The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 has the potential to become a powerful influence in helping Scotland’s educational establishments to become more inclusive communities. However, legislation alone will never be enough. Whether or not Scotland becomes a more inclusive society will depend significantly on the values that its practitioners hold and their ability to translate these values into their learning environment (LTS, 2006). Educational inclusion advocates a need for strategies that provide support for pupils in accessing the standard curriculum within mainstream schools. The basis of this principle is on the premise that schools should cater for all children regardless of; their disability, social, emotional, cultural or linguistic differences (Florian, 2008). Therefore, inclusive education is based on a tailored learning experience that is both developmentally appropriate and engaging for the specific pupil, as well as reducing factors that can negatively impact learning. This is supported by Learning and Teaching Scotland (2006), explaining that inclusion is about allowing learners to take action to remove barriers to participation and learning, eliminating discrimination and promoting equality. Nonetheless, within education, inclusion and social justice are challenged by ‘barriers to learning’ (Connors and Stalker, 2007). The role of the professional educator should be to extinguish these inhibitors to learning and create an inclusive environment for all learners.
A method to combat against exclusion of learners is the incorporation of varying learning techniques. Florian and Kreshner (2009), identify that teachers are expected to make pedagogical choices enabling participation of all children. This concept is expressed throughout the literature, identifying attributes such as; positive outlook, refined communication skills, rapport and collaborative techniques as essential attributes in the facilitation of learning. The think-pair-share strategy is a cooperative learning technique that encourages individual participation and is applicable across all grade levels and class sizes. Students think through questions using three distinct steps:
- Think: Students think independently about the question that has been posed, forming ideas of their own.
- Pair: Students are grouped in pairs to discuss their thoughts. This step allows students to articulate their ideas and to consider those of others.
- Share: Student pairs share their ideas with a larger group, such as the whole class. Often, students are more comfortable presenting ideas to a group with the support of a partner. In addition, students’ ideas have become more refined through this three-step process.
Students seek opportunities to talk in a linguistically rich environment. Researchers have found that students’ learning is enhanced when they have many opportunities to elaborate on ideas through talk (Pressley 1992). The lead researcher implements the think-pair-share strategy to increase communication necessary for students to internally process, organise, and retain ideas (Pimm 1987). In sharing their ideas, students take ownership of their learning and negotiate meanings rather than rely solely on the teacher’s authority (Cobb et al. 1991).
The aims of this enquiry were;
- To examine what happens when think-pair-share is introduced to the learning environment.
- The researcher sought to observe how social factors may or may not impact the collaborative learning technique.
Also, whether or not the correct terminology was going to be expressed by the individual teams associated with this Practitioner Enquiry.