Multigrade teaching: Towards an international research and policy agenda

Education and International Development Group, Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK
International Journal of Educational Development (Impact Factor: 1.06). 11/2001; 21(6):481-497. DOI: 10.1016/S0738-0593(01)00011-6
Source: OAI


Despite its prevalence in many educational systems, multigrade teaching remains invisible. In the global effort to achieve education for all in the post-Dakar decade the needs of multigrade teachers, classes and schools must be addressed. The paper (i) explores the meaning of the term multigrade teaching in developing and industrialised countries and identifies a range of conditions under which it arises; (ii) synthesises knowledge of the practice of and research on multigrade teaching; and (iii) proposes an international agenda for future research on and dissemination of policy and practice. The agenda underlines the need for context-specific questions and comparisons, more awareness of the prevalence and challenges of multigrade teaching, more research on the practices and training needs of multigrade teaching and the exploration of synergies between teachers, curriculum, assessment and classroom organisation. It is suggested that knowledge of multigrade teaching strategies is needed by all teachers and not simply those in classes designated as ‘multigrade’.


Available from: Angela W. Little, May 11, 2015
    • "engaged in this study. Multigrade teachers teach classes comprising students from both fifth and sixth grade (Little, 2001). Teachers of all upper elementary grades were thus equally involved in the study. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Flanders, there are neither Flemish assessments nor teacher surveys to provide insights into the current practice and outcomes of writing instruction. In the present study, we provide a-state-of-the-art study of the practice of writing instruction in Flemish late elementary education by investigating: (a) how writing is taught, (b) how teachers think about writing and writing instruction, and (c) how student characteristics, teacher characteristics, and classroom writing practices correlate with students’ writing performance. In total, 128 teachers and 800 fifth- and sixth-grade students completed teacher and student questionnaires. Students also completed two writing tests (i.e., writing an informational and a narrative text). The descriptive results on the teacher questionnaire showed that upper elementary school teachers spent only about 65 minutes each week on various writing assignments in class (e.g., stories and worksheets). During these lessons, teachers primarily focused on explicit instruction of writing skills. In addition, teachers were generally positive towards writing and writing instruction and they felt self-efficacious in teaching writing. As to the relationships with students’ writing performance, multilevel analyses indicated that students with a high self-efficacy for ideation and autonomous motivation wrote qualitatively better narrative and informational texts, while students with controlled motivation were significantly less successful in writing narrative texts. Also, teacher efficacy for writing was positively correlated with students’ informational text quality. In conclusion, this study represents an important starting point in unraveling the black box of writing instruction in Flanders. However, more research is needed to further investigate correlates on student, teacher, and class levels.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Reading and Writing
  • Source
    • "Unlike these four practices, the practice of spiral curriculum (Bruner, 2006 ) offers an opportunity to cultivate the heterogeneity of students, as it allows teachers to instruct the entire class together on the same topic, deepening or expanding the material with the upper grades or advanced learners. The essential prerequisite for the successful use of spiral curriculum is the availability of suitable educational material (Little, 2001). The concept of spiral curriculum should be studied and developed further in teacher education in order to give teacher students more insight into students' hermeneutical learning, an aspect that is characteristic of spiral curriculum. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This chapter focuses on teaching practices used in multigrade classes and the importance of them being incorporated in teacher education as promising pedagogies for future use. Multigrade classes - defined as classes in which two or more grades are taught together - are common worldwide. Hence, there is a need for teacher candidates to become familiar with how to teach in split grade classrooms. However, research on multigrade teaching as well as its development in teacher education studies has been neglected, even though multigrade teachers need special skills to organize instruction in their heterogeneous classrooms. We argue that in successful multigrade teaching practices, the heterogeneity of students is taken into account and cultivated. Based on content analysis of teacher interviews conducted in Austrian and Finnish primary schools, we recommend teaching practices such as spiral curricula, working plans, and peer learning as promising teacher education pedagogies for future multigrade class teaching. We also suggest that the professional skills required in high-quality teaching practices in multigrade teaching should be further studied by researchers and educators.
    Full-text · Chapter · Nov 2015
  • Source
    • "The results of our research indicate that curriculum alignment using the spiral curriculum was not prevalent in the teaching practices described. However, one cannot realistically expect individual teachers to adapt the available teaching material for that purpose, in addition to all their other work (Little, 2001). Thus, it is necessary to investigate the ideas underlying the spiral curriculum and how they can be integrated into the level of core curricula. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article describes the teaching strategies used in multi-grade classes in five small rural primary schools in Austria and Finland on the basis of the content analysis of transcribed teacher interviews. Two main types of strategies were identified: practices that (1) aim to reduce or (2) capitalize on students’ heterogeneity. The results illustrate how differently multi-grade teaching can be realized and how it can effectively support individual student learning. The findings are discussed with regard to teacher education with the intention of increasing the awareness of the professional skills required in high-quality teaching practices in multi-grade teaching.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · International Journal of Educational Research
Show more