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Observing pupils' mental strategies: signposts for scaffolding

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Leat


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Assessment of pupil attainment in National Curriculum Geography in England and Wales is frequently in the form of summative tests and exercises. This paper explores the potential of 'mysteries' for diagnostic and formative purposes. Slips of paper containing the information needed to resolve the mystery are manipulated by groups of pupils. Observation of the arrangements and analysis of the relationships within them reflect the pupils' cognitive processes as understanding of the mystery grows. Stages in this process which represent increasingly complex thinking are identified and their relationship to the SOLO taxonomy is discussed. The paper concludes with consideration of the potential of mysteries for supporting pupils' learning and for teachers to scaffold their cognitive development.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Leat D, Nichols A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education

Year: 2000

Volume: 9

Issue: 1

Pages: 19-33

ISSN (print): 1038-2046

ISSN (electronic): 1747-7611

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/10382040008667627


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