We are English teachers at Söderslättsgymnasiet and have been working intensively for four years on a unique project that involves collective learning to support successful school development based on scientific research. We constantly strive to develop our profession and practical theory (Handal & Lauvås, 2000). During all our workplace planning time we plan, mark and develop the teaching together. All our collaboration is done with focus on education and students’ learning and results (Jarl, Blossing & Andersson, 2017). The concept “collective learning” is quite a new phenomenon within school research. It is defined as a cumulative process that results in the production of knowledge. This is compared with collegial education, which focuses on individual learning (Skolverket, 2018). In order for the collective study to be effective, professional learning communities need to promote student education and existing teaching methods need to change to benefit the students’ knowledge development (Timperley, 2013).
Our study seeks to answer the question:
“How does collective learning become a real support for successful school development and thereby lead to an improvement of student-growth measures?
We pursue action research where we examine our own practice with research methods, such as didactic analysis through the tool ”double log” (Sträng, 2005) and Kemmis and McTaggart’s action research model (Rönnerman, Edwards-Groves & Grootenboer, 2018) for the purpose of changing and developing learning. We start each new learning topic by planning, acting, observing and reflecting (ibid.) as well as asking didactic questions.
After completing the topic, we verbalize and reflect on whether discrepancies between the intended and the actual outcomes have arisen (Sträng, 2005). In order to ensure that the pupils have learnt what was intended, we carry out written evaluations in full class and discussions in focus groups of eight students (Hägg & Kouppa, 2007). Based on the pupils’ results, we create a common understanding and draw collective conclusions (Simons & Ruijters, 2001). One example of a value-added measure we have implemented on an organization level is running four groups in parallel in years 10, 11 and 12 to enable optimization of the students’ learning and increase their performance. Through recurring topics in the form of workshops the pupils can choose different contents (linguistic/literary) based on their own needs and interests regardless of which class they originally belong to. Every workshop lasts about three weeks and ends with an assessment.
The result of our collective learning is among others supported by Vygotskij’s socio-cultural orientation (Claesson, 2007). Our method has positive effects on both motivation and knowledge development and since the classroom environment is safe and supportive the pupils have been able to develop and learn from each other successfully. Evaluations as well as observations show that the high-performing students are motivated by getting targeted teaching on challenging tasks instead of working with these on their own. The students who need more practice in basic knowledge become more active and confident enough to take on leading roles in the classroom. Furthermore, the annual report cards show student-growth measures and by extension, overall course grades have improved. In addition, the needs and challenges of individual pupils are taken into account in our moderation process in which we adjust our assessments in an equitable way through teacher discussions. We believe that our collective learning contributes to a sustainable change of teaching and continuous improvement of student attainment.
1] “Student-growth measures compare the relative change in a student’s performance on a specific test with the performance of all other students on that same test.” (https://www.edglossary.org/value-added-measures/)
Claesson, S. (2007). Spår av teorier i praktiken: Några skolexempel. Studentlitteratur: Lund
Handal, G. & Lauvås, P. (2000). På egna villkor – en strategi för handledning. Studentlitteratur: Lund
Jarl, M., Blossing, U. & Andersson, K. (2017). Att organisera för skolframgång – Strategier för en likvärdig skola. Natur & Kultur: Stockholm
Melander, Å. (2017). Så mäts hur bra eller dålig en skola är.
Rönnerman, K., Edwards-Grooves, C. & Grootenboer, P. (2018). Att leda från mitten – lärare som driver professionell utveckling. Lärarförlaget: Stockholm
Simons, P. R. J., & Ruijters, M. C. P. (2001). Work-related learning: elaborate, expand and externalize.
Skolverket (2018). Kollegialt lärande – individutveckling eller skolutveckling? https://www.skolverket.se/skolutveckling/forskning-och-utvarderingar/forskning/kollegialt-larande—individutveckling-eller-skolutveckling
Sträng, H, M. (Red.) (2005). Samspel för lärande, didaktiskt redskap för professionella lärare. Lund: Studentlitteratur
The Glossary of Education Reform (2019-02-18): https://www.edglossary.org/value-added-measures/
Timperley, H. (2013). Det professionella lärandets inneboende kraft. Lund:
Vill du veta mer så hör av dig till: