UBC Graduate Research

Provincial exams and social learning in Vancouver high schools Ralph, Rob; Hinmueller, Roland; Myring, Tom; Ralph, Rob


This study explores the links between provincial exam testing in British Columbia and teachers’ instructional choices related to social learning activities in Vancouver high schools. This paper provides a definition of social learning (SL) based upon the literature in the field of social-emotional learning. The study examines the perspectives of secondary teachers in subjects with provincial exams and how they use social learning activities. The influence of provincial exams on teachers’ instructional practices was analyzed through a combination of online survey and interview data. A mixed-methods approach allowed us to both develop multiple perspectives on how provincial exams play a role in influencing what types and to what extent teachers use SL activities and gain a better understanding of the Vancouver high school setting and context. Our survey’s small sample size of 21 participants led to significant weight to individual responses and subsequent comparisons between grade levels within subject areas offer observations with reservations. An analysis of our collected interview and survey data suggested that teachers who often interpreted SL as activities that lead students to become participatory citizens valued SL. Second, many teachers value provincial exams but at the same time recognize they may limit their use of SL activities. Third these findings are valuable for the consideration for educational leaders and for future provincial exam policy in British Columbia. Fourth, a teacher’s use of SL is a complicated issue that requires the consideration of a number of factors and its use (or lack thereof) cannot often be attributed solely to the provincial exam.

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