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'Transmission' teaching may turn pupils off maths

10/09/2012 Kelly
A new university study has revealed that 'transmission' teaching, where the teacher stands at the front and dictates to the class, could be a key factor in explaining why a fifth of secondary children rate it as their least favourite subject. 

The 'Teaching and learning practices in secondary mathematics: measuring teaching from teachers' and students perspectives' report by researchers at the University of Manchester reveals that transmission-style teaching is still the main approach in today's classrooms.

Of the more than 13,000 pupils surveyed, activities such as copying the secondary teacher's notes from the board and being asked questions by the teacher were cited as common practice, ahead of learning alternative approaches detailing how maths has changed over time or using media like magazines and videos in class.

For 22 per cent of pupils, maths is their least favourite subject, while for 7.8 per cent it is their most enjoyable lesson.

On the basis of the evidence gathered, the report's authors tentatively concluded that "students engage more with maths in less transmissionist learning environments".

However, they were also quick to absolve those in teachings jobs of blame in this situation.

"Most [teachers] say 'we would prefer to do more of the non-transmission activities, but because of the pressure of preparing pupils for exams, because of the pressure of time, we cannot'," explained Dr Maria Pampaka, who worked on the study.

"Teachers have to get through the content of the curriculum and even if there are a lot of things they would like to do in lessons, often they do not have the time."

The team also noted that there is still a long way to go in the three-year Economics and Social Research Council-funded study, so they will be able to make more detailed conclusions and recommendations at a later date.

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801446090-ADNFCR
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