Using the Student Voice to Promote Teachers’ Pedagogical Innovation in Small Classes

  • Gary James Harfitt


This chapter reports on a follow-up study to the case studies reported in Chaps.  2,  3, and  4. As a result of the positive student feedback in the six case studies presented earlier, I decided to extend my research and investigate whether the student voice on teaching and learning in small classes might act as a trigger for teachers’ reflection and classroom practice. I wanted to see if it was possible to broker dialogue between teachers and students to co-construct appropriate pedagogy in small classes. I start the chapter by showing how the study builds on previous research that has succeeded in using the student voice as a prompt for teacher reflection on curriculum innovation. I then describe how I elicited the student voice on teaching and learning in their respective classes (all schools, students and teachers were different from those in my earlier case studies) and collated their suggestions for improving teaching and learning in their respective contexts. Students’ feedback on how to improve teaching and learning processes included some intriguing suggestions including their perceived need for more time to work on tasks in class, their belief that teachers needed to reduce the amount of teacher talk, their preference for more varied group work in class and better use of classroom space. Students also sought a wider variety of language tasks and more chances to engage in peer assessment practices. After triangulating interview data with classroom observations, teachers were provided with student interview transcripts and I elicited their reaction to the students’ feedback in interviews. Further observations were arranged to determine whether teachers could incorporate suggested changes into their teaching and I conclude this chapter by demonstrating how the student voice acted as a catalyst for teachers’ professional development.


Class Size Classroom Observation Small Class Pedagogical Change Language Lesson 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to acknowledge the Research Grants Council (RGC) in Hong Kong for kindly funding this particular research study as part of the Early Career Scheme (ECS) grant (758913) 2013–2014.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary James Harfitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong SAR

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