Attainment grouping as self-fulfilling prophesy? A mixed methods exploration of self confidence and set level among Year 7 students

Becky Francis, Paul Connolly, Louise Archer, Jeremy Hodgen, Anna Mazenod, David Pepper, Seaneen Sloan, Becky Taylor, Antonio Tereshchenko, Mary -Claire Travers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)
347 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Within-school segregation of pupils by attainment remains prevalent, despite evidence that these practices detrimentally impact outcomes for those in low attainment groups. This article explores the hypothesis that ‘ability grouping’ by setting impacts pupil self-confidence, precipitating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Survey data from 11,546 11/12 year old pupils in ‘ability sets’, and individual interviews and focus groups with 66 pupils, are drawn upon to explore this hypothesis. We find a significant correlation between perceived set placement and self-confidence in the set subject. More importantly, we also find a correlation between set placement and general self-confidence in learning. Pupils’ qualitative responses illustrate how setting can promote self-fulfilling prophecy, and worrying evidence of internalisation of ‘ability’ labels among pupils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-108
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research
Volume86
Early online date14 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 14 Oct 2017

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