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CERJ: Volume 9


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  • ItemOpen Access
    Usage-Inspired Insights into Second Language Learning: A Comparative Review of Usage-Based Studies on Vocabulary Development
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Cheung, Allison; Cheung, Allison [0000-0001-9205-1275]
    This paper examines how usage-based perspectives make contributions to insights about second language (L2) learning in the field of education. It first locates usage-based approaches in language learning, in particular L2 learning. It moves on to highlight two key usage-based features, namely frequency and salience, that have been applied successfully in the context of L2 learning and particularly in the two selected usage-based studies in this paper. Based on these two core features and chosen pieces of research, this paper aims to underpin usage-based investigations on lexical development in L2 learners, which is believed to not yet be researched substantially in the field. In marked contrast to the paucity of such studies, this paper seeks to illustrate how research focus on vocabulary learning could complement the predominantly studied acquisition of syntactic constructions. Despite the real likelihood of conducting usage-based lexical analyses, this paper subsequently counterargues that considerable limitations exist in researching lexicons from usage-based approaches. With a view to fulfilling these study aims, a comparative analysis of two chosen studies was carried out to draw on empirical evidence, affording usage-inspired insights into L2 learning in the educational discipline.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Relationship Between Depth of Vocabulary Knowledge and Chinese Non-English Majors’ L2 Lexical Inferencing Strategy Use and Success
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Li, Junlong
    The present study aims to explore the correlation between Chinese non-English majors’ depth of vocabulary knowledge (DVK) and their lexical inferencing strategy use and inferential success in English as a foreign language (EFL) reading comprehension. With Qian and Lin’s DVK framework (2020) and Nassaji’s classification of the lexical inferencing strategies (2003) as the theoretical foundation, this mixed methods study investigates 40 third-year non-English major participants, who are categorised into the low-intermediate DVK level (LIL) group and the high-intermediate DVK level (HIL) group. The major findings reveal that: (1) The HIL learners adopted more strategies of word associations, discourse knowledge, and world knowledge, while the LIL learners chose more strategies regarding homonymy, morphology, and sentence-level grammatical knowledge. (2) The HIL learners made more effective use of all types of strategies. However, when both groups utilised the strategies of word associations and sentence-level grammatical knowledge, the difference in their inferential success was not remarkable. (3) Participants’ different choices on strategy use were mainly caused by their understanding of vocabulary meanings and lexical collocations. The LIL learners tended to be attracted to the sound relationships, word forms, and sentence structures, whilst the HIL learners were adept at internalising mnemonic techniques, contextual clues, and their common sense, and thus they focused more on the relationship between unknown words and the whole text. (4) The HIL learners’ inferential success was attributed to both their richer accumulation of vocabulary meanings as well as collocations and their higher degree of risk taking in lexical inferencing. Findings of this study may help Chinese college English teachers effectively with the training of English vocabulary and reading by offering pedagogical implications for non-English majors’ DVK improvement and lexical inferencing strategy development.
  • ItemOpen Access
    ‘Gender’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Female’: Gender Minorities’ Exclusion in Development Education as Ontological Violence
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Goldbach, Ethan J.
    This paper explores the intersections of gender, education, and international development, specifically noting the spaces in which gender minorities are either highlighted or discounted. It begins by providing a basic introduction to the history of conceptualizations of gender in education for international development settings as a way of foregrounding how the term ‘gender’ has become ubiquitous within the field to mean ‘female.’ It uses this background to explore both the invisibilization of gender minorities and the intersectional ways in which systemic violence is perpetuated against them. The sources analysed in this paper range from the past 20 years of academic findings from major journals across educational fields, Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals policy documents, and the GEM Report 2020 (which focused on gender equality in education). Because the explicit inclusion of non-cisgender identities in education settings is defined as a crucial tool in preventing violence against gender minorities (Meyer & Keenan, 2018), this paper argues that the decision to ignore and exclude gender minorities in international education development research therefore 1) contributes to the systemic forces of violence that they face and 2) is itself an act of ontological violence as well.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A literature review of gender equity in national textbooks across the MENA region and the implications for CEDAW
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Ryan, Seneca
    In recent decades, girls’ education across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has made notable gains. The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) treaty agreement has successfully facilitated the improvement of girls’ access in many countries. However, there is growing concern about the quality of classroom content and how it continues to marginalize females. This review examines ten studies from seven countries across the region and highlights how discriminatory patterns continue to exist in national textbooks. It then looks at how policy and political settlements address gender equity in national curricula and discusses the implications for women and girls in relation to CEDAW.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A Review of the Literature on the Role of Non-formal Education in Promoting Girls’ Education in South Asia
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Poteet, Katherine S.
    Many girls in South Asia face significant barriers in accessing education. However, non-formal education (NFE) programs are sometimes able to address or work around these barriers to reach and teach girls who would otherwise be unable to attend the traditional school system in their region. This study provides a comprehensive review of peer-reviewed, scholarly articles about NFE and girls’ education in South Asia to describe the strengths and weaknesses of NFE programs in reaching these girls. First, it provides a thorough explanation of what NFE is and the primary actors involved in its deliverance. Next, it identifies common barriers to education faced by girls in South Asia, including distance to schools, conflict, conservative cultural norms and practices, and inappropriate or irrelevant curricula. Then, it briefly describes some challenges that NFE programs face in delivering education to girls in South Asia, such as concerns relating to sustainability and proper certification for learning. It suggests that future NFE programs should focus on these shortcomings and highlights the lack of attention to educational quality compared to educational access in NFE research and programming.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A Review of Gender Representation in Primary School Textbooks in India
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Kadri, Medha
    The curriculum is regulated by the sociocultural aspects, political ideologies, values and morals of the ecosystem it is created in. When the ecosystem is a South Asian country like India, especially post-colonisation, the hyper focus on nation building led to clearly differentiated gender roles to protect the moral and cultural integrity of the state. The purpose of this review is to critically explore the existing literature to understand how gender is represented in primary school textbooks in India. The review highlights the temporal and historical evolution of gender-based curriculum reforms in India while illuminating patterns in the literature through themes such as visibility, portrayal and intersectionalities of gender. This review is restricted to the last 25 years, following the National Education Policy of 1986. Subsequent to this policy introduction, textbook analysis became more commonplace. Additionally, the review addresses the potential impact caused by such textbooks and recommendations made by various Indian researchers are also highlighted in this review.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Role of Parents in the Education of their Children with Disabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Review of the Literature
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Smith, Bridget
    Parents of children with disabilities (CWDs) play important and varied roles in their children’s education. Policies, including the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), underscore the need for parent-teacher partnerships to improve a child’s learning environment. This paper explores the extent to which countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have integrated the UNCRPD’s tenets on parental involvement in inclusive education into their own cultural contexts. To achieve this, the paper analyzes the literature written on parents of CWDs in the Sub-Saharan context to identify the different conceptualizations of the roles played by parents in the education of their CWDs. Findings of the literature review reflect consistent barriers faced by and responsibilities expected of parents of CWDs in educational settings. Future research should focus directly on parents of CWDs’ experiences in schools.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Pen and Paper Cyborgs: Queer Embodiment in Baum and Denslow’s The New Wizard of Oz
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Stone, Emma Tueller
    The Wizard of Oz has often been depicted as a Queer text. Its pop cultural references extend from monikers for queer identities (i.e., friend of Dorothy) to a general Judy Garland fandom to iconic drag performances. However, very little attention has been paid to the original children’s literature source of the many queer forms of The Wizard of Oz. Using theories of reproductive futurism and cyborg bodies, this paper interprets the many ways in which the inhabitants of Oz manifest queer embodiment and perform non-cis-heteronormative identity within the text. This analysis focuses especially on a 1903 illustrated edition of The New Wizard of Oz and the role the archive can have in creating new ways to interpret classic children’s literature texts. The tangibility of the archival materials also contributes to the idea that making and unmaking corporeality can dramatically influence the potential queer interpretations of an imagined world.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Pushing metacognition: an evaluation of the use of process interviews as a means of talking to international students about their learning
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Cotterill, Richard
    Conducting research into how students learn is exceptionally difficult. The metacognition required for a student to explain their learning process necessitates drawing on complex conceptual ideas. For international students who are not operating in their first language, the vocabulary involved in such explanations forms a further obstacle. My doctoral action research required the elicitation of explanations from postgraduate international students about the ways, and the extent to which, the use of visual metaphors in lectures contributes to understanding abstract concepts. This was achieved using process interviews. The interviews, conducted in small groups, involved a staged process in which participants completed tasks, then described and evaluated the outcomes from them. While the metacognitive demands were not completely removed, the use of process interviews generated rich data that provided valuable insights into the students’ learning and the circumstances in which visual metaphors helped to unlock meaning. Although presenting the findings from the research is beyond the scope of this paper, it is asserted that these insights would not have been possible without the use of process interviews. This paper provides an evaluation of process interviews as a data collection method.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Relationship between Secondary Education and Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of the Literature
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Grimmer, Lasse
    Education plays a vital role in a person's life as it provides them with the necessary knowledge, skills and tools needed for the working world later on. With the introduction of the Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals in the 21st century by the international community, more children, especially in Africa, are attending school. With fast-growing economies, such as Kenya and Ghana, and the Sustainable Development Goals' particular focus on secondary education, the relationship between secondary education and economic development becomes fascinating. While most studies on this topic have looked at primary education's association with economic growth, this literature review tries to fill the gap in the academic literature by documenting and analysing the relationship between secondary education and economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. A general overview of the field and three detailed case studies are given. In addition, human capital theory is used to explain how people acquire knowledge and use it to their benefit to contribute and be productive in an economy. For this literature review, six major academic research databases have been searched for quantitative studies examining the relationship between education and economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most studies found a positive association between secondary education, largely proxied through enrolment rates, and national economic growth. This shows that investments in secondary education can boost local economies and provide people with more opportunities. However, more research must be conducted as the quality of education has been neglected in studies examining the relationship between secondary education and economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Books Saving lives? Critiquing the Conceptualisation of Education as Humanitarian Aid
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Teh, Henrietta
    In recent decades, the world has witnessed an increase in violent and protracted conflicts. Education in Emergencies (EiE) as a field has emerged since the 1990s in response to these rising conflicts and disasters together with the realisation that children living in these situations often spend years without access to schooling. As EiE has grown, it has successfully positioned education as a key aspect of humanitarian aid. This paper focuses upon literature on conflict emergencies, including refugee and displaced populations. Through a review of the historical perspectives and development of EiE, this critical paper unveils that despite the conceptualisation of EiE as aid, it is not apolitical. By analysing the literature by prominent scholars and practitioners in EiE, the paper allows us to bear witness to the success of the rise of EiE which has developed from the power dynamics of the humanitarian aid infrastructure, governed by Western agendas and financing. In addition, the short-term vision and packaged nature of education to create normalcy supported by a rights-based and protection rationale has prevented the international development and aid sector from addressing wider structural issues and inequalities. The technical notions of EiE are revealed to be often detached from realities of communities and fail to empower and create quality learning opportunities. The paper calls for the immediate need to provide quality education to children in conflict and displacement settings but urges EiE to address the tensions and power relations examined between technical solutions, political agendas and security interests that remain at the core of the field’s evolution.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Using a Participatory Approach to Explore What Young Girls and Their Teachers Want from Physical Activity Interventions in Primary School
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Hutson, Nicky; Gibson, Jenny
    Evidence suggests that young girls are less likely than boys to be physically active at school and are less responsive to physical activity interventions. This study employs a participatory case study approach to explore what young girls and their teachers want from physical activity interventions during the school day. The project aims to distance itself from a hierarchical researcher-participant dynamic and make sense of the issues through a shared conceptualisation and co-researching partnership. One class of British Year 2 girls, their class teacher and their head teacher participated in this study. The girls and their teachers designed their own physical activity intervention, implemented it, measured changes in step count (using pedometers) pre- and post-intervention and reflected on the process. Qualitative data were gathered via focus groups with the girls and semi-structured interviews with their teachers. Key themes that emerged were a desire for choice in how they were active, and an interest in working together as a team within a social framework to increase activity.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Engagement and Burnout in UK University Students: The Role of Proactive Behaviours Strengths Use and Deficits Correction
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Smith, Donna; Tytherleigh, Michelle; Smith, Donna [0000-0001-7566-9807]; Tytherleigh, Michelle [0000-0003-2498-8175]
    Low engagement and high burnout have serious implications for university students’ mental health and wellbeing. Strengths use and deficits correction are two proactive behaviours found to predict engagement and burnout, but these had not been explored in UK university students. This study investigated the role of strengths use and deficits correction in engagement and burnout by using the Strengths Use and Deficits Correction scale (SUDCO; Van Woerkom et al., 2016), a proactive behaviour measure not previously used in a UK student population. A convenience sample of 133 UK university students from all levels of study, undergraduate and postgraduate, completed a self-report questionnaire, either online or in person. The results demonstrated that the SUDCO scale had high internal consistency for UK university students. In addition, this study found that engagement was independently predicted by strengths use and deficits correction behaviours, whereas burnout was independently predicted by strengths use only. The implications of these findings are that strengths use and deficits correction are important predictors of engagement and burnout in university students. As a result, universities should provide opportunities for students to use their strengths and improve their deficits in interventions designed to increase engagement and decrease burnout.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Reviewing Different Types of Working Memory Training on Reading Ability among Children with Reading Difficulties
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Shen, Linling; Tsapali, Maria
    This review evaluates the effectiveness of different types of working memory training on reading performance among children with reading difficulties. Reading performance is closely related to academic achievement whilst working memory (WM) serves as a crucial cognitive component to reading. Some researchers believe that WM training can improve WM capacity, intelligence and other cognitive functions. However, whether the effect extends to reading performance has rarely been examined. According to the multi-component WM model, the current review classifies WM training into domain-general, domain-specific (verbal WM and visuospatial WM), and mixed training and evaluates their effectiveness to reading ability correspondingly. According to the existing studies, verbal WM training seems to be most effective for improving reading ability, while other types of training show effects on WM or cognitive skills but only limited effects for reading. Limitations of these findings and reasons for transfer failure are discussed.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    The Role of Teachers in Adolescents’ Career-Specific Future Orientation
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Anwuzia, Esther; McLellan, Ros
    Despite the importance of teachers and the school context to adolescents’ career development, teachers’ influence on adolescents’ career preparation has received little attention. This study examined the relationship between perceived support from teachers and adolescents’ career motivation and exploration. The sample for this study (N = 801) comprised senior secondary school students in Nigeria (Mean = 15.23 years) and data was analysed using structural equation modelling. Perceived teacher invested support, teacher expectations, and teacher autonomy support were related to intrinsic motivation to choose a career and career exploration. This study is relevant to research and practice in its investigation of the neglected role of teachers in adolescents’ career development and its inclusion of an understudied population in the discourse on adolescents’ future orientation.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Framing Childhood Resilience Through Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory: A Discussion Paper
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Antony, Evelyn Mary-Ann; Antony, Evelyn Mary-Ann [0000-0003-1590-1736]
    Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory (1979) conceptualises children’s development as a process of bi-directional and reciprocal relationships between a developing individual and those in surrounding environments, including teachers, parents, mass media and neighbouring communities. Using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, this paper will argue that resilience can be taught during childhood, from the complex social interactions that children have with parents to the interactions they have in school. First, there will be a focus on how resilience emerges from children’s individual personality traits and emotional intelligence. Bi-directional and reciprocal relationships will be addressed by focusing on the effects of parental abandonment on children’s attachment styles, as well as parent-focused interventions. Following this, the role of teachers and school-based interventions (SBIs) will be explored as sources for bolstering resilience among children. Alternative perspectives on resilience pathways, including meaning-oriented approaches and those that recognise the impact of broader influences beyond the microsystem (e.g., culture and media), will also be addressed in this paper. Finally, implications of resilience research for play-based approaches and educational psychologists will be discussed.
  • ItemOpen Access
    What Role Does Working Memory Play in Primary School Reading Achievement?
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Rogers, Thomas; Rogers, Thomas [0000-0001-6728-7315]
    Working memory (WM) has consistently been related to reading ability, but the precise nature of this relationship remains unclear. This systematic review aims to evaluate the different pathways by which working memory may influence reading. The included papers were categorised into direct, indirect, and hierarchical effect models and presented using a narrative synthesis. The findings suggest that working memory has an indirect impact on reading ability as part of a hierarchical relationship via lower and higher order cognitive abilities. Furthermore, the nature of this relationship changes over time. As skills such as decoding become automatic, the role of WM is reduced and reserved for more complex comprehension. This review sheds light on the relationship between working memory and reading and may help to frame future research into the topic.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Intercorrelation Between Executive Function, Physics Problem Solving, Mathematical, and Matrix Reasoning Skills: Reflections from a Small-Scale Experiment
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Tsigaridis, Konstantinos G.; Wang, Rui; Ellefson, Michelle R.; Tsigaridis, Konstantinos G. [0000-0003-4570-2455]; Wang, Rui [0000-0001-8186-4254]; Ellefson, Michelle R. [0000-0003-0407-9767]
    There are now many studies in the disciplines of psychology, neuroscience, and education concerning the contribution of executive function skills to the student learning process during school. Less work has been conducted on links with executive function skills and science, especially physics, compared to other school subjects. Here, we focus on physics problem solving skills because they are core elements of physics instruction in secondary education. In addition, teachers are concerned that students are not reaching the desired level of physics problems solving ability by the end of formal schooling. Physics problem solving skills seem to rely on strong mathematical skills, an area where there is robust evidence of links to executive function skills. In addition, matrix reasoning skills seem to impact executive function and mathematical skills. However, little is known about the complex links between these skills. Such work would elucidate cognitive processes underlying physics problem solving. In this small-scale study, 20 Greek high school students (Mage = 16.81 years, SD = 1.87) completed a battery of tasks measuring executive function, physics problem solving, mathematics, and matrix reasoning skills. The results indicated strong positive correlations between physics problem solving skills and mathematical skills. One of the executive function skills (i.e., switching) had significant positive correlations with physics problem solving and mathematical skills. Matrix reasoning skills positively correlated with physics problem solving and mathematical skills, and two of the executive function skills (i.e., switching and working memory). These findings suggest complex intercorrelations between executive function, physics problem solving, mathematical, and matrix reasoning skills. These findings could be the springboard for further studies involving more detailed measurements of these skills. In the long run, results from this type of work could lead to designing pedagogical interventions in physics education based on executive function skills to address teachers' concerns about students’ acquisition of physics problem solving skills.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Evaluating the impact of technology-supported personalised learning interventions on the mathematics achievements of elementary students in India
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Tailor, Kavita
    Technology-supported personalised learning (TSPL) refers to the use of technology to personalise a learner’s experience by adjusting the pace and relevance of content based on the learner’s age, capability and prior knowledge (FitzGerald et al., 2018). Although technology has been epitomised in creating personalised and effective learning experiences for students, there are perennial debates on its role in enhancing quality, productivity and learning (Payal Arora, 2019; Zierer, 2019). This review explores the effectiveness of TSPL on the mathematics achievements of elementary students in India. This review argues that while evidence on using TSPL at scale to benefit all learners remains mixed and inconclusive, with continued iterative research, TSPL holds promise in serving learners’ needs irrespective of achievement level or socio-economic background. In doing so, this review outlines an agenda for future research to improve the efficiency, reach, and effectiveness of TSPL. This involves gaining a deeper understanding of whether TSPL works best as either a supplement or substitute in classrooms and the impacts of doing so in different quality schools. Mechanisms around how TSPL interventions can operate via low-tech mechanisms to better serve low-income communities and to advantage students of all learning abilities are also explored.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Employing Visual Narrative to Alternate Readers’ Perspective: A Case Study of Boxers & Saints
    (CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2022-11-30) Wang, Yi
    Over the recent decade, interdisciplinary research in literature has witnessed a burgeoning interest in visual narratives such as picture books and comics. Despite some scholars’ acknowledgement of their transformative value, the field still remains debatable as others question the universality of visual language. This study uses Boxers & Saints as an example to join this debate and explore the effects that visual techniques can produce in readers. Boxers & Saints is a graphic novel created by Gene Luen Yang, which depicts the racial and ethnic conflicts during the Boxers Movement. By employing unique and creative artistic techniques such as the diptych form, contrastive colour palettes and visual braiding, Yang intends to help readers alternate between double perspectives and see the connection between the two seemingly opposing sides, thus developing a more nuanced way of thinking about the historical past and conflicts. Drawing upon reader-response theory and a cognitive approach to comics, this study conducts empirical research to investigate how and to what extent comics can help readers lay aside their preset beliefs and alternate between different perspectives. By conducting interviews with two participants—a Chinese and a British Catholic—and studying their responses to the selected panels in the book, this study questions the take-for-granted universality of visual language and reveals how preset beliefs influence the way they switch between different perspectives. The study ends with implications for future interdisciplinary research in comics and literature: what ethical considerations future researchers should attend to while doing interdisciplinary research in literature, what specific questions can be asked for future research regarding the cognitive approach to visual language, and how to tailor the research design for specific questions.