Groupwork, social pedagogy and primary mathematics: the SPeCTRM Impact project

Groupwork, social pedagogy and primary mathematics: the SPeCTRM Impact project's image
Created: 2014-11-26 14:24
Institution: Faculty of Education
Editors' group: SMS - SPeCTRM & ChiPE editors for the Faculty of Education
Description: This collection of video extracts is part of the SPeCTRM Impact Project, based on the ESRC-funded Hong Kong-UK SPeCTRM Project (Social Pedagogical Contexts in Teaching and Research in Mathematics), a bilateral project, funded in Hong Kong by the HK Research Grants Council at the University of Hong Kong. The HK-UK SPeCTRM project was directed by Dr Linda Hargreaves at Cambridge University, and Professor Peter Kutnick, at the University of Hong Kong.

Social Pedagogy is defined simply as the social context within which pedagogic relationships take place and which may promote or inhibit learning in classrooms (Blatchford, Kutnick & Baines 2002). The 'SPRinG' project ( ERSC-TLRP ‘Effectiveness of groupwork in classrooms’ and showed that group work was more effective when teachers used the three social pedagogical principles below in planning and teaching. The most important aspects is that social pedagogy is based on the development of positive trusting and respectful relationships between children and teacher, and between every child and every other child in the class.

3 principles of Social Pedagogy

(1) Relationships:
Develop positive trusting relationships are fundamental for effective groupwork such that every child will work with every other child in the class. There are many classroom activities to help with this in Baines et al. (2008) Promoting effective group work in the primary classroom A handbook for teachers. London: Routledge.

(2) Role of the teacher:
Supporting lessons - briefing and debriefing about working in groups;
Supporting interaction – scaffold, model, reinforce, but allow children time to discuss problems themselves
Observe interaction, listen to the discussions, and monitor group work rather than intervening too soon

(3) Developing an effective classroom context:
Physical context: e.g., make seating and furniture layout conducive to interaction (e.g. children sit around small tables)
Curricular context: the group work task should be challenging and have scope for discussion (nature of task);
Interactional context: consider (i) group composition, mixing achievement levels for optimal effect for all; (ii) children's roles in the group; (iii) size of group to ensure that each child participates; (iv) consider time allowances for each stage of the lesson

The Videos

There are eight videos in this collection. They provide examples of certain categories of children’s talk when working on mathematics in small collaborative groups. These categories were originally used to analyse children's talk during group work in the SPRinG project and the HK-UK SPeCTRM project. Research has shown that when children explain their ideas about maths problems to their peers their achievement improves (e.g. Webb, Franke et al., (2009) 'Explain to your partner' ... Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(1), 49-70)

The examples here were recorded in a studio, but for examples recorded in real classrooms, please contact Dr Linda Hargreaves at to see these for training or research.

The Brushloads Investigation (

The examples here show three 10 year old children, two girls (A, B) and a boy (C), seated round a small table and working on an investigation entitled ‘Brushloads’, using multilink cubes. Their teacher introduces the problem and checks on progress from time to time. He briefs and debriefs them about working collaboratively at the beginning and end of the activity.

The ‘Brushloads’ problem is an investigation from the University of Cambridge ‘NRich’ group which provides numerous mathematics problems for schools and individual children of all ages ( ).

The children have a small number of multilink cubes; five cubes to start with, and then six, seven and so on. Each face of a cube is equivalent to one ‘brushload’ of paint. The task is to make various different shapes with the five cubes to form stable free-standing solids, and to find out how many brushloads of paint are needed to paint all the faces of the shapes, excluding the base, that is the cube face/s in contact with the table. Having found the maximum and minimum number of brushloads for shapes made of five, six, seven cubes, and so on, the eventual aim is to find a way to calculate the maximum number of brushloads for any number of cubes.

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Using groupwork in primary mathematics


Linda Hargreaves explains the details of the SPeCTRM Impact project

Collection: Groupwork, social pedagogy and primary mathematics: the SPeCTRM Impact project

Institution: Faculty of Education

Created: Tue 6 Jan 2015

Teacher introduces groupwork skills


The teacher 'briefs', a small group of children in the skills they will need for group work, such as communicating, collaborating , compromising ...

Collection: Groupwork, social pedagogy and primary mathematics: the SPeCTRM Impact project

Institution: Faculty of Education

Created: Thu 26 Mar 2015