Marking time or moving on: Student perceptions of school life in year 8 and their attributions for their success and failure in learning
Chedzoy, Susan M.
University of Exeter
Research in Education
Manchester University Press
This paper reports on the changing perceptions of the educational experiences of students as they move through the school system in one secondary school in South West England. As part of a longitudinal study students were asked to express their thoughts and feelings about life in Year 8, which is considered by some as a year in which little progress is made and there is a ‘falling off’ of attitudes to learning. Students were asked to give their opinions about their learning experiences in Year 8, and whether they still enjoyed the subjects they had been looking forward to prior to transfer to the secondary school. They were also asked for the reasons they attributed to doing well or not doing well at school. Their views about the usefulness of homework were sought, and they offered ideas of how they thought its’ usefulness could be improved. The results revealed that the majority of students in this large secondary school did not feel that they were ’marking time’ and that they were working harder and learning more than they did in Year 7. In this respect these findings did not support those of previous studies concerning students’ commitment and motivation to their learning in Year 8. The research revealed gender differences with regard to their perceived reasons for doing more or less well at school and to what they attributed success or failure in their learning.