The purpose of MA English Project on Tools for Teaching and Learning study was to investigate how teachers of English and History perceive educational materials and how they relate these to their teaching and pupils’ learning. Our conclusion is based on an interpretation of the results from both surveys and interviews, with support from relevant literature within the field of study and frame factor theory.
It is initially important to emphasize that the selection and use of educational materials is part of a complex user-process, which not least become evident in teachers’ reasoning concerning the close connection between method and materials. Teachers’ reasoning also clearly illustrate how the use of educational materials is context-based, how the local conditions and the people within the performing field influence what material is selected and how it is used. Results that also indicate that educational materials in themselves do not have a function and that they do not become useful and meaningful until they are used by teachers and pupils in a context where learning takes place.
Unexpectedly, factors such as time and economy are only mentioned briefly by teachers participating in this study. According to the teachers interviewed much of their selection and use of materials instead involve pupils and their learning, and teachers’ reasoning undoubtedly indicate that socio-cultural factors such as pupils’ background, surrounding and earlier experiences have great influence on what material teachers of both English and History choose and how they use it. Teachers’ focus on pupils’ learning is hereby clearly linked to
their own teaching and teachers, irrespective of subject belonging, seem to be very conscious in regard to what material they use and why, something that also become evident with reference to teachers’ use of textbooks. Teachers’ accentuation of a variation of material being used to inspire and motivate pupils furthermore exemplify that they first and foremost proceed from pupils’ learning.
The similarities between how teachers of English and History reason thereby become obvious and even if our research also demonstrate differences between the two, the most prominent result of our study is the rapprochement between the two. Our findings show how English teachers point to the importance of content as a tool for pupils to convey language while teachers of History indicate the significance of language for pupils to understand and express historical processes. These movements can be said to illustrate the change the two subjects have gone through, a change where History no longer is viewed as an objective subject concerning facts about kings and wars but also processes in History related to today and critical thinking, and English has become more than a grammar oriented subject where pupils should learn about the language, it also makes use of content to communicate meaning. The two subjects’ approach towards each other in relation to form and function is thereby one of the main results of this study, which we find relevant and interesting. The definition of English as a language-based subject and History as a content-based subject is according to our research not as straightforward as it might seem, language and content are instead negotiable and the balance between the two is often set by the teacher when selecting materials. As the national documents give teachers great freedom within this area, there is room for different selections and emphasize and we feel that this is an interesting research area which can be investigated further.
Download MA English Project on Tools for Teaching and Learning Project Report.