Mix and Match
They say diversity is the spice of life—and apparently it’s also the key to greater achievement in the classroom, according to recent studies. Research conducted by professors at the University of Sussex, in London, found that children placed in mixed--ability math classes outperformed those grouped by ability.
One four-year study followed 700 U.S. teenagers in three high schools, and examined the results of different math-teaching methods. The approach that gave students a “shared responsibility for each other’s learning” saw significant improvement among both high- and low–achieving students. The mixed grouping also saw improved social skills, such as good behavior and respect among the group members.
Another Sussex study found that social class was more important than perceived ability and prior attainment, in determining a student’s ability grouping, and that working-class students are more likely to be placed in low-ability groups, than middle-class students with the same test results. This finding emphasized the necessity of mixed-learning environments, researchers said.