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Research Fossil 1

Research Fossil 1

No, not me... I just came across a table in my papers that I have always enjoyed looking at, and thought I'd share it.

Each column in this table shows the order, from 1st to 43rd, in which the topics were rated by parents (Par), teachers (Tch), and pupils.  The adults indicated that the topic in question 'should be included' in the curriculum, while the pupils' results are based on those responding that they would be 'very interested' in it.  Some topic titles have had to be compressed from the exact wording in the questionnaire: these are shown in square brackets []

Rank positions among the Just a Tick topics list ordered by responses from national primary survey 1985

The statistical sins here are several:

  • we have ignored the data for all the other responses (although these are less commonly used by respondents)
  • we have ranked the data which ignores any possible ‘bunching’ of results (although we in fact see that the differences between ranks is fairly smooth from first [usually about 90% for the top topic] to last [about 10%])
  • we have put responses from pupils and adults together on Table 3, even though they answered different questionnaires with different options

Even these greatly simplified data are enormously rich, and I never tire of looking at them and listening to students comment on them.  Some obvious highlights:

  • The topics most often rated as important by all adult groups are the safety issues, topic numbers 19-21.  These are also fairly highly rated in terms of interest by pupils, together with First Aid [22].
  • Other topics that most adults think are very important include moral personal issues like 35. Being honest and 36. Being responsible; 41. Stealing and 32. Bullying also feature among the top ten for adult groups. The biological topics 1. How my body works and 11. Food and nutrition are rated highly.
  • The most highly-rated topics for all groups of pupils is 39. Caring for pets.  This may be seen as an opportunity, for surely the successful care of pets involves many of the same health and social issues that are found elsewhere on the list, from 11. Food and nutrition to 32. Bullying
  • Other topics very interesting to pupils include 6. Care of hair, teeth & skin, 15. Physical fitness, 37. Spare time activities, 17. Understanding the needs of handicapped people, and particularly for the older pupils 24. Being separated from parents.
  • There is a consensus right across the board about the value of 6. Care of hair, teeth and skin.
  • The biggest mismatches between the ranks of adults and pupils are for the topics 24. Being separated from parents, and 25. Death and bereavement, each of which are rated much higher in the rankings by pupils.  This may reflect
    • adults’ reluctance to deal with the issues themselves, or
    • adults’ reluctance to trouble children with these issues, or
    • a lack of understanding of how these issues might constructively be dealt with in the classroom (a common comment at meetings).
  • Two principal ideas that run through many discussions of health education are decision-making and self-esteem.  If we look for the ranking of related topics we may discover that decision-making (34. Making up our minds) and self-esteem (33. Feeling good about yourself) attract no particular support from any group!
  • Topic 43.Conservation attracts much interest from pupils; we did wonder if this interest was triggered in part by the prompt offered, as there is a discontinuity between the high votes here and the results from secondary pupils (elsewhere).
  •     These comments are offered really as a starter for your own reflections - what if these were the results for your school?  Would you expect your school’s results to be different, and how? Is there more or less consensus between the adults than you expected?  Or between boys and girls?  Which topics should be included in the curriculum?  How should they be taught?  And who will  decide?

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