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Teaching and Learning in Middle Schooling: A Review of the Literature

Publication Details

This paper is a summary of a review of literature carried out in 2007 for the Ministry of Education by Dinham and Rowe of the Australian Council for Educational Research.

Their review, and the summary presented here, are components of a Ministry research programme focused on teaching and learning in the middle schooling years. Other projects within the programme include: a "Study of Students’ Transition from Primary to Secondary Schooling"; an investigation of the skills, knowledge and values that may be required by teachers to most effectively meet the needs of Years 7 to 10 students; and an in-depth analysis of ‘student engagement’ during the middle schooling years.

Author(s): Ministry of Education

Date Published: March 2009

After this document was finalised, the Ministry received the sad news that Doctor Ken Rowe, co-author of the review, had lost his life in the devastating fires in Victoria, Australia.

The Ministry would like to pay tribute to Doctor Rowe and his lifetime's work in education. 

Preliminary Note

This paper is a summary of a review of literature carried out in 2007 for the Ministry of Education by Dinham and Rowe of the Australian Council for Educational Research.1

Their review, together with the summary presented here, are components of a Ministry research programme focused on teaching and learning in the middle schooling years. Other projects within the programme include: a "Study of Students’ Transition from Primary to Secondary Schooling"; an investigation of the skills, knowledge and values that may be required by teachers to most effectively meet the needs of Years 7 to 10 students; and an in-depth analysis of ‘student engagement’ during the middle schooling years.2

The reviewers scrutinised a range of recent literature on middle schooling for the purposes of the review, including pertinent research that they have been involved in.

The review document provides a valuable ‘way in’ to increasing understanding about the thinking behind or rationale for the concept of ‘middle schooling’, and what has been learned about factors involved in effective teaching and learning practice for ‘middle years’ students. It also highlights issues and concerns for consideration, and suggests ideas, as well as cautions, regarding ‘next steps’ for research, policy, and practice in middle schooling.

The reviewers point out however that certain ideas or conclusions reached on the basis of the reviewed literature represent their own particular views and that these do not necessarily coincide with those of the Ministry of Education.

The Content of this Paper

This paper includes:

  • a brief background to and rationale for commissioning a review of the middle schooling  literature, plus explanatory notes about this summary report;
  • an outline of the context for and philosophy of the ‘middle schooling’ movement, including definitions of key concepts;
  • a note about the history of middle schooling in New Zealand and like countries;
  • identification of key concerns of middle schooling;
  • reference to middle schooling initiatives, and the question of whether ‘middle schooling makes a difference’;
  •  identification of difficulties that can arise when implementing middle schooling initiatives, and comments on current status and future directions for reform; and
  • key requirements for successful middle schooling initiatives.

The paper concludes with a recap of key points raised throughout the review document.

A Definition

In the present context, students in the middle schooling years are defined as students in Years 7 to 10 (in a range of school types) within the New Zealand education system and who are, generally speaking, aged between 10 and 15 years.

 

Footnotes

  1. The purpose of this shortened version of Professor Stephen Dinham’s and Dr Ken Rowe’s (2007) review of literature on teaching and learning in middle schooling is to provide ready access to the wealth of information presented in the considerably more detailed version presented by the reviewers.

    Most of the time the reviewers’ original wording has been retained in this summarised version, except where it has been necessary to ‘bridge’ certain paragraphs or sections following omission of some material. (Most material omitted for present purposes was that which served to illustrate various points in more depth.)

    And in order to keep this summary as ‘clean’ as possible, some of the citations (names of researchers, projects, passages from particular reports) incorporated into the main text of Dinham and Rowe’s report have been removed while others have been replaced with numbers to refer the reader to relevant details given in the endnotes listed below.

    For full referencing details for the body of literature reviewed, refer to Dinham and Rowe’s report, Teaching and Learning in Middle Schooling: a review of the literature — a report to the New Zealand Ministry of Education, (100p.). This may be downloaded from the 'Education Counts' website.

    Professor Dinham, Research Director, Teaching, Learning and Leadership Program, may be contacted at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), 19 Prospect Hill Road (Private Bag 55), Camberwell, VIC 3124, Australia. His email address is: dinham@acer.edu.au. And Dr Ken Rowe, recently retired from the position of Research Director, Learning Processes Research Program at ACER, is now Director, Rowe Research and Consulting Services, Mont Albert, Victoria 3124, Australia — www.roweresearch.com.au; or email krowe@bigpond.net.au.
  2. Reports on A Study of Students’ Transition from Primary to Secondary Schooling have recently been released. For further information visit the Transition from Primary to Secondary School here on 'Education Counts'.

    Another project currently underway is looking at whether teachers of Years 7 to 10 students require specialised knowledge, skills and values in order to teach these students in ways that best suit their needs. The study is being undertaken by Lisa Ng of the Ministry’s Research and Evaluation Unit and Nicky Durling, of the Learning and Teaching Policy and Evaluation team. Queries may be made via email address: research.info@minedu.govt.nz

    The Ministry has also recently commissioned further research to help define and better understand ‘student engagement’ during the middle schooling years.


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