Understanding the social classroom: the foundation of effective pedagogy in cultural context?

26th January 2021 : 17:00 - 18:15

Category: Seminar

Speaker: Matthew Jukes, RTI International

Location: ONLINE - Teams

Convener: Katrina May Dulay

Audience: Public



Literacy instruction programs have arguably had limited success in low- and middle-income countries because they focus on the technical – but not the social – aspects of literacy instruction. Reform efforts in sub-Saharan Africa have regularly failed to shift pedagogy away from teacher-led whole-class direct instruction to activities that are more effective for learning. In part, the failure is due to a lack of recognition of the social nature of classrooms where teacher-child interactions are conditioned by cultural predispositions. New research from Tanzania identified such challenges to pedagogical reform and points to potential solutions. One approach focuses on the child – to develop their social and emotional competencies. Teachers in Mtwara, Tanzania – but not parents – think that confidence and curiosity are important for student learning and report that interactive teaching activities are less effective in rural areas where students lack these competencies. Evidence suggests that building students’ confidence to participate in class is achievable relatively quickly. A second approach is to adapt teaching activities. Teachers in Tanzania report reluctance to implement teaching activities that undermine the social goals of instruction, such as avoiding embarrassment and promoting a sense of fairness and togetherness in the classroom. Instruction would be more effective if activities are co-designed with teachers to achieve both the social goals and the cognitive/learning goals of teaching.

About the speaker

Photo of Mathew JukesMatthew Jukes is a Fellow and Senior Education Evaluation Specialist at RTI International with 20 years of experience as a researcher in international education and child development. He is Principal Investigator of the Playful Learning Measurement Initiative (2020-22) and the Research Director of the Play Accelerator research program (2019–2024), both funded by the LEGO foundation. Dr. Jukes is also the Research Director of the Learning @ Scale research program (2019–2022), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Center for Global Development, which investigates 14 highly effective learning improvement interventions in low- and middle-income countries. Dr. Jukes conducts research on the cultural context of social emotional learning and effective pedagogy, and evidence-based decision-making in education. Previous roles include Associate Professor of International Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Room to Read and Senior Director of Global Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation Strategy. Dr. Jukes holds a doctorate in early childhood development and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Oxford University.