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Social Sciences

Grammar at GCSE

1 December 2013 - 31 July 2014

PI/s in Exeter: Annabel Watson

CI/s in Exeter: Professor Debra Myhill

Funding awarded: £ 38,044

Sponsor(s): Pearson

About the research

This study, funded by Pearson, follows on from previous research conducted at Exeter into the effect of explicit, contextualised grammar teaching on students’ writing attainment. We are investigating the impact of a pedagogy which places attention to vocabulary choices and patterns of language within meaningful and playful contexts, where students analyse real texts and write their own. This study is unique in also examining the effect of this pedagogical approach on students’ reading attainment as well as their writing.

We are working with five schools and twelve year 10 classes, providing training and teaching materials for the participant teachers in our intervention group, and comparing the outcomes of their teaching to teachers in a comparison group. In order to build a detailed picture of what happens when students are taught grammar in this way, we are not just looking at the statistical results of writing and reading tests before and after the intervention, but are also observing lessons and interviewing teachers and students. In this way, we hope to be able to better understand how the teaching of grammar might influence students’ metalinguistic understanding, ability to analyse texts and ability to make conscious design choices in their writing. 

As well as communicating our findings to the research community, we intend to work with our participant teachers and our funding body, Pearson, to disseminate the results to the professional community through co-authored publications, conferences and continuing professional development work with schools.