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

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Section 4: Limitations/Scope of the Review

The reviewers noted that while there is a great deal of published material on middle schooling, much of it involves 'opinion and advocacy'. By contrast, they found there is a '…paucity of quantitative studies employing strong evidence-based RCT [randomised control trial] methods that have investigated the relative effects of various forms of middle/non-middle schooling …'. Their review therefore focused on 'critically reviewing trends and themes in the predominantly non-quantitative published literature', supplemented where possible with findings from relevant, quantitative studies and evidence-based reports and reviews'. Dinham and Rowe emphasise that a particular challenge is that while middle schooling is relatively under-researched, there are strong views on the subject, both for and against, and that it is necessary to ensure that available literature is carefully examined and critiqued.

A further challenge to be kept in mind is that 'the wide range of types and approaches to middle schooling can make evidence-based comparisons and data collection of middle school performance difficult'.