Researching the Flexible Grouping

Statement of the problem

Flexible grouping is defined as a “grouping that is not static, where members of the reading group change frequently” (Ford, 2005). The overriding problem in the research is students’ inability to adapt to changes that occur in the flexible grouping rather frequently. Moreover, it is possible to face the problems which deal with poor and inequities in working conditions and in health and economics, deficits in or even lack of evaluation of a program, conflicts in the questions of ethics, values, and morals. The problem occurs in the following education. There are a lot of different actions which may be provided to solve the problem, like survey, interview, a new model creation, determination of experts beliefs, meta-analyze evaluation, experiment conduction, etc. An overriding problem of my research is going to be students’ inability to adapt to changes. The problems which I can face while my research is inadequate in the conditions in education may be identified by means of the survey, interview, and meta-analyze evaluation.

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Statement of the purpose of the study

The purpose of the study is to identify the perceptions of students about using flexible grouping, outlining the main negative and positive aspects that might result from its implementation in a wider context. The importance of this study can be seen through providing an educational environment, not only beneficial in learning outcomes but also favorably perceived by students. Grouping and regrouping is a tiresome task for teachers, who might not consider such a strategy prior to making sure that it will be positively accepted by students (Parker, 2007, p. 32). The study will provide a theoretical framework that will assess the perception of students, in addition to the assumed educational benefits.

Significance of Study within the Field

This study is very important for the whole educational sphere for a number of reasons. Firstly, flexible grouping makes studying more interesting and exciting. Students want to study as they are involved in the process. Secondly, flexible grouping is a rather unusual technique. People are always interested in something new. But, it is important to know not only the positive sides of the method but also the negative ones. Thirdly, the research helps understand whether students are interested in this or not. Having conducted a literature review, I will know the general view of the problem. But, it is important to consider the problem in practice.

Being aware of the negative sides of the technique (if any), teachers will be able to avoid those while using the method of flexible grouping in teaching. Moreover, the research conducted in this dissertation will show teachers’ students’ attitudes to this technique. It will be possible to decide whether to use it or not. Finally, the research will show whether the educational technique is effective as teachers believe or not. The research will show whether students approve this methodology or not as the quality of students’ learning depends on their appreciation of and interest in studying.

Definition of terms

Flexible grouping is a method of teaching which aims at dividing students while lessons on specific groups of interests increase learning outcomes.

Research Questions / Hypotheses

The main research question in this study: What are the perceptions of students on the flexible grouping method in the classroom? Other sub-questions can be derived from this question, such as the following:

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  • What elements of flexible grouping are more/less favorable?
  • Are there differences in the quality of instructions in the Flexible grouping method?

An additional quantitative study can be added to the design, in which the achievements of students will be evaluated in a particular discipline. The hypothesis in that regard will state that flexible grouping will have a positive influence on students’ learning achievement in a discipline of choice.

A local school will be selected as a particular site for the study, in which a class of elementary school students will be selected as participants. A mixed study design will be used in this study, where qualitative data will be collected through students’ interviews. Quantitative data, on the other hand, will be collected through pre-study and post-study test scores, which will be compared between a class of students who were taught using the flexible grouping method and a class who were not.

Theoretical framework

My dissertation is going to be directed at flexible grouping. The main idea of this educational technique is to create groups that are both nonstatic and frequently change. Flexible grouping is a strategy that should be used in multiage groups where students are with different abilities and background knowledge. Dwelling upon the disciplinary orientation of the problem, teaching methods and pedagogy are touched. Some teachers do not want to spend time creating groups every lesson, but this is the main condition for flexible grouping (Parker, 2007, p. 32). There are a number of different ways for grouping students: ability grouping and age grouping. According to another classification, the following types of grouping exist whole-class meetings, teacher-led small groups, student-led small groups, partners, individuals (Hoffman, 2002, p. 48).

The main idea of further research is going to be the identification of the negative and positive features of flexible grouping. The research is going to be based on the interviewing of students about their opinion of flexible grouping methods. The main idea of my future research is going to be the understanding of students’ attitudes to the techniques of flexible learning and the experience they managed to gain.

Site of Study and means of access

The study should be provided in two classrooms where different flexible grouping techniques are going to be used. The research should be conducted in classrooms where children are between 11 and 16 years old. This will help us, group students, according to their age in one group and according to the interests and level of knowledge in another.

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Proposed methodology/data analysis

The research is going to be quantitative as this will help us analyze the information collected and evaluate it in accordance with the desired goals. The main purpose of this research is to consider the relationships between the types of flexible groups (independent variable) and students’ attitudes to those (dependant variable). Two classrooms of 12 students are going to be involved in the research. The first classroom is going to be divided into 3 groups on the basis of their age and relating to students’ level of knowledge (1st group). The second classroom is going to be divided into 3 groups as well, but the main focus of the distinguishing is going to be students’ level of knowledge and their interests (2nd group). The groups are going to be interviewed before being involved in a flexible grouping. The questionnaire is going to pay attention to the level of students’ interest in studying, their progress and the ability to understand the material they are explaining. Students will be given an opportunity to rate their answers from 1 up to 10. Rating the variable as 1, students are predicted to mean that they are absolutely dissatisfied with the method or do not understand what they are told in the lessons. 10 rate is going to mean that everything is on the highest level and students are satisfied with everything completely.

Students will have to attend classes with the use of the flexible grouping method for 2 hours 5 times a week, two weeks. This period of time is going to be enough for students to understand the main idea of the method, to get used to it and to be able to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of flexible grouping they have managed to notice. The data should b gathered and put into tables to make it easier to analyze the data. Students’ answers should be gathered into one table in accordance with the student’s answers. The average for each answer should be stated as well as the similar answers measured. Then, the data should be analyzed on the basis of the collected information. It may be reasonable to build graphs on the basis of the analyzed data which should reflect the comparative analysis of students’ perception of the traditional methods of teaching with those conducted in the 1st and in the 2nd groups. The results obtained from the experiments in the 1st and in the 2nd groups should be compared and contrasted on the basis of the graphs as well.

Anticipated significance of the study/Educational Significance

The research conducted in the paper is going to have a great significance in the teaching practices and this importance has already been considered. Still, there is the anticipated significance of the study which lies in the further use of the method for a “supportive and effective learning environment” (Perez & Perez, 2008, p. 52). Working in groups students are inspired for effective learning as they are motivated not only by the teacher but also by the students he/she works with. Moreover, the main idea of the flexible grouping guarantees that students are going to collaborate with group mates on the basis of common interests and the same level of knowledge. It is important to know that students’ knowledge is expected to increase with the increase of the classes involved into the flexible grouping. Moreover, the daily environment in the class with flexible grouping is going to become more interesting and exciting that is going to motivate students for learning. Using the flexible grouping method teachers will be able to identify gifted students and those who know the subject better than other students (Heacox, 2002).

Beginning of how you will design or pursue your literature review

The review will be conducted using several databases, among which are Sage, Eric, Jstor, and others. Additionally, many of the resources will be searched through Google Scholar, namely those books which are available and accessible le for free. The timeline for the study will constitute a particular educational period, a semester, or a year. The recommended period for the study will be outlined from the literature, indicating any potential limitations of short study periods. The review simply will focus on providing an overview of potential strategies in conducting flexible grouping, attempting to find any indications of previous studies of students’ perception. Additionally, any elements of studies that might modify the proposed research design will be mentioned.

Literature Review Outline

  • The preliminary design of the literature review will be divided as follows:
  • Overview of flexible grouping
  • The differences between flexible grouping and ability grouping
  • The academic impact of flexible grouping
  • Gaps in knowledge
  • Conclusion

Limitations of the research

The main limitation of the research is that the groups are going to be formed from students who do not know each other. The communication in such groups may be on the low level for the first time and students will have to get used to each other. There is not much time for this. Moreover, while creating groups, the researchers do not pay much attention to the interests of students, thus, it comes out that some students do not fit any of the three formed groups for flexible learning. Still, this may be considered not as a limitation as in reality classes are not formed in accordance with students’ interests, so the research may be closely related to the reality. Age and sex differences are not taken into account while the research, but these variables may influence the research outcomes greatly as the interests are the focus of the exploration.

Delimitations

The research devoted to flexible grouping may have a number of limitations. First, there is a hazard that students’ answers will not be sincere. Being aware of the fact that the research is conducted, students may give the answers they think are predicted. Second, the age group of the respondents does not give an opportunity to make conclusions that all people are going to be influenced by the method in the same way. Moreover, the interests may be different. Therefore, it is impossible to check all students’ preferences in such a short period of time.

Identification of possible Databases and/or keywords

“Flexible grouping” is the keyword that is considered to be the central fourth research. It is also possible to consider “interest groups” as another keyword relating to the research. There are many different colleges that provide teachers with information on flexible grouping. School of Education of the University of Pittsburg (2010) offers numerous materials for this teaching method. The Resources for Idaho Teachers (2010) may be considered as a good database for the information devoted to the flexible grouping.

Potential References

Many scientists consider Michael F. Opitz and his book Flexible grouping in reading (1999) a guide for this method of teaching. Brody (2004) identifies the importance of flexible grouping for gifted children. This book dwells upon the methods which should be used and the influence they provide on students with specific abilities. Conklin (2007) paid attention to the strategies which should be used while flexible grouping. Moreover, the book focuses on students’ needs when flexible grouping is required. One of the parts of the book by Strickland & Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (2007) highlights the main idea of flexible grouping on the basis of the strategies aimed at supporting this method of teaching.

Background or simple beginning of literature review

The main idea of the literature review is to consider the main idea of flexible grouping, understand its importance and check the strategies used for its implementation. The literature review is also important to understand the level of knowledge in the field and the tools teachers use. The information considered while the literature review will also help understand the gaps in this field of knowledge and check the limitations of the method which may be helpful while analyzing the information collected while our experiment.

Timeline for the study

The research is going to last for several months. As the problem and purpose of the research have already been identified, it is necessary to consider the literature and sources which should be used. This work is rather complicated and time-consuming. It is important to gather the sources which are related to the topic and correspond to our requirements. Then, this information should be carefully read and analyzed. The sources where the information is the most appropriate should be carefully referenced. Along with the literature review, the experiment should be designed and interview questions formulated. The research is going to last for two weeks. It is important to take some notes while the experiment as they may be helpful for identifying the limitations of the research more clearly and stating the ideas for further research. When the experiment is completed the data should be gathered and properly organized. Only after this, the analysis of the information should be followed along with the representation of the results.

Reference List

Resources for Idaho Teachers. (2010). Web.

Brody, L. (2004). Grouping and acceleration practices in gifted education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Conklin, W. (2007). Applying Differentiation Strategies: Teacher’s Handbook for Grades K-2. Shell Education.

Heacox, D. (2002). Differentiating instruction in the regular classroom: how to reach and teach all learners, grades 3-12. Free Spirit Publishing.

Hoffman, J. (2002). Flexible Grouping Strategies in the Multiage Classroom. Theory Into Practice, 41(1), 47.

Opitz, M.F. (1999). Flexible grouping in reading: practical ways to help all students become stronger readers. Scholastic Inc.

Parker, C. (2007). Applying Differentiation Strategies: Teacher’s Handbook for Secondary. Huntington Beach: Shell Education.

Perez, K. D. & Perez, K. (2008). More Than 100 Brain-Friendly Tools and Strategies for Literacy Instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Strickland, C. A. & Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. (2007). Tools for high-quality differentiated instruction. ASCD.

The University of Pittsburg. (2010). School of Education. Web.

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