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What Makes Great Pedagogy?

We believe that the success of the pedagogy at South Farnham Teaching School can be linked to a high level of understanding of the cognitive domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is explicit in the South Farnham curriculum planning and design. However, we noted that, through observations of the teaching staff, the Affective Domain was also being demonstrated strongly. The challenge was to measure to what extent that affective domain is consistently applied, whether it can be applied in more than one setting, and how the learning context within the school in question supports this domain. Moved by the idea that “any instruction that includes these qualities is likely to result in the desired attitude formation or change” (Miller, 2005), we wanted to investigate whether the use of the affective domain would help to define or produce a transferable pedagogy for use in other settings. This would, in turn, also support our SLE and NLE work as a National Support School and develop abilities and thinking when supporting schools in difficult circumstances.

The affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, Masia, 1973) includes the manner in which we deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes. The five major stages; receiving, responding, valuing, organising, internalising , are all practices actively promoted in lessons by our teachers, demonstrated through quality teaching with active facilitation of discussions to share opinions and beliefs. Our focus was on how teachers engaged with the affective aspects of learning and teaching, and to ascertain the impact of deliberate and mindful incorporation of the affective domain.

Set within the interpretivist paradigm, and using a mixed method approach, three school contexts were used to explore the relational engagements fostered in a range of learning opportunities in the classroom.  The research team adopted a social constructivist approach to formulate the questionnaires; a pilot was used so as to ascertain if the words and their meanings assumed by the researchers were shared more widely across both the pupil and teacher populations of the schools.

This was helpful in also building up a deeper recognition of the hierarchy of experience intended by Bloom and his team originally in 1956.

The teaching observations confirmed that the staff in all three settings were demonstrating engagement with the affective domain. For example, aspects of valuing, receiving, monitoring were evident across all lessons observed. This enabled us to recognise that the teachers’ attitude towards embracing the pedagogy, including the behaviour policy, professionalism as expected in the staff handbook and treatment of the children, was based on Bloom’s Affective domain.

Taking on a new school in difficulty has allowed us to ‘test’, the transferable nature of the chosen pedagogy. So far, results from SLE teacher observations and team teaching and following INSET on the use of AfL, planning and assessment have demonstrated a positive impact to learning shown through greater pupil engagement. Teachers’ practices have been recorded as generally improved at this early stage in enabling pupils to give “statements of opinions, beliefs, or an assessment of worth” (Smith & Ragan, 1999). However, use of the affective domain is highlighted most acutely in this setting through a radical cultural shift in behaviour management ideology and the implementation of a new behaviour policy.