Seating plans and multiple-choice tests: a study into their effect on pupils aged 12-15 in mathematics in a South Wales secondary school.
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
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The focus of this small-scale research has been twofold; firstly, the use of multiple choice testing; and secondly, the effect of different seating plans on attainment. Both aspects have been researched in the field of mathematics. The difference in attainment between boys and girls has been widely reported for many years, and this research investigated these two strategies and their effect on the attainment gap. Expert opinions were collated to form a theoretical basis for the research, which detailed the apparent preference of multiple-choice tests by boys, but there was very little previous research on the academic benefit of seating plans. Previous research shows many strategies have been implemented to aim to overcome this poorer attainment in boys, but ethical issues remain in terms of positive-discrimination in favour of boys. During this action research, questionnaires were used to obtain pupils' opinions, and standard class test were used in conjunction with multiple-choice tests to obtain concrete numerical data. Pupils from four classes were part of the research, from ages 12 to 15, and across the ability spectrum. Data were collected at six pointrs during the year, at the end of each half-term, with seating plans changing each fullterm. The research would suggestthat multiple-choice testing should be part of assessment regimes to some extent, with the majority of pupils scoring higher over the course of the year, but issues remain with understanding despite high scores. More strikingly, the results indicate that higher-ability pupils should be placed in gender-heterogeneous groups, with lower-ability pupils in gender-homogeneous groups.
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