INCLUD-ED Interactive Groups
Interactive Groups is one of the Successful Educational Actions (SEAs) identified in the research project INCLUD-ED. INCLUD-ED analysed educational strategies that contribute to overcoming inequalities and promote social cohesion, and those generating social exclusion, particularly focusing on vulnerable and marginalised groups. Interactive Groups are used to improve the education of children and youth in different contexts. They consist of grouping students in a class into small heterogeneous groups, each of them supported by an adult. Each of these groups is organised around four or five students, in a heterogeneous way regarding ability level, gender, culture, language and ethnicity. This example provides an understanding of IG and the results of their practice.
Interactive Groups (IG) is one of the Successful Educational Actions (SEAs) identified in the research project INCLUD-ED: Strategies for inclusion and social cohesion in Europe from education (European Commission, 6th Framework Program, 2006-2011). INCLUD-ED analysed educational strategies that contribute to overcoming inequalities and promote social cohesion, and those generating social exclusion, particularly focusing on vulnerable and marginalised groups. The SEAs supporting the education of pupils at risk, have universal components which have been showed to be transferable in very diverse contexts, leading to educational success. IG are used to improve the education of children and youth in different contexts around the world.
The theoretical framework underlying IG departs from the extensive scientific literature that indicates the negative impact of ability grouping on student learning, expectations and self-esteem, the possibility to learn from peers, and move to higher ability groups, especially for vulnerable students, plus the need to multiply and diversify the interactions students are exposed to. In line with the outstanding approaches of learning sciences, IG involve and promote the quantity and quality of interactions of all students with a dialogic approach to learning. The theory of dialogic learning maintains that learners reach a deep understanding of subject knowledge and engage in processes of personal and social transformation through dialogues that are egalitarian, recognize and build upon each person’s cultural intelligence, seek transformation, enhance the instrumental dimension of dialogue, are based on the value of solidarity, act as sources of creation of meaning, and rely on and promote equal value of different backgrounds. Thus, IG achieve the participation of all those who directly or indirectly influence learning and development of pupils, including teachers, relatives, friends, neighbours, members of associations and neighbourhood organizations and local volunteers.
IG can be used as an independent practice but are also implemented in Schools as Learning Communities, along with other SEAs such as Dialogic Literary Gatherings and Family education. Learning Communities is a project based on a whole school intervention to overcome early school leaving and improve school performance and social cohesion. As a result of the improvements achieved in these schools, the European Commission and the Council of Europe have recommended considering schools as learning communities to reduce early school leaving and improve learning outcomes.
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