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Socioeconomic status (SES) affects society as a whole (American Psychological

Association, APA (2017), it can be beneficial or detrimental to one’s existence. APA

(2017) explains that low SES correlates with lower education, poverty and poor health,

this is due to access barriers. Access or lack thereof is a serious issue, funding tends to

be most significant barrier to access in education. Geographic location, student

performance and even student enrolments can influence school funding (Harrington

2011). Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that

education is a basic human right, it should be free and accessible to every human being

on this earth and it shall be directed in such a way that strengthens and promotes

tolerance, friendship and respect for all nations, religions and races with the ideals of

maintaining peace (United Nations, 1948). It is important to break down access barriers

to make sure this ideal is achievable. Access can impact the resources within a school,

technology is an advantageous resource in the right settings. Access to technology is

not equal or equitable, low SES populations suffer from these inequities and

inequalities. Callow and Orlando (2015) found that technology can have a profound

impact on student engagement in conjunction with teacher pedagogical practices that

aim to increase student engagement. For this reason, it is essential to consider ways in

which schools can improve student engagement through the use of technology. This

paper will look at a learning activity from the Personal Development, Health and

Physical Education (PDHPE) curriculum. Recommendations will be made to determine

the relevance and effectiveness of the lesson and any alterations will be suggested

based on this.

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The research used to form the basis of this article suggests that low SES students are

less likely to be engaged in their schooling due to significant challenges posed to these

students. Callow and Orlando (2015) focus on the fair go pedagogy which refers to a

call for justice and equity for all, regardless of social and cultural background. This

pedagogy looks at different methods for engaging students in the classroom, these

being technology and literacy practices.

The article follows a quantitative approach, it follows 28 exemplary teachers that have

been put into low SES schools to monitor engagement. These teachers are considered

exemplary and are nominated by their principals and schools, they are then subjected

to a rigorous interview process which determines which teachers get to take part in

the study. The study is relational because it is looking at exemplary teachers and the

difference they can make with student engagement through technology and literacy

practices. Teachers would then undertake lessons focussing on high cognitive, high

affective and high operative learning experiences, these learning experiences came

under the bracket of small or little ‘e’ engagement. Long term or big ‘E’ engagement

was focused on a more enduring relationship with education and school. The high

cognitive, high affective and high operative learning experiences relate back to

pedagogy that emphasizes involvement in learning experiences. Callow and Orlando

(2015) found that SES had a serious impact on students’ schooling, many of those from

low SES and living in poverty were more likely to resist school as they associate it in a

negative way rather than looking at school in a positive manner and as an outlet from

their everyday lives. Rothman (2003) suggests that SES does not play the significant

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role in access to education that it once did. However, it is important to realise that

students from low SES do suffer from negativities towards education. Cobbold,

Polidano, Hanel, & Buddelmeyer (2013) admits that there is an SES gap that is

contributing to things such as drop outs and underachievement in those lower SES

students. Rothman also states that it is important for schools and community programs

to increase literacy and numeracy levels amongst low SES and Indigenous students

and that it should be made sure that that these students are given all the resources

necessary to achieve successful outcomes. Callow and Orlando (2015) also found that

technology cannot just be implemented into a low SES school increase student

engagement in classes. Rather they suggest that teacher pedagogy has a huge impact

on student engagement when considering technology and literacy practices. The

conclusion states that low SES locations can be challenged by social and academic

factors. It also states that a focus should be shifted from ‘ideal’ practices to practices

that are working deployed by teachers. These practices seem to be making a difference

in low SES and should henceforth be considered because it is seen to have addressed

issues of equity which is supporting students and allowing them to be more confident

and engaged learners. The main recommendation from this article is that students

need to be more actively engaged through teachers’ pedagogies which comes down

to experience, training, professional development and developing an understanding

of the students that one is working with.

PDHPE is best known for being a practical subject, where students can ‘learn sports’

and ‘run around’. It gives them a break from academic subjects such as mathematics

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and English which require a lot of sitting. PDHPE is made up of different components

within the syllabus, it is a compulsory subject from years 7-10 which involves both

practical and theoretical lessons, stage 6 PDHPE or years 11-12 is offered as an elective

and is 90% theory based. It should be considered that different mediums can have an

impact on student learning. Change within the classroom can be positive because

students generally respond better if they doing something different or a change.

The lesson is about becoming a self-directed learner within PDHPE. The lesson is about

evaluating factors that shape identities of others. The materials for this lesson include

a computer, projector or interactive whiteboard, individual student computers with a

copy of self-directed learner- skills self-test excel spreadsheet loaded and the self-

directed learner quiz. This lesson relies heavily on interactions between the student

and their partner as a form of reflection. The lesson is designed to help facilitate

learning so that students have a higher understanding of what they are learning about

and how it applies in their lives or whatever else it may be. The main focus of the lesson

is to look at strengths and weaknesses of oneself and of others in an attempt to

evaluate what factors that shape identities of others and how individuals can shape

others’ identities.

Ideally, this lesson would be more PDHPE based, it covers part of the syllabus in a very

broad sense, this needs to be more specific to the curriculum and the syllabus. One

alteration could include presenting the students with a range of topics relating to

identity and getting the students to choose what they would like to learn about that

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lesson. This allows students to feel important as they provided input into the lesson, it

also demonstrates to the teacher what the students are interested and what they

would most want to learn about within that lesson. This is a great way to get students

engaged in the class, giving them the ability to then make suggestions about what

they research and how could also engage them as they are given more importance in

the lesson.

For example, if students are asked to brainstorm what they believe identity means to

them and then asked to contribute in a group discussion the teacher can gain an

understanding of what the students might be interested in learning about, or maybe

what they might need to learn about. Students can then work individually on the

computers or in pairs to determine how individuals can have an impact on other

people’s identities. A class discussion will then ensue about the impacts of identity,

what makes identity and how one’s peers can impact their identity. Students will be

encouraged that there are no ‘stupid’ answers and everybody should be engaged in

the discussion. Some students feeling confident enough can then speak to the class

about their issues with identity and how they came to be the person they are now. This

gives the other students a sense of what that person is like and how their surroundings

have shaped their identity. It could then be recommended that students be set a

homework in which they need to create a power point presentation about identity and

what it means to them and how they relate that back to themselves. The presentation

will pose as a mini-assessment for the teacher to determine what they have learnt and

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what capacity. The presentation should be no more than 8 slides and should convey

information to show that the student was engaging in the lesson.

It is hard to assume that all students would have access to an individual computer,

especially coming from a low SES background they may not be able to afford such

items. One way to tackle this would be to use the interactive whiteboard and conduct

a class lesson where students form groups and take it in turns to present to the class

through the use of the whiteboard. This still promotes self-directed learning because

the lesson is determined by the student’s willingness to become involved. The teacher

can also ask them what they would like to learn within the set lesson to get them more

engaged, this adaptation relates back to Callow and Orlando’s (2015) findings of

pedagogical change needing to occur to engage students. The use of the interactive

whiteboard allows students to investigate different ways of research with help from

the teacher, it demonstrates that the teacher is willing to help them as long as they

participate and present throughout the lesson. This alteration would give students a

sense of importance as they get to teach the class about the theme or topic they have

chosen within that lesson, students are sometimes more likely to listen to their peers,

therefore it is good to have students interact with their peers on this level. Callow and

Orlando (2015) state that technology is engaging when teacher pedagogical change

is involved. Constantly changing teaching styles and lessons can have a more profound

effect on students than the same dull lessons they are used to every day. It is also

suggested that the inclusion of technology can help to improve literary understanding

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in low SES students, this will more likely make them want to engage in their lessons as

they may have a better understanding (Callow and Orlando, 2015).

It is important to understand the needs of students from low SES backgrounds, they

can suffer serious barriers to access throughout their lives including their schooling

(Mitchell Institute 2015). They need teachers and resources that are not only engaging

but understanding, these students need to be put first, the teacher needs to show

them that they are the most important person in the classroom. All students need a

teacher that shows to their students that they care about them, this instils confidence

in the children and makes them more likely to develop positive relationships with their

teachers, which in turn makes them more likely to participate in class.

Pedagogy is a great way to tackle issues of engagement with low SES students.

According to Callow and Orlando (2015) student engagement with technology is

heightened when the teacher shows excellent pedagogical practices. Understanding

the needs of the students and the barriers to their success is how pedagogical practice

should be assessed, changed and maintained depending on circumstances. Increasing

technology use in PDHPE classes is beneficial for student engagement as they are

experiencing the lesson in a new light, it is not the same dull lesson as every other

week. Allowing them to facilitate their own learning and letting them take some control

over what they would like to learn can make students feel important and appreciated.

Teachers should realise this potential when considering low SES schools and the

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students within them. Even though low SES students have less access to resources it

does not mean that they deserve to fall behind.

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References

Australian Curriculum Lessons. (2016). Becoming a Self-Directed Learner (Digital

Technologies and HEALTH/PE Lesson) – Years 7-10. Retrieved from

http://www.australiancurriculumlessons.com.au/2016/12/29/becoming-self-

directed-learner-digital-technologies-healthpe-lesson-years-7-10/

Callow, J., & Orlando J. (2015). Enabling exemplary teaching: A framework of student

engagement for students from low socio-economic backgrounds with the

implications for technology and literacy practices. Pedagogies: An

International Journal, 10(4), 349-371. Doi:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1554480X.2015.1066678

Cobbold, T., Polidano, C., Hanel, B., & Buddelmeyer, H. (2013). Explaining the

socioeconomic status school completion gap. Education Economics, 21(3).

230-247. Retrieved from http://www.saveourschools.com.au/equity-in-

education/explaining-the-socio-economic-gap-in-school-completion-rates

Harrington, M. (2011). Australian government funding for schools explained.

Department of Parliamentary Services. Retrieved from

https://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/library/pubs/bn/sp/schoolsfunding.pdf

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Mitchell Institute. (2015). Socio-economic disadvantage and educational opportunity

persistently linked. Retrieved from http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/wp-

content/uploads/2015/10/Factsheet-1-Effects-of-socioeconomic-status.pdf

Rotham, S. (2003). The changing influence of socioeconomic status on student

achievement: Recent evidence from Australia. Australian Council for

Educational Research. Retrieved from

http://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=ls

ay_conference

United Nations (1948). Universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved from

http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

Appendices

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