Item Open AccessEarly childhood education in India: A possible investment in better outcomes? A quantitative analysis using Young Lives India(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Alwani, Sabilah EbooThis paper explores the relationship between early childhood education and academic outcomes for children in India by estimating the ability of preschool participation at age 5 to predict results on major cognitive assessments at age 12. Initially looking at differences in means, it moves on to utilise regression analysis first in an uncontrolled model, and then in a model which controls for both gender and maternal education, as these have been deemed important inputs for academic attainment in the wider literature on human capital development. The sample used for this research is constructed from Young Lives (India), which from 2002 to 2017 surveyed two cohorts of children across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with a pro-poor sampling strategy. Surprisingly, the results of the analysis find that participation in early childhood education had a negligible effect on test scores, even when controlling for gender and maternal education. Meanwhile, maternal education emerged as a strong predictor of test results. These findings contradict much of the existing evidence that demonstrates associations between early childhood education and cognitive development, and, in turn, improved economic outcomes. Accordingly, it raises questions about the generalisability of the existing evidence and the quality of India’s ECE offering. The premise, method and findings of this paper are divided into nine sections, including an introduction, an explanation of Human Capital as the paper’s conceptual framework, a literature review, an overview of the context of ECE in India, a section on the paper’s data and variables, a methods section, an overview of the results, a discussion, and conclusions. Item Open AccessRethinking the Significance of Creative Writing: A Neglected Art Form behind the Language Learning Curriculum(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Wang, LuIn many countries, including China and the UK, creative writing is seen as a subject within the broader area of first language learning. Embedded within language learning, creative writing therefore appears very functional. Teachers often pay more attention to the technical writing skills but neglect emotion and creativity. However, many researchers argue that emotion and creativity should be the core elements when seeing creative writing as valuable for its own sake, as an art form. This essay will draw on the argument that we should rethink the significance of teaching creative writing as an art form. As the author had educational experience in both the UK and China, this paper will mainly use the examples in the UK and China to explore the following questions: in what ways can we see creative writing as an art form and why is it educationally valuable? What is lost in a functional view of creative writing and how does it contribute to language learning? These answers will address the democratic nature of art education, the role of aesthetics in generating creativity and motivation for language learning. From the perspective of democracy, creative writing is a significant way for self-expression and voice of freedom. From the view of aesthetics, aesthetic experience takes an important role in generating emotion and creativity, which helps personal growth rather than only working on the skill-based learning. Another perspective is that creative writing can help students generate motivation in language learning by giving them more space and time for self-expression and helping them experience the beauty of language, which corresponds to the democratic and aesthetic factor. Item Open AccessLiterature Review on Issues Surrounding GCSE Textiles Courses in English Secondary Schools(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Solomka, Olexandra MTextiles is currently the least popular mainstream GCSE option in England, and because I am a Textiles teacher, I conducted a literature review to determine and understand why this may be the case. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of male pupils’ opting to take a GCSE in Textiles is very low. Indeed, the association between sewing and female domesticity appears to have had a negative impact on male students opting for the subject, as the low male GCSE numbers are also present in Child Development, Dance and Health & Social Care. Additionally, the literature suggests creative subjects in general have been taught in a manner that does not motivate pupils nor allow creativity within the lessons. Furthermore, many pupils in Textiles classes are often given projects that result in stereotypical and unoriginal final outcomes, as teachers favour the reliability of getting all their students to produce the same outcome e.g. an embroidered cushion. Additionally, as a result of these sorts of Textiles projects, pupils struggle to see the point in the designing and planning stages of their products, as they will all be the same. Moreover, uninspiring projects that favour practical skill learning, over designing, planning and problem solving activities, have resulted in schools and the government questioning whether Textiles can be considered an academic subject. Indicatively, Textiles subjects have not been included in the English Baccalaureate qualification, and feasibly, this may have led to certain top UK universities listing Textiles subjects as undesirable academic qualifications to possess. Item Open AccessBetween Idealism and Realism: Critical Peace Education in Divided Post-Conflict Contexts(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Hajir, BasmaThis paper navigates through Critical Peace Education (CPE), a concept that emerged in response to criticisms of peace education as ‘politicised’, ‘propaganda’, ‘not objective’ and ‘lacking criticality’. CPE aims to develop students’ critical consciousness that would enable them to explore contradictions in their social, political and economic realm. It would also prepare them to act against these contradictions. This paper compares and contrasts theoretical grounds of CPE with three other approaches to education, namely Allport’s (1954) Contact Theory, Taylor’s (1994) Multiculturalism and Gallager’s (1996) ‘teaching contested narratives’. Building on the epistemological similarity between CPE and these three other approaches and given the scarcity of CPE application and evaluation (Bajaj, 2015), I find that scrutinising applications, evaluations and implications of these approaches in conflicted contexts must yield valuable insights to CPE. Accordingly, I explore two conflict/post conflict contexts, namely Rwanda and Palestine- Israel. I review relevant literature that examines and evaluates these approaches and I highlight three challenges to their application; ‘The power of the victor’, ‘identity accentuation’, ‘social transformation: The individual or structural asymmetry?’. The paper concludes with suggesting three parameters that are worth considering when conceptualising CPE: ‘Practicality’, ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Scalability’. Item Open AccessThe Nexus of Language and Culture: A Review of Literature on Intercultural Communicative Competence in Foreign Language Education(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Liu, MengThe issue of intercultural communication has garnered more attention than ever as the world changes with increasing mobility both physical and virtual. Such change not only transforms how we communicate but also foregrounds cultural differences and the implications of intercultural understanding. Scholarly debate on the nexus of language and culture has ignited considerable research effort to contextualise foreign language education to accommodate such changing landscape. This article reviews both this debate and empirical effort with two aims. First, it aims to explore theoretical debates on the nature of the relationship between language and culture to identify the theoretical underpinnings of educational practice. Second, it reviews relevant empirical research to reveal how the issue of language and culture has been addressed in foreign language classrooms. In the theoretical overview, three highlights in the language-culture nexus debate are summarised, followed by the proposed dual focus on language and culture in foreign language education. Particularly, a model of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) is reviewed in detail as the paradigmatic example of addressing both language and culture in foreign language education. In the empirical review, scholarly works inspired by the ICC model are synthesised into three different themes, namely “Developing ICC: The traditional classroom approach”, “Developing ICC: The telecollaboration approach” and “Assessing ICC”. Insights and limitations of previous studies are discussed and future research directions are proposed at the end. Item Open AccessAn exploratory study on perspectives of Vietnamese experienced teachers and student teachers toward teachers’ code-switching(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Cam Nguyen, Nhung Van Vu DuyThere have existed different perspectives on teachers’ use of code-switching (CS) in sec-ond/foreign language (L2) classrooms. While some suggest teachers’ exclusive use of L2 in L2 classrooms, others argue that teachers’ switching to first language (L1) can have val-uable contributions to L2 teaching. Also, little research has examined student teachers’ perspectives on this issue even though student teaching experience plays a significant role in teacher education programmes. This exploratory qualitative study aims to compare the perspectives of student teachers and experienced teachers toward CS use in teaching Eng-lish as a foreign language (EFL) in Vietnam. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with fourteen Vietnamese EFL student teachers and experienced teachers. The findings revealed that all student teachers and experienced teachers had positive attitudes toward CS. In line with previous research, CS was reported to be employed for several different pedagogical functions in L2 classrooms, such as explaining grammar points, clar-ifying difficult concepts, checking students’ comprehension, and dealing with students’ misbehaviours. In addition, apart from the previously reported benefits of CS, such as facilitating students’ comprehension, saving time, motivating students, and accommodating students’ low English proficiency levels, the student teachers in this study also maintained that CS could help them address their anxiety in delivering instructions while the experi-enced teachers believed that CS could help them deal with their lack of confidence about their pronunciation and avoid students’ judgements. Based on the findings, this paper suggests that CS could be considered as an instructional strategy and EFL teacher education programs in Vietnam should consider incorporating training on teachers’ CS use to im-prove their awareness and confidence. Item Open AccessDoes ‘WOW’ translate to an ‘A’? Exploring the effects of virtual reality assisted multimodal text on Chinese Grade 8 EFL learners’ reading comprehension(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Su, YudanIn recent years, the incorporation of multimedia into linguistic input has opened a new horizon in the field of second language acquisition (SLA). In the reading aspect, the advent of virtual reality (VR) technology extends the landscape of reading repertoire by engaging learners with auditory, visual and tactile multimodal input. However, few studies have yet examined the pedagogical potential of VR technology in enhancing learners’ reading comprehension. This study aims to fill this gap by assessing the effects of VR-assisted multimodal input on learners’ expository reading comprehension. Three classes including 140 Chinese 8th grade EFL students participate in this study, and these classes are randomly assigned into two experimental groups and one control group: VR-assisted multimodal text group, video-assisted multimodal text group and print-based monomodal text group. This study adopts mixed methods methodology and triangulates pre-post-retention tests, questionnaires and interview data to compare three modes of text input on learners’ reading performance and explore learners’ cognitive processing in the multimodal learning environment. This study is the first attempt to integrate VR technology with input presentation and cognitive processing in second language reading comprehension and offered a new line of theorisation of VR-assisted multimodal learning in the cognitive field of SLA. Item Open AccessA hole in my stocking: Disrupting power through play in the Kickstarter Creative Arts project(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Green, AlisonThis article focuses on the importance of play as a necessary and developmental tool for creating democratic spaces in rural South African Primary schools through examples in the Kickstarter Creative Arts pilot project case study (The KS project). The KS project is an Educational teacher empowerment and artist in residency programme, designed as a case study to assess the impact of the Creative Arts at the Intermediate level (Grade 4, 5 and 6). The project illustrates how play, as supported by Winnicott and Vygotsky, is developmental and can be a mechanism for greater humanization in the classroom. The metaphor of a stocking is employed to advocate for experience, as per the work of John Dewey. As the methodology of the Kickstarter project is experiential, it encourages personal artistic growth for teachers, allowing play and creating shifts in the power dynamics and relationship between teachers and pupils within the classroom. As teachers engage with a democratic approach, they find learners more willing, more empathetic and more engaged. It is proposed that the KS project become aligned with the Basic Department of Education and rolled out nationwide in South Africa for the “Arts as method” approach to all subjects. Item Open AccessEmbodied meaning making: A case study investigating the use of gesture in the responses of year 1 children to a wordless picturebook(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Hulston, Samantha JayneThis research paper explores how embodied communication modes affect the dialogic meaning making of year 1 children when responding to wordless picturebooks. Through observing the paired interactions of children, it appears that children are able to use gesture to navigate between intra-dialogic and inter-dialogic meaning making. A review of the literature identifies talk as a key strategy for meaning making (Mercer, 1994; Alexander, 2011). However, the theory of multimodality is used to support the claim that attention should be paid to how children use embodied modes, specifically gesture, as part of meaning making. It is suggested that this is of significance to year 1 children as they have recently experienced the Early Years Foundation Stage, which supports the use of multimodal resources and responses. Methodologically, this research paper is rooted in qualitative, naturalistic inquiry. This approach was selected for its ability to allow for ‘thick description’ of complex interactions (Geertz, 1993). The research design involved a small-scale, theory-seeking case study that used unstructured video observations. This resulted in multimodal data. Inductive coding, influenced by constructivist grounded theory, was applied to the gestural content of the data. These codes were then grouped into themes that suggested how children used embodied modes to manage space, identify narrative entities, make connections across those entities and to imagine beyond what is immediately present in a visual text. The latter two themes involve creative ‘possibility thinking’ (Craft, 2000). The prominence of creative ‘possibility thinking’ makes a case for recognising the value of embodied modes as part of meaning making for year 1 children. However, it is recognised that the research presented is preliminary and the field of embodied meaning making in primary schools deserves further research. Item Open AccessBecoming a leader? A narrative inquiry into the leadership practice of an English Language Centre Administrator of a higher education institution in Hong Kong(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Yu, AnoraThis paper presents a narrative inquiry into an English Language Centre Administrator of a higher education institution in Hong Kong, China. The participant of this narrative inquiry, Angel, was invited to take up a new role of the Department of English. Using narrative inquiry as a research method and intersecting the narrative analysis by drawing on Bush’s (2010) three dimensions of leadership, the author evaluated Angel’s role as an English Language Centre Administrator and made meaning of her perceptions and contested her assumed responsibilities and the responsibilities she has been assuming. Among the three leadership dimensions suggested by Bush – influence, values and vision, it was perceived that from the participant’s personal practical experience, the three dimensions were not of equal weighting or did not emerge in a linear sequence. Values and vision may be the driving force of the participant’s leadership practice whereas influence may or may not be intentional. It is hoped that the findings will facilitate readers to generate a new understanding of educational leadership, management and administration and gain an insight into the reconceptualisation of leadership. By bringing forth the participant’s first-hand accounts, it is also hoped that this paper may have useful implications for those who are taking up a new role of an organisation, be it fledging or well-established, to excel themselves. Item Open AccessUnderstanding Education and Understanding Yourself as a Refugee Learner Seeking Access to Higher Education in Malaysia: Insights from a Pilot Study(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Birtwell, Jonathan JosephThis article presents findings from a PhD pilot study exploring access to higher education for students in a protracted refugee situation in Malaysia. The study seeks to understand access from the students’ perspective through a consideration of the ways in which they understand education and how, in turn, they construct understandings about themselves. The study uses a socio-cultural approach of learner identity to explore the personal meanings students develop, focussing specifically on concepts of internal and external recognition and their interaction. Three students with refugee backgrounds currently enrolled on higher education programmes were interviewed and data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The analysis involved a model of co-production in which participants were consulted regarding the interpretation of the results prior to publication and had the opportunity to contribute to the meanings that emerge. The results show that education is central to students regaining a sense of self after having their learning trajectories abruptly severed upon seeking asylum. Considering processes of internal and external recognition reveals how a new socio-cultural context influences the understandings students develop about themselves in relation to education. This is manifest through their changing subject choice at the tertiary level and a renewed appreciation for the value of education. It also provides a means to understand how concealing their refugee status influences their relationships with other students on campus. These patterns of interaction are shaped through a dual layer of being perceived-to-be-perceived as they interpret others’ actions to suggest they are being recognised as refugee students despite not having revealed their status. Item Open AccessTo mix or not to mix: A critical review of literature on mixed-age groups in primary schools(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Cronin, ZoeIn this review, I explore mixed-age grouping in primary schools, illustrating, through a review of scholarly research, its position within current education paradigms and in the field of education research. I justify my investigation into this topic and explicate my literature search procedure, considering the difficulties around establishing consistent terminology in mixed-age research. I explain various circumstances that give rise to mixed-age groupings and propose using four circumstantial categories – default, by-product, mandate, and preference – as a conceptual framework for understanding mixed-age phenomena. I then summarize findings from methodologically diverse inquiries into the effects of mixed-age grouping. These studies, conducted over the last sixty years, focus on many forms of mixed-age groups from around the world and consider both academic and social outcomes. Broadly speaking, outcome-based findings are inconsistent across time and place. Systematically measured differences are often small or non-existent. In the context of ambiguous empirical findings, I discuss the perspectives held by parents, teachers, and researchers around mixed-age grouping and highlight limitations of utilizing findings from comparative studies to inform education practice. I position the outcomes of my reviewed literature within the proposed circumstantial framework and discuss the implications of this standpoint. I deconstruct arguments for and against mixed-age grouping by posing the question “to mix or not to mix”, offering apparent reasoning for each position. I extend my perspective on the future of mixed-age research, focusing on the need for thorough description and clear definition of all investigated mixed-age groups, and conclude by critically considering mixed-age grouping as a promising education reform. Item Open AccessHow to avoid ‘Christmas Tree’ innovations: introducing and sustaining the use of learning platforms in schools(Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2019-10-01) Chatterton, SueThis paper reports the results of a study investigating teacher stakeholder views of the range of leadership factors that influenced their use during the first two years of a new Virtual Learning Environment (Firefly) in a comprehensive school in London. The research was broadened to include ten schools in total. Implications are identified as well as suggestions for further research. According to much of the research reviewed, maximising the benefits of a VLE is dependent on how teachers perceive innovations in general. However, some evidence was found that leaders do have an impact on the take-up of technology in schools. The determination of the overall school leader to bring transformation and modernity to the school was found to have an effect on the uptake of initiatives that are expensive and risky in the sense that they rely on new skills and knowledge that do not at first seem relevant to some teachers. The process also involves risk because of the pace of technological change. This research aims to bring together the two factors: teacher perception and leadership of change. The aim is to help school leaders ensure successful take-up and sustaining of use so that innovations, that they introduce, are not short-lived. Key questions within the evaluation survey draw on theories of leadership and on findings from the literature review about technology acceptance. The research is summarised in a visual representation of how leaders can leverage their influence, both with the initial introduction and the sustaining of the technology, to avoid the ‘Christmas Tree’ innovation effect: in other words, a purely ornamental technology that quickly goes out of date or fails to serve its primary purpose of improving learning (Bryk, 1992, p. 7).