Assessing engagement with construction-based, structured-play activities designed for the teaching and learning of the language of metacognition in a primary Pupil Referral Unit

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Linale, Jamie
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Educational Level
ISCED Level 1 Primary education
Geographical Setting
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Background and purpose: I conducted a case study at a primary pupil-referral-unit (PRU), exploring the use of construction-based, structured-play activities for the teaching and learning of the language of metacognition (LoM). Metacognition is important for developing independent learners and, in the context of a PRU, for both assisting students in obtaining academic outcomes similar to their mainstream counterparts and facilitating reintegration into mainstream settings.

Aims: Engagement is a necessary pre-requisite for teaching and learning to occur, and in this report, I explore primary-PRU students’ engagement with the activities to determine if the activities are sufficiently engaging such that they can unfold in a manner consistent with their design.

Study design or methodology: Three students at a primary PRU in the South-East of England participated in eight sessions of two construction-based, structured-play activities; both activities included ‘metacognition resources’ of my own design, which were intended to introduce students to the LoM. To explore engagement with these activities, context-specific indicators were obtained from observation of video and audio data, and a ‘Leuven-inspired’ scale of engagement, ranging from 1 (very low) to 5 (very high) was constructed and used to monitor engagement throughout the sessions.

Findings: Considering the context and the archetypal PRU student, the activities were generally engaging. I found students to be sufficiently engaged such that the activities could unfold in a manner consistent with their design. The build process was, however, generally more engaging than the ‘metacognition elements’ of the activities.

Implications for practice: The findings suggest that construction-based, structured play and the metacognition resources offer a viable means to engage students with metacognition. Such activities may provide a way to help students in PRUs develop independency in learning, facilitate their reintegration into mainstream settings, and improve their academic outcomes.
Keywords (free text)
pupil referral unit , alternative provision , metacognition , self-regulated learning , engagement
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