14 SES 02 C, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
Joint Session with NW 19
The purpose of this paper is to study teaching practices in multi-grade classes in small primary schools. A small school is defined here as a school with fewer than fifty students. Usually it is a village primary school (grades 1–6) locating in a rural area. Typically there are two or three teachers teaching different grades in the same class; this is called multi-grade or multi-age teaching (see, Cornish, 2006). Small schools are under the threat of closing in Finland and also in many other European countries. In the school year 2009–2010 there were 722 small schools in Finland. During the last twenty years, the number of small Finnish primary schools has decreased by 65%. (Statistics Finland) Closures of small schools are often explained by economic reasons: small schools are too expensive, and it is cost-effective to transport children from villages to bigger centre schools (see, e.g., Knauf, 2010, p. 162). It seems that the significance and possibilities of pedagogy in small schools have been ignored when schools are closed. For example, many school reforms have already been experienced in small schools in multi-grade classes.
As advantages of multi-grade teaching have been mentioned pupil-centred learning and teaching processes, flexible teaching, family-like and secure atmosphere, and ease of innovative change. However, there has been a lack of research in this area. The research question is, What kinds of teaching practices are used in multi-grade classes? Thus the research question focuses on the micro-level of the school pedagogy (cf. Fend, 2006, pp. 120–121) to clarify which learning and teaching possibilities and resources are supported or available in multi-grade classes. To understand pedagogy in multi-grade teaching Peter Petersen’s (1927/2001) study of multi-age group processes and Matti Koskenniemi’s (1982) ideas of social education are used as a theoretical framework.
Cornish, L. (2006). What is multi-grade teaching? In L. Cornish (ed.), Reaching EFA through multi-grade teaching (pp. 9–26). Armidale, Australia: Kardoorair Press. Fend, H. (2006). Neue Theorie der Schule. Einführung in das Verstehen von Bildungssystemen. Berlin: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Knauf, A. (2010) Kleine Grundschule in Brandenburg – eine Neueorientuerung mit jahrgangsübergreifenden Stammgruppen. In R. Laging (Ed.), Altergemischtes Lernen in der Schule 4. Ed. (pp. 160–168). Grundlagen der Schulpädagogik 28. German: Schneider Verlag Hohengehren. Koskenniemi, M. 1982. Yhdessä ja yhteistoimin [Together and collaborating]. Helsinki: Otava. Petersen, P. 1927/2001. Die Kleine Jena-Plan einer freien allgemeinen Volkschule. Based on revised edition by Petersen from 1949. Weinheim: Belz. Pink, S. 2009. Doing sensory ethnography. Sage: London. Riessman, C. K. 2008. Narrative Methods for the human sciences. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Statistics Finland. Statistics of Education 1990-2010. Vygotskij, L. 2002. Denken und Sprechen: psychologische Untersuchungen. Herausgegeben und aus dem Russischen übersetzt von Joachim Lompscher und Georg Rückriem. Weinheim: Beltz.
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