Fostering linguistic (meta)concept use in secondary education. Evaluating design principles

Submitted by: Jimmy H.M. van Rijt
Abstract: L1 grammar teaching as part of language education is very common around the world, but is has also been heavily debated. From a pedagogical point of view, there are many reasons to criticize traditional grammar teaching, but in this contribution, criticism from a linguistic perspective is the starting point. According to some scholars, grammar teaching should make more use of (meta)concepts from modern linguistics in order to enrich traditional grammar and thus be more linguistically up-to-date (Van Rijt, De Swart & Coppen, 2018). Even though there are good theoretical grounds to assume positive effects of such a (meta)conceptual approach, empirical evidence to support the approach is currently scarce. Following a previous study in which university students showed enhanced linguistic reasoning abilities after having undergone an intervention that related linguistic metaconcepts to concepts from traditional grammar (Van Rijt, De Swart, Wijnands & Coppen, submitted), the current study focuses on secondary education. Its main aim was to identify relevant design principles that could help secondary school teachers achieve better conceptual understanding of grammar for their students. The study consisted in a short intervention that involved 118 14-year olds and five secondary school teachers from different schools in the Netherlands. The intervention was informed by theoretical design principles and by the pedagogical advises of teachers operating in a Professional Learning Community. Prior to and after the intervention, students were asked to reason about a set of grammatical problems. The resulting analyses were rated using comparative judgement (see Pollitt, 2012). The teachers were asked to complete fidelity measures and they were interviewed in a focus group interview, in which each of the design principles was evaluated with regard to the main goal of achieving conceptual understanding. In our presentation, we will discuss the intervention, the results and conclusions of the project and future research projects.

Keywords: grammar, metaconcepts, linguistic reasoning

Pollitt, A. (2012). Comparative Judgement for assessment. International Journal of Technology and Design Education 22(2), 157-170.
Van Rijt, J., De Swart, P. & Coppen, P.-A. (2018). Linguistic concepts in L1 grammar education: a systematic literature review. Research Papers in Education.
Van Rijt, J., De Swart, P., Wijnands, A. & P.-A. Coppen (submitted). When students tackle grammatical problems. Exploring linguistic reasoning with linguistic metaconcepts in grammar education.