A controversial week on Teacher Tapp! Lots of thorny opinion questions getting everyone thinking. We’ve plenty more where that came from!
But before we get ahead of ourselves, here’s what we learned this week…
Just under a month ago we changed the app so users can answer extra questions each day. Doing this changed the layout of the app and made the ‘daily tip’ button less obvious. A user asked this week if the change influenced the number of people reading the tips. Here’s the stats:
In the weeks before the app change:
- 55% of users looked at the daily tip, &
- 24% of users clicked on the tip
After the app change:
- 44% of users looked at the daily tip (down 11%), &
- 20% of users clicked on them (down just 4%)
Giving people the option between ‘more questions’ & reading the tips has reduced clicks a little, but only by 4% and we still get around 500 hits for a blog on any given day. (Some get many more).
How are the extra questions going?
On any given day around 400 users now answer an 6 extra questions on average.
In the last month alone the extra question option gave an additional 35,000 extra answers.
Does this mean we need to tweak the app? Possibly.
We could play around with the format, so the ‘daily tip’ is the only button on the first page, and the extra questions button is after the tip. But, tip click-throughs have only diminished by 4% so far, which might be worth it for the extra question push. Thoughts? Please use the feedback button in your app (in the top left menu) to let us know, or tweet us @TeacherTapp.
We walked into a mire this week after asking the following question:
As with many aspects of education, this one divides people sharply. Those who disagree tend to strongly disagree, and Schools Minister Nick Gibb felt the number of people who agreed with the statement was concerning.
This is concerning! https://t.co/UnUdm4PzLO
— Nick Gibb (@NickGibbUK) April 27, 2018
— Kristopher Boulton (@Kris_Boulton) April 27, 2018
But many teachers on social media pointed out there’s a difference between believing students may have different learning preferences versus believing they can only learn in a certain style. (Or even learn best in it).
As Harry Fletcher-Wood explained:
The evidence is crystal clear: learners have preferences. No one has produced any evidence that teaching students in accordance with these preferences has any positive impact on their learning (for motivational reasons or otherwise. https://t.co/pGaztsdmud pic.twitter.com/whErqpsycn
— Harry Fletcher-Wood (@HFletcherWood) April 29, 2018
We don’t know from this one question if people meant preferences, or a matched style, or anything else. However, we have some other data that can help us triangulate.
Back in February we asked tappsters if they differentiated their teaching activities based on ‘VAK’ – that is, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic, which are the most common ‘styles’.
Only 18% of people said they did differentiate for such styles, and 15% said they’d never even heard of VAK differentiation.
Hence, while more than 60% of people believe children have learning styles (or, perhaps, preferences), we don’t have evidence this is translating to masses of teachers changing their activities to accommodate those styles.
We do see a small difference between primary and secondary colleagues on both measures:
(In the graphic below, dark red is ‘always’, pink is ‘sometimes’, yellow is ‘don’t know what VAK is’, and green is ‘no’).
But clearly this is not the last word in learning styles. Nor is it a cause for alarm. It is simply the start of a broader set of evidence.
But isn’t all this dangerously divisive?
A fair challenge came from one of our users this weekend:
Wondering whether the questions on @TeacherTapp are helpful in that they stimulate discussion or unhelpful in creating unnecessary division? Or is it a bit of both?
— Daniel Sabato (@Sabato0612) April 29, 2018
In particular, some people were unhappy that individual questions are ambiguously worded. But the more we load sub-clauses and hedges and explanations into a question, the harder they are for people to answer accurately. Hence, we ask a range of questions in different ways. E.g. the VAK question and learning styles and we’ll ask more in future. In doing so we can start to pick out subtle differences in who answers which question. Will that be a bit scary and uncomfortable? Maybe. But it’s not like these opinions don’t already exist and impact the way teachers plan lessons or discuss their work. All we want to do is make the implicit more explicit. Could that be dangerous or incorrect? Possibly. But then, a quest for truth often is. We should still try and do it anyway.
Mental health is a hot topic with Theresa May lumping loads of cash into schools to help reduce issues. But the National Education Union has said the government must accept it is ‘responsible’ for a purported rise in mental illness among young.
Teachers agree. 63% of teachers strongly or somewhat agreed that school assessment in particular is increasing mental health problems among young people.
Primary teachers were most concerned – with 67% in strong or somewhat agreement. Secondary teachers were close behind with 60%.
The view from the government so far is that teachersmore are responsible for ensuring stress is not transferred to children. Or, as Nick Gibb hinted, if children did exams then perhaps they may be less stressed. You can make your own mind up on the likelihood of that one!
We have written before about the problem of polls looking at teaching assistants. But we thought we’d check in again, now our sample is bigger, and see if we found the same pattern.
If you ask teachers about how often they have a teaching assistant, it will look like half do, and half don’t.
But this masks a huge variation between primary and secondary teachers. The majority of primary teachers have a TA for at least one hour each day, whereas a majority of secondary teachers do not. This replicates our finding from earlier in the year.
This matters because the more contact you have with a teaching assistant, the more likely you are to think they are useful.
Hence, if you ask teachers would they rather have a TA or a payrise, most secondary teachers want cash and primary ones want assistants.
And those who already have a TA for more than an hour are the ones who most want a full-time assistant.