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Exploring the relative lack of impact of research on ‘ability grouping’ in England: a discourse analytic account

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Exploring the relative lack of impact of research on ‘ability grouping’ in England : a discourse analytic account. / Francis, Becky; Archer, Louise; Hodgen, Jeremy; Pepper, David; Taylor, Becky; Travers, Mary Claire.

In: Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2017, p. 1-17.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Harvard

Francis, B, Archer, L, Hodgen, J, Pepper, D, Taylor, B & Travers, MC 2017, 'Exploring the relative lack of impact of research on ‘ability grouping’ in England: a discourse analytic account', Cambridge Journal of Education, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2015.1093095

APA

Francis, B., Archer, L., Hodgen, J., Pepper, D., Taylor, B., & Travers, M. C. (2017). Exploring the relative lack of impact of research on ‘ability grouping’ in England: a discourse analytic account. Cambridge Journal of Education, 47(1), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2015.1093095

Vancouver

Francis B, Archer L, Hodgen J, Pepper D, Taylor B, Travers MC. Exploring the relative lack of impact of research on ‘ability grouping’ in England: a discourse analytic account. Cambridge Journal of Education. 2017;47(1):1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2015.1093095

Author

Francis, Becky ; Archer, Louise ; Hodgen, Jeremy ; Pepper, David ; Taylor, Becky ; Travers, Mary Claire. / Exploring the relative lack of impact of research on ‘ability grouping’ in England : a discourse analytic account. In: Cambridge Journal of Education. 2017 ; Vol. 47, No. 1. pp. 1-17.

Bibtex Download

@article{fb51daf19ff3498ca2e51a3a35675af4,
title = "Exploring the relative lack of impact of research on ‘ability grouping’ in England: a discourse analytic account",
abstract = "Grouping students by ‘ability’ is a topic of long-standing contention in English education policy, research and practice. While policy-makers have frequently advocated the practice as reflecting educational ‘standards’, research has consistently failed to find significant benefits of ‘ability’ grouping; and indeed has identified disadvantages for some (low-attaining) pupil groups. However, this research evidence has apparently failed to impact on practice in England. This article, contextualised by the authors’ interests in education and social inequality, seeks to do two things. First, it provides a brief analysis of the existing research evidence on the impact of ‘ability’ grouping, with particular reference to socio-economic inequality, identifying seven different explanations for the poorer progress of pupils in low sets that emerge from the literature. Second, it applies Foucaultian ‘analysis of discourse’ to propose potential explanations for the apparent lack of traction of existing research with policy and practice, arguing that practices of ‘ability grouping’ reflect cultural investments in discourses of ‘natural order’ and hierarchy, with particular resonance for the discursive and political habitus of middle-class parents. The authors postulate that investing in a powerful counter-discourse of enlightenment science, illustrated via their current randomised control trial of different approaches to pupil grouping, may offer a means to challenge hegemonic discourses that underpin current classroom practice.",
keywords = "Ability grouping, discourse, impact, mixed-ability grouping, setting, social class, streaming",
author = "Becky Francis and Louise Archer and Jeremy Hodgen and David Pepper and Becky Taylor and Travers, {Mary Claire}",
year = "2017",
doi = "10.1080/0305764X.2015.1093095",
language = "English",
volume = "47",
pages = "1--17",
journal = "Cambridge Journal of Education",
issn = "0305-764X",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "1",

}

RIS (suitable for import to EndNote) Download

TY - JOUR

T1 - Exploring the relative lack of impact of research on ‘ability grouping’ in England

T2 - a discourse analytic account

AU - Francis, Becky

AU - Archer, Louise

AU - Hodgen, Jeremy

AU - Pepper, David

AU - Taylor, Becky

AU - Travers, Mary Claire

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Grouping students by ‘ability’ is a topic of long-standing contention in English education policy, research and practice. While policy-makers have frequently advocated the practice as reflecting educational ‘standards’, research has consistently failed to find significant benefits of ‘ability’ grouping; and indeed has identified disadvantages for some (low-attaining) pupil groups. However, this research evidence has apparently failed to impact on practice in England. This article, contextualised by the authors’ interests in education and social inequality, seeks to do two things. First, it provides a brief analysis of the existing research evidence on the impact of ‘ability’ grouping, with particular reference to socio-economic inequality, identifying seven different explanations for the poorer progress of pupils in low sets that emerge from the literature. Second, it applies Foucaultian ‘analysis of discourse’ to propose potential explanations for the apparent lack of traction of existing research with policy and practice, arguing that practices of ‘ability grouping’ reflect cultural investments in discourses of ‘natural order’ and hierarchy, with particular resonance for the discursive and political habitus of middle-class parents. The authors postulate that investing in a powerful counter-discourse of enlightenment science, illustrated via their current randomised control trial of different approaches to pupil grouping, may offer a means to challenge hegemonic discourses that underpin current classroom practice.

AB - Grouping students by ‘ability’ is a topic of long-standing contention in English education policy, research and practice. While policy-makers have frequently advocated the practice as reflecting educational ‘standards’, research has consistently failed to find significant benefits of ‘ability’ grouping; and indeed has identified disadvantages for some (low-attaining) pupil groups. However, this research evidence has apparently failed to impact on practice in England. This article, contextualised by the authors’ interests in education and social inequality, seeks to do two things. First, it provides a brief analysis of the existing research evidence on the impact of ‘ability’ grouping, with particular reference to socio-economic inequality, identifying seven different explanations for the poorer progress of pupils in low sets that emerge from the literature. Second, it applies Foucaultian ‘analysis of discourse’ to propose potential explanations for the apparent lack of traction of existing research with policy and practice, arguing that practices of ‘ability grouping’ reflect cultural investments in discourses of ‘natural order’ and hierarchy, with particular resonance for the discursive and political habitus of middle-class parents. The authors postulate that investing in a powerful counter-discourse of enlightenment science, illustrated via their current randomised control trial of different approaches to pupil grouping, may offer a means to challenge hegemonic discourses that underpin current classroom practice.

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KW - discourse

KW - impact

KW - mixed-ability grouping

KW - setting

KW - social class

KW - streaming

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U2 - 10.1080/0305764X.2015.1093095

DO - 10.1080/0305764X.2015.1093095

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JO - Cambridge Journal of Education

JF - Cambridge Journal of Education

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ER -

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