in lessons, their self-concepts and the amount of setting implemented in school.

SAMPLE: A stratified sample of 45 mixed secondary comprehensive schools was selected for the research. Schools represented a variety of ability-grouping practices in the lower school (Years 7-9), from completely mixed-ability to setting in all academic subjects. All Year 9 pupils were included in the sample.

METHODS: Pupils completed a questionnaire containing items on their self-concept, liking for school, and their perceptions of teaching in English, mathematics, and science. Data on pupils' gender, ethnic origin, social disadvantage and attainment was also collected.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The properties and correlates of scales indicating pupils' liking for school and their perceptions of teaching in English, mathematics, and science are established. Liking for school is greater among girls, pupils with higher academic self-concepts, and those with more positive perceptions of teaching. Pupils are more positive about teaching they experience in English than in mathematics or science. When other variables are statistically controlled, there is no significant effect of the extent of ability grouping in the school as a whole. Affective aspects of learning should not be neglected in the drive to raise standards.

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