Empowering underachieving adolescents: an emancipatory learning perspective on underachievement

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Pedagogies, 2013, 8 (3), pp. 235 - 254
Issue Date:
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The article reports on an empirical study into underachievement of 14-year-old students in four English schools by drawing upon learning power theory and practice. The study examined the characteristic learning power profiles of underachieving and overachieving adolescents, and then used student learning profiles diagnostically to support the learning needs of a selected sample of underachievers. This was followed by an impact study of the interventions on the development of student learning power and their academic achievement. The pre-intervention quantitative findings demonstrated a significant difference between the learning power dimensions of underachieving students and the rest of their cohort. Qualitative and narrative analysis provided greater depths in interpretation. Coaching conversations as a major intervention strategy were found to be successful in strengthening underachieving teenagers' learning power and enhancing their learning experiences rather than just raising their exam performance. The study concludes that in addressing the learning needs of underachieving adolescents, serious attention should be given to their learning subjectivities, enabling them to relate school learning to their personal values, attitudes, aspirations and identities. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
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