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The digital classroom


This article first appeared in “The IB Review” No. 3, February 1,2015. London: Hodder Education

The development of the internet, pioneered by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, heralded the emergence of a new information revolution which has transformed the political-economic landscape and acted as a catalyst for the emergence of a global knowledge economy. In this new e-poch, international companies will only employ individuals with the requisite skills and competencies, and have more flexibility to base teams in whichever global region they deem most attractive. With an increasingly mobile workforce, graduates and school leavers find themselves in a global skills race to succeed in the knowledge wars of the future. Amidst this changing backdrop in the free market, in which firms such as BMW use technology to digitally taylor over 80% of their cars to precise customer requirements, is your school managing to evolve sufficiently to ensure your peers are also able to take advantage of such digital taylorism with a more personalised approach to learning? With some students still finding themselves in lessons being lectured at by a teacher and completing questions from a physical textbook, has there really been a commensurate digital revolution in education, or do you still feel trapped in the Victorian era? As you look ahead to forthcoming exams, what additional resources are there online for you to personalise your learning experience and transform the effectiveness of your independent study and revision in order to put you in the best position to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities in the global knowledge economy?

One of the biggest developments, in terms of making technology integral to student learning, has been through the advent of what is termed ‘flipped learning’. In contrast to the traditional educational model, whereby a teacher spends the first part of a lesson introducing a new topic which students then practice for the rest of the lesson, in the flipped classroom model students actually study pre-recorded instructional videos in advance of the lesson. The benefits of this approach are twofold and resonate with the principles of Digital Taylorism seen in business. Firstly, pupils can follow explanations and work through examples at their own pace, replaying key sections as appropriate, and, secondly, it enables students to spend more time during lessons applying these new skills, addressing misconceptions, and developing their understanding further by working collaboratively with their peers to complete more complex questions, or project work which requires them to apply these skills in consort with other techniques. Whilst many teachers take advantage of existing resources such as the Khan Academy, some find the idiosyncrasies of American terminology, for instance radicals as opposed to square roots, distracting and generate their own. One of the best examples of teacher generated instructional videos are from Colin Hegarty whose videos have been viewed over a million times. Whilst these resources are geared towards the A-level curriculum, specific topics are readily identifiable and, in addition, there are live sessions which are free to view and participate in. You can also find instructional videos grouped according to the IB maths curriculum at IB Maths resources thus enabling you to take advantage of the learning principles behind flipped learning, irrespective of your teacher’s approach.

Whilst the standard of professional instructional videos is high, it is fairly straightforward to actually produce your own tutorials. Research from influential Education Professor John Hattie has shown that when students themselves generate and share this content, as a form of peer tutoring, there is a significant impact on learning so, even though it may take longer than watching someone else’s, it will deepen your understanding. At the most basic level, you could simply video yourself working through a problem on paper and upload this to Youtube, but such an approach can be difficult for others to follow on screen, so consider using an application on an iPad such as ‘Explain Everything’ or ‘educreations’ which enables you to create something like Jonathan and Ryan’s tutorial on the Quotient Rule. If you do not have access to an iPad you can create a screencast of your work on a laptop using either the screen capture option from an application such as Quicktime Player or using an online application such as Screenr. Whatever mechanism you use to produce your tutorial, once you have taken the time to create it consider helping your peers benefit from your explanations an maximise exposure to it by promoting it through twitter. There is a huge mathematics community on twitter, and besides sharing your tutorials, you can also find people to answer your questions or just follow interesting mathematical articles and discussions. The best hashtags to follow are #math #mathchat #IBmath #AlevelMaths #mathhelp #STEM.

Mathematics is a subject that, especially, lends itself to myriad digital applications and programs. There are several platforms which effectively serve as online classrooms providing both instruction, through lesson slides and activities, but also enable students to develop their understanding further through applying principles to additional questions. The most relevant for International Baccalaureate Mathematicians is IB Maths, run by Adrian Sparrow, which, if your school does not already have a subscription, will cost you $50 for a year’s access. Others such as My iMaths also have excellent resources, but these are aligned to the A level curriculum and you may need to decipher the different terminology to locate your particular IB topic. A more comprehensive stock of past papers and exam questions can be acquired from the IB itself through its question bank and IB prepared resources available through its online store. Other useful software to consider, alongside your graphic display calculator, is the powerful free graphing website Desmos which may well be a more user-friendly complement to your school’s subscription to Autograph.


Desmos graphing website: Are you a maths superhero?

Another avenue through which to digitally tailor your learning in mathematics is concerned with the uniquely challenging IB requirement of the exploration. An essential piece of advice to remember when embarking upon this mathematical magnum opus is to choose a topic that genuinely interests you. Whilst you may already have visions of exploring number theory Prof. Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, it can be hard to know where to look for inspiration. If you are interested in science the University of Cambridge’s NRICH site has a page dedicated to STEM with an array of topics and investigation that may appeal and catalyse your imagination. Similarly, if you are interested in the (very much) bigger picture, NASA has a site dedicated to Space Mathematics with an array of resources, data and investigations such as a problem involving how to ship cargo to the International Space Station. Other useful sites worth research include plus magazine from the University of Cambridge and Johnny Griffith’s Rich Starting Points for A-level Core Mathematics.

Perhaps the greatest marginal gains from subscribing to this digitally tailored learning approach can be realised in the frantic last minute panic revision that fills the vacuum between the end of classes and the IB exams. Having practised all the questions in text book so much that you can remember the answers off by heart, and not being able to access your teacher as regularly as you might like, it can feel like an isolating existence in which new challenges and discussions could prove fruitful. But what if your teacher was able to hold a half hour google hangout for a small group of your class who, say, needed some support on integration but did not want to lose 2 hours of valuable revision time travelling in to school and back? Similarly, if you are struggling with how to plot a regression line using your calculator, why not view an online tutorial and then try to produce your own version and share it with your peers through social media. Allied to the myriad sites that have already been highlighted, with their plethora of additional question banks, past-papers, tutorials and live question and answer sessions, the ability to personalise your learning and recognise the “unknown unknowns” through online interaction should help you transform the effectiveness of this pre-exam hiatus!

Whether your teacher is on old-school advocate of ‘chalk and talk’ or you are completing interactive quizzes on your wi-fi enabled graphic display calculator, there have never been more opportunities for students to take charge of their own learning and embrace all that technology has to offer. As students of the International Baccalaureate, itself designed to provide global citizens with the skills they need to succeed, capitalising on this digital educational infrasture to help tailor your learning in this way may just confer on you a competitive advantage in the global skills race, and prepare you for the changing face of Higher Education. Although the education sector as a whole may be somewhat pedestrian in its response to the digital revolution, as Digital Taylorism proliferates at the macro-level driven by multinational companies, and the number of Private-Public initiatives in Higher Education increases, its effects can be expected to filter down enabling you to demand a personalised and modularised university course more closely aligned with the needs of your prospective employers.

Richard Davies is Head of Personal and Social Education at the United World College of South East Asia.

Download The digital classroom


Atomic Learning (2014) TI NspireTM Handheld Tutorials. Accessed 31/08/14 http://www.atomiclearning.com/ti_nspire

Brown, P., Lauder, H. & Ashton, D. (2008a) ‘Education, Globalisation and the

Future of the Knowledge Economy’. European Education Research Journal,

Vol. 7(2) pp131-156. Accessed 10/04/14



Brown, P., Lauder, H. & Ashton, D. (2008b) ‘Education, Globalisation and the

Future of the Knowledge Economy’. Teaching and Learning Research

Programme, Economic and Social Research Council. Accessed 10/04/14


Cogburn, D. L. (1998) Globalization, Knowledge, Education and Training in the Information Age in ‘Ethical, Legal and Societal Challenges of Cyberspace’, InfoEthics98: UNESCO. Accessed 10/04/14 http://www.unesco.org/webworld/infoethics_2/eng/papers/paper_23.htm

Desmos www.desmos.com Accessed 10/04/14

educreations http://www.educreations.com/ Accessed 28/06/14

Google (2014) Hangouts. Accessed 31/08/14 http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/

Griffiths, J. (2014) Rich Starting Points for A-level Core Mathematics. Accessed 28/06/14 http://www.risps.co.uk/

Hattie, J. (2009) Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. London: Routledge

Hegarty Maths http://www.hegartymaths.com/ Accessed 10/04/14

IB Maths www.ibmaths.com Accessed 10/04/14

IB Maths Resources www.ibmathsresources.com Accessed 10/04/14

International Baccalaureate Organisation Store. Accesed 31/08/14 https://store.ibo.org/diploma-programme/subject-group/mathematics-and-computer-science

Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/ Accessed 10/04/14

Kokuamai (2014) ‘The Flipped Classroom: Traditional Education Turned Upside Down. Accessed 10/04/14 http://www.kokuamai.com/test/flipped/

Logan, D. C. (2009) ‘Known knowns, known unknowns, unknowns unknowns and the propogation of scientific enquiry’. Journal of Experimental Botany Vol 60(3) pp 712- 714

MyiMaths www.myimaths.com Accessed 10/04/14

NASA ‘Space Maths at Nasa’ Accessed 28/06/14 http://spacemath.gsfc.nasa.gov/

NRICH (2014) Enriching mathematics – STEM Mapping. Accessed 28/06/14 http://nrich.maths.org/9153

Severs, J. P. (2014) ‘Maths teacher’s class mentoring videos hit one million views’ in The Times Educational Supplement School News 05 April, 2014. Accessed 10/04/14 http://news.tes.co.uk/b/tes-professional/2014/04/04/maths-teacher-39-s-mentoring-videos-hit-one-million-views.aspx

Twitter www.twitter.com Accessed 10/04/14


Project Jugaad

An International collaborative School Research Project exploring the Role of Maths in Technology

facebook comms

Figure 1: Global Communication Flows (Butler, 2010)

Globalisation is the “shift or transformation in the scale of human organization that links distant communities and expands the reach of power relations across the world’s regions [which] can be mapped by examining the expanding scale, growing magnitude, speeding up and deepening impact of transcontinental flows and patterns of social interaction” Held (2004, p1).

Irrespective of the precise nature and institutional architecture of globalisation, there are a series of ‘deep drivers’ that will continue to operate for the foreseeable future including the global ICT revolution; global markets in the knowledge economy; and economic migration (Held, 2010, p243). These particular ‘drivers’, representing technology and information dissemination, can be thought of as prerequisites for a knowledge economy which the World Bank (2003, p2) explains is predicated upon four pillars, including an ‘educated and skilled population to create, share, and use knowledge’. With science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects critical, therefore, to this emerging global knowledge economy, Project Jugaad was established with the aim of providing pupils with a real world, open-ended project which would not only develop their mathematical understanding but, in addition, foster key skills such as inquiry, collaboration, communication, leadership, global awareness, and cultural understanding which will be crucial to success in further education and employment wherever they ultimately end up working.

In 2013 UK Prime Minister David Cameron led the largest business delegation ever assembled on his state visit to India with ambitions of doubling UK-India trade by 2015 (Nelson, 2013). There are tremendous opportunities for firms to benefit from economic growth in countries such as India and, given the changing economic landscape, providing our pupils with experience of working on collaborative projects alongside their peers in developing economies should help prepare them for myriad opportunities in the global knowledge economy. Jugaad is a Punjabi term that can be translated as using innovative approaches to solve problems effectively given limited resources. As such, it was chosen as the name for this collaborative educational research project into the role of Maths in Technology initially set up between Bluebells International School in New Delhi and Southfields Academy in London (Radjou et al, 2012).

For the inaugural project, two top set year 9 classes (13/14 year olds) were selected and the project was deliberately open-ended to promote a growth mindset by exposing pupils to areas of mathematics that extend beyond the confines of the syllabus and challenging them to develop new approaches to thinking about the role of maths in the technology that surrounds them (c.f. Dweck, 2008). Groups consisted of two pupils from each school and, although they were free to communicate however they saw fit (Facebook, BBM, Skype etc), their activities were scaffolded by the fact that each member had to adopt a specific role (Project Manager, Chief Researcher, Digital Engineer, Communications Director). Whilst some groups did struggle to establish contact at first, as the deadlines approached there was a flurry of activity and nearly all groups established effective communication in order to submit their projects on time. In so doing they formed new friendships with their peers in an international collaborative environment which seeks to simulate what pupils can expect to find when they embark on a career in the global knowledge economy.

The array of topics covered by the pupils was huge and the deliberations involved in shortlisting the final four were agonising. These 13 and 14 year old pupils completed extensive research into topics as diverse as maths in medicine and maths in space, and discovered, for themselves, topics that go way beyond the curriculum such as the Bernouilli Principle and calculus. Eventually, the four shortlisted groups were agreed upon and the pupils set about preparing to present their findings. This was a more intimidating task than normal, however; not only did the pupils have to present to a class full of pupils and a panel of judges sitting in front of them but, via Skype, they were also addressing pupils and judges in a class 5,000 miles away where the other members of their group were. Coordinating such a presentation within the strict 5 minute time limit required thorough planning, and it was brilliant to see how all the groups managed to achieve this with aplomb! In order to facilitate cultural understanding, pupils were also encouraged to produce short videos on ‘Life in London/Delhi’ with the best one being selected to be screened in the partner school immediately before the final.


Figure 2: Shortlisted pupils presenting to UK class and class in India in real time via Skype.

Now in its second year, Project Jugaad has expanded to include schools as far afield as the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore and, appropriately enough given the myriad extreme environmental phenomena experienced on both sides of the Atlantic, this year the focus is specifically on the role of mathematics in Green Technology. In so doing, it resonates on more that just an economic development level with Hill (2012) who extols the virtues of international mindedness into education as:

“The study of issues which have application beyond national borders and to which competences such as critical thinking and collaboration are applied in order to shape attitudes, leading to action which will be conducive to intercultural understanding, peaceful co-existence and sustainable development for the future of the human race’.

Where once skills were recognised as a key lever for prosperity and fairness, and material forces dominated growth, globalisation has led to the situation where countries can outsource their material production and concentrate on research and development: increasingly skills are the key lever (Brown et al, 2008, p132). As the rate of technology transfer increases, the link between education and economic growth becomes ever stronger as scientific knowledge accelerates the pace of technological innovation (Sab & Smith, 2001). Equipping pupils with the skills to succeed in this new economic landscape through classroom activities such as Project Jugaad is surely, therefore, not just in our interests as education professionals. It is, moreover, a powerful vehicle through which to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future in a manner that resonates with Hill’s vision (United World College, 2014; Hill, 2012).


Brown, P., Lauder, H. & Ashton, D. (2008) ‘Education, Globalisation and the Future of the Knowledge Economy’. European Education Research Journal, 7, 2, 131-156

Butler, P. (2010) ‘Visualising Friendships’, Facebook Inc. Accessed 16/02/14 https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=469716398919

Dweck, C. (2008) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine: New York

Held, D. (2004) Global Covenant: The Social Democratic Alternative to the Washington Consensus. Cambridge: Polity Press

Held, D. (2010) Cosmopolitanism: Ideals and Realities. Cambridge: Polity Press

Hill. I. (2012) ‘Evolution of Education for International Mindedness’, Journal of Research in International Education. 11, 3, 245-261

Nelson, D. (2013) ‘David Cameron to lead second trade mission to India’. The Daily Telegraph, 15 February 2013. Accessed 16/02/14 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9871786/David-Cameron-to-lead-second-trade-mission-to-India.html

Radjou , N., Prabhu, J., Ahuja, S. and Roberts, K. (2012). Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth’. Willey & Sons: New Jersey. Accessed 16/02/14 http://as.wiley.com/WileyCDA/PressRelease/pressReleaseId-102985,descCd-release_additional_material.html

Sab, R. & Smith, S. C. (2001) ‘Human Capital Convergence: International Evidence’. International Monetary Fund Working Paper, WP/01/32. Washington, D.C. cited in World Bank (2003) p5

United World College. (2014) ‘United World College Mission and Values’. Accessed 16/02/14 http://www.uwc.org/about_uwc/mission_and_vision.aspx

The World Bank (2003) The Knowledge Economy and the Changing Needs of the Labour Market. Accessed 16/02/14 http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLL/Resources/Lifelong-Learning-in-the-Global-Knowledge-Economy/lifelonglearning_GKE.pdf

To find out more about Project Jugaad and see last year’s winning entries along with videos and other material visit www.projectjugaad.yolasite.com or join in the discussion on twitter #projectjugaad

Improving Teacher Effectiveness through Student Surveys


Amongst a cacophony of noise in the educational community from the competing and adversarial self-interested cries of practitioners, policy makers, education providers and  teaching unions, there is a deafening silence in one crucial area in which there appears to be a broad consensus of agreement. More than anything else in a school, teaching quality matters as more effective teachers are an essential prerequisite in the elusive quest to produce high performing students equipped with the skills to succeed in the 21st Century (Ripley, p1, 2012; Jensen, p3, 2011). A similar agreement surrounding what exactly constitutes effective teaching amongst the fractional parties remains elusive in spite of an increase in research, however ‘appraising and providing feedback to improve teachers once they enter the profession and are working in schools’ is one of the five mechanisms through which Jensen (p7, 2011) argues teacher effectiveness can be improved and will provide the focus for this study. Whilst traditional instruments such as quantitative analysis of pupils achievement gains and observations from senior leaders will be considered, one of the most significant developments for education reform over the past decade has been the advent of student feedback in teacher evaluations (Ripley, p5, 2012). The aim of this study is, therefore, to develop an effective student survey to be used alongside traditional instruments of appraisal and feedback as part of a ‘balanced scorecard’ approach in order to improve teacher effectiveness (Jensen, p10, 2011).


Dr Goldacre (2013) extols the virtues of the transition to evidence based practice in the medical community in the face of vociferous inertia and now advocates the proliferation of evidence based practice within the arena of education. In particular, he makes the following recommendations:

  • research on what works best should be a routine part of life in education

  • teachers should be driving the research agenda, by identifying questions that need to be answered.

  • teachers should be empowered to participate in research

  • myths about randomised trials in education should be addressed, removing barriers to research

  • the results of research should be disseminated more efficiently

  • resources on research should be available to teachers, enabling them to be critical and thoughtful consumers of evidence

  • barriers between teachers and researchers should be removed

It is the first two of these recommendations which this study encapsulates most clearly. The question that has been identified in the introduction is how can student surveys be used alongside traditional instruments of teacher appraisal and feedback to improve effectiveness? In order to develop this survey, it is important to draw on existing studies.

1. Capturing the Dimensions of Effective Teaching

As part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching 7,500 lessons from 1,333 teachers in six American districts were recorded and compared using five classroom observation instruments and compared with measures of achievement gain for 44,500 students on state tests and student evaluations of teachers (Kane, p35, 2012). Analysis of student achievement gains revealed that teachers with a track record of producing high gains are likely to achieve similar gains with another group and, in maths, this correlation was 0.48 (Kane, p36, 2012). The key value, therefore, in this quantitative approach is its ability to foresee the achievement gains of future students which, moreover, are associated with higher earnings and greater participation at higher education (Kane, p36, 2012; Chetty et al, 2012). If this measure alone is so powerful at predicting future success, why bother with other instruments for appraisal? In spite of its high predictive power, focusing on quantitative measures of growth has a relatively low explanatory power, that is to say that it can reveal large levels of progress (or not!) but it cannot shed any light on what a teacher can do to increase this growth further through detailed and effective feedback on an individual teachers strengths and weaknesses (Kane, p36, 2012). Given that the greatest impact on student learning comes from meaningful feedback (Hattie, 2009), if we re-contextualise student learning as teacher learning, we can see that relying on such measures of achievement gain alone is unlikely to result in learning or, more pertinently, any increase in teacher effectiveness.

The second tenet of teacher appraisal is classroom observation, but of the three in the study this appeared to be the most problematic. 900 observers received between 17 and 25 hours of training on one of five observation criteria and graded 7 500 lessons; each lesson was graded 3 times by three different observation criteria (Kane, p37, 2012). The results from each observer were then compared to an agreed master observation and any that fell outside set parameters from the master were disqualified – in all 23% of observations (Kane, p37, 2012)! Allied to such inconsistencies in observations, concerns about observations stifling innovative teaching styles and the opportunity cost of senior leaders time in completing such observations raise concerns over the suitability of relying too much on classroom observations (Kane, p38, 2012). Moreover, eschewing these concerns, although such observations do, in theory, enable teachers to receive specific feedback about how to improve their practice which, if implemented, should manifest itself in improved teacher effectiveness, there is little evidence to suggest that the feedback does lead to improved student outcomes (Kane, p37, 2012).

The third tenet of teacher appraisal to be explored is the new component of student surveys. Student surveys have been a component (often the only component) used to feed back on instruction in Higher Education but it is only recently that this practice has been implemented in Secondary Education (Kane, p38, 2012). Two articles relating to this use of student surveys in Higher and Primary Education led to me to first consider using student surveys to improve my own teacher effectiveness last year and are explored in detail in  ‘Pupil generated feedback: the wisdom of crowds?’ (Davies, 2013) In the first, a university Professor, used to teaching final year students, struggled to engage Freshers until he enlisted the support of one of his former students (Brighouse, 2013) and in the second, a Primary Teacher in Florida who periodically asks her class: “What are ways that I teach you that you like or that are really working for you? What could be changed to help you learn even more?”

In the Measures of Effective Teaching report the most powerful finding is the reliability of student responses to the survey. Student responses had a greater degree of correlation with student achievement gains in Maths and English than did classroom observations and, moreover, not only were the responses consistent across classrooms but they were also predictive of student achievement gains across classrooms (Kane, p39, 2012). In response to the question: “our class stays busy and does not waste time” less than 36% of pupils agreed in one classroom whilst more than 69% agreed in another (Kane, p38, 2012). Also, it was shown that feedback for teachers tended to be consistent across multiple classes with a correlation factor between different classes of 0.66 which was greater even than the original achievement gains measure (Kane, p38, 2012). It can be argued that even without the 17-25 hours of training that classroom observers were provided with students themselves were better at evaluating teachers because they have had months to form an opinion rather than the 30 minutes which senior leaders are typically present for (Ripley, p4, 2012). Whilst there will always be some “knuckleheads” who just mess the survey up and do not take it seriously, these may constitute as little as one-half of one percent which means the wisdom of crowds should prevail to allow teachers an accurate reflection of pupils experiences (Ripley, p4, 2012). Taking into account the effectiveness of student surveys and the fact that they are a relatively inexpensive way to add predictive power and reliability to evaluatory systems, they would seem particularly well suited to augmenting classroom observations in grades and subjects where student achievement gains are not available (Kane, p40, 2012).

2. Better Teacher Appraisal and Feedback: Improving Performance

Systems of teacher appraisal and feedback which are directly concerned with improving student performance have the potential to increase teacher effectiveness by as much as 30% (Jensen, p3, 2011). With a view to improving Australia’s current broken system of teacher appraisal and feedback the report encourages schools to employ at least four methods of teachers’ performance from the following list (Jensen, p9, 2011):

  1. Student performance and assessments;

  2. Peer observation and collaboration;

  3. Direct observation of classroom teaching and learning;

  4. Student surveys and feedback;

  5. 360-degree assessment and feedback;

  6. Self-assessment;

  7. Parent surveys and feedback; and

  8. External observation

Although schools are free to employ the methods most appropriate for their context, there is manifest support for the inclusion of student surveys and feedback on the basis that students are able to report on teachers with a high degree of reliability, indeed their ratings of teachers have been found to be better predictors of student achievements than self-assessment and principal measures of effectiveness (Jensen, p16, 2011).

3. A Balanced score-card approach

To address the individual weaknesses inherent in any system of evaluation that relies on any one instrument the Measures of Effective Teaching Study explored a combined approach. Even with achievement gains, classroom observations and student surveys equally weighted the explanatory power was increased (Figure 1). However, by more accurately weighing each instrument to 0.758, 0.200, and 0.042 respectively on the basis of their effectiveness the resulting criterion-weighted or balanced score-card approach yields more of the two desirable properties – predicative power and reliability- than any of the other measures alone (Kane, p39, 2012).


Having explored the rationale for embracing a balanced scorecard approach to teacher appraisal and feedback, this section focuses on how best to design a student survey. In order to elicit student’s perception of teacher effectiveness – the questions within the survey are paramount: if you ask pupils the right questions, they can identify with uncanny accuracy, their most – and least- effective teachers (Ripley, p8, 2012). Whilst students are able to report on teachers with a high degree of reliability, the validity of the survey results depends on the instruments used (Jensen, p16, 2011). Of the 36 items included in the Measures of Effective Teaching study studied earlier, the following five correlated most with student learning and are surprisingly effective (Ripley, p4, 2012):

  1. Students in the class treat the teacher with respect.

  2. My classmates behave the way my teacher wants them to.

  3. Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time.

  4. In this class, we learn a lot almost every day.

  5. In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes.

Using this architecture as a starting point and augmenting it with college specific questions relating to values and learning principles, the following survey was designed:


The survey is to be introduced by the regular classroom teacher at the beginning  of the lesson with an accompanying explanation that its purpose is to help the teacher develop their professional skills. This also helps to prevent any recency effects whereby a the particular lesson in which a survey is conducted skews responses in either direction.


In initial versions of the survey students were encouraged to leave their name in order to enable teachers to continue the discussion of any specific issues. However, in order to reduce the risk of pressure from teachers or peer pressure from fellow students and prevent pupils masquerading as others, it was considered important that the school takes steps to ensure anonymity of individual student responses.


The results remain solely with the individual teacher who themselves sends the link to the google survey and the results which are automatically populated on a colour-coded spreadsheet to facilitate analysis. Teachers are encouraged to share their results but there is no obligation to do so. Instead, there is, however, an expectation that the individual teacher will include reflections on the outcome from the surveys in their individual Professional Portfolios.


In order to prevent saturation, each department will have a designated month when it alone completes the surveys. The Head of Department has discretion as to which year group or ability range to target and even if some individual teachers decline to formally share their findings it would be expected that, at a departmental level, key findings and themes are at least discussed.


“No information is perfect. But better information on teaching effectiveness should allow for improved personnel decisions and faster professional growth” (Kane, p41, 2012)

Whilst measures of achievement gain, classroom observations and student surveys all have their relative strengths and weaknesses and no mechanism of teacher appraisal will ever be completely accurate, analysis of the literature reveals that by incorporating student surveys into traditional measures of teacher evaluation, teacher effectiveness can be improved and is more likely to result in higher performing students equipped with the skills equipped to succeed in the 21st Century (Ripley, p1, 2012). By building on existing research relating to what works with regards to student surveys and augmenting it with College specific questions relating to learning principles, a student survey and framework has been designed to be trialled across all departments in the High School through which, alongside traditional methods of teacher appraisal, it is hoped to elucidate a range of information through which teachers can better inform their practice. Although the student survey will not form part of official appraisals, it can be used by teachers alongside walk-ins by senior leadership, peer observations and achievement gains predicated on examination data to provide additional information upon which they can improve their effectiveness and therefore exemplifies the following four methods which Jensen (2011, p9) advocates:

  1. Student performance and assessments [Exam results where available]

  2. Peer observation and collaboration [Peer observation]

  3. Direct observation of  teaching and learning [Formal observation / SLT drop ins]

  4. Student Surveys and feedback  [To be introduced]

Whilst the introduction of student surveys is currently being restricted to the High School, there is no reason why it could not be extended to the Middle and Junior schools as even young children can evaluate their teachers relatively accurately with students in the same kindergarten class agreeing with each other across thousands of surveys (Ripley, p7, 2012).

Incorporating student surveys in to teacher appraisal (albeit it informally) as an additional instrument with such a high level of reliability that is independent of the race or income of pupils is truly, therefore, one of the most significant developments for education reform over the past decade however, the success will depend on the extent to which teachers themselves act on the results in order to ensure the feedback they receive is translated into higher performing students.

Improving Teacher Effectiveness through Student Surveys


Brighouse, H. (2013) ‘Employing a student to criticize my teaching’. Accessed 04/01/14


Chetty, R., Friedman, J. & Rockoff, J. (2012) ‘Great Teaching’ Research, Summer 2012

Jensen, B. (2011) ‘Better Teacher Appraisal and Feedback: Improving Performance’. The Grattan Institute, Report No. 2011-3 APR 2011. Accessed 04/01/14 http://grattan.edu.au/static/files/assets/cdbcfbfe/081_report_teacher_appraisal.pdf

Davies, R. (2013) ‘Pupil generated feedback: the wisdom of crowds?’. Accessed 04/01/14 https://rccdavies.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/pupil-generated-feedback-the-wisdom-of-crowds/

Goldacre, B, (2013). Teachers! What would evidence based practice look like? Bad Science, March 15th 2013. Accessed 04/01/14 http://www.badscience.net/2013/03/heres-my-paper-on-evidence-and-teaching-for-the-education-minister/

Hattie, J. (2009) Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. London: Routledge

Kane, T. (2012) ‘Capturing the Dimensions of Effective Teaching’. Education Next, Fall 2012. Accessed 04/01/12 http://educationnext.org/capturing-the-dimensions-of-effective-teaching/

Marshall Memo No. 453 http://www.marshallmemo.com/headlines.php

Marshall Memo No. 461 http://www.marshallmemo.com/headlines.php

Ripley, A. (2012) ‘Why Kids Should Grade Teachers’. The Atlantic, October, 2012. Accessed 04/01/14 http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/10/why-kids-should-grade-teachers/309088/

Sandford, H. (2013) ‘Want to Improve Teaching? Listen to students’. Accessed 04/01/14


PICTURE CREDIT: Alamy in Tait, P. (2014) “Forget ‘Asian Tigers’ we need to focus on learning smarter”. The Daily Telegraph, 08 January 2014.

What is the role of Tertiary Education in Promoting Economic Development in India?


Secondary analysis of macro-economic data from the World Bank is conducted in order to investigate the role of tertiary education in promoting economic development in India since the neoliberal economic reforms of the 1990’s. Globalisation Theory provides the theoretical framework to analyse the economic rationale for expanding Higher Education (HE), by incorporating a greater role for the private sector and directing a greater proportion of public funds towards specialised Institutions, as an instrument through which to realise economic growth and emerge as a key player in the global knowledge economy.

Comprehensive background analysis reveals that globalisation manifests itself in HE through commercialisation, privatisation and capitalisation which are driven through financial considerations rather than a coherent strategy for improving education. The de facto privatisation of HE in India, which emerges against a background of reduced government investment, appears chaotic and unplanned. In 2005 the government belatedly began to recognise knowledge as the key driving force in the 21st Century and the National Knowledge Commission it created has helped influence educational policy by emphasising the importance of HE not only in contributing to economic development but also social progress and political democracy (NKC, p62, 2009).

Statistical analysis reveals significant correlation between enrolment in HE and economic growth over the period but cautions that HE is only part of socioeconomic policy and that additional research is required to prove causation. Establishing HE as a necessary, but not sufficient, precondition for economic growth, an education production function is developed which incorporates other precipitant factors, such as digital communications infrastructure, innovation, and a business friendly regulatory environment. Only by considering investment in HE in consort with these other components of socioeconomic policy prescription, and in conjunction with action to address market failure in the sector through the introduction of a credible and universal system of quality assurance, can India seek to maximise the contribution of HE to economic development.

Download Paper: What is the Role of Tertiary Education on Promoting Economic Development in India

Charting the Nexus: A Comparative Analysis of the Relationship between Education, Economic Growth, and State Formation in Pakistan and South Korea

With the advent of the ‘knowledge economy’, the role of education in development has, arguably, changed substantially (Green, p16, 2007). The concomitant advances in science and technology, especially Information and Communication Technology (ICT), can be harnessed by developing countries to realise economic development, provided they have either a workforce endowed with sufficient levels of human capital to assimilate and transfer this knowledge in order to establish an indigenous industry, or they are able to convince foreign multinationals that there is a sufficiently skilled workforce for them to invest (Green, p16, 2007). Education, however, should not only be considered as an instrument of economic policy through which to stimulate growth; as a political tool educational policy can be orchestrated to facilitate state formation by manipulating pupils’ perceptions of their national identity. It may well be the case that the resulting increase in social cohesion, and sense of national unity, may also have positive externalities in terms of effects on development but such effects are likely to be omitted from analysis which concentrates solely on the role of education in promoting skills formation. Therefore, by examining both the political and economic consequences of education policy, through a comparative analysis of Pakistan and South Korea in the second half of the 20th Century, this paper will seek to develop a holistic picture of the role of education in international development.

Education, economic development and state formation in Pakistan & S Korea



‘Of all the issues facing development economists, none is quite so compelling as the question of economic growth’ (Ray, 1998)

Article 45 of the Indian Constitution obliges the state to provide free and compulsory education for all children, up to the age of 14, and initially envisaged that this would be achieved by 1960 (Dréze & Sen, p17, 2003). Fifty years later, this goal of Universal Primary Education (UPE) has been incorporated into a rights based approach to education through international frameworks, such as ‘Education For All’ (EFA) and the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDG) (UNICEF, 2007). The 2009 ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill’ does not, however, fully comply with the assurances the Indian government made at Jomtien, where it acknowledged expansion and development of the early years curriculum as an integral part of the EFA objectives, as it does not cover children under the age of 6 (Singh, 2009). Given that the Bill confers on individual states the responsibility to provide free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school within a period of three years from the commencement of the Bill, it is hard to envisage that India will fulfil its 2015 MDG commitments concerning access to education, let alone address inchoate concerns about the abysmal quality of Indian schools which continues to discourage many parents from sending their children to school, and yields extremely low average attainment of those pupils who do attend (Singh, 2009; UNDP, 2011, Dréze & Sen, p10, 2003).

Digital Divide – Quality Education in India

AIM HIGHER: Student Leadership as a component of Behaviour for Learning


This research project seeks to explore the extent to which the learning environment within a school can be improved by capitalising on the intellectual and leadership potential of pupils themselves to innovate, identify and contribute to the direction of their own learning through the introduction of a Student Leader Scheme as a component of whole-school behaviour for learning policy. It sets out a rudimentary framework that has served as the basis for a pilot scheme that has been used with a top set year 9 mathematics class for the academic year 2012/13. By analysing the results of pupils’ experiences as Student Leader throughout the year, the project establishes that not only is there broad support for the idea of increased Student Leadership but that there is an appetite to extend the mandate and responsibilities that the position entails. It suggests that by incorporating this feedback and extending the scheme to other mathematics classes and the sociology department for the academic year 2013/14, an effective Student Leadership Scheme can be developed that can be rolled out across the school.

Download: Student Leader Research Project

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