Grouping Students by Abilities

Subject: Psychology
Type: Compare and Contrast Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 569
Topics: Social Psychology

Between-class grouping means that students are grouped based on the measured abilities and placed in one classroom (O’Donnell, Reeve & Smith, 2009). It entails assigning students to classes or groups based on their abilities as lower (grouped in one class), average (grouped in one class) and high (also in one class). Low achievers are assigned to one class, average in another and the top performers in the other class category.  A significant advantage is that those who have the same set of talents benefit from the cross-sectional sharing of talents and skills (O’Donnell, Reeve & Smith, 2009).  Besides, students who have gifted talents and intelligence are grouped as one because being assigned to a regular class reduces or impedes their abilities to learn as there are no challenging tasks.  At the same ability, the educator develops more appropriate curricular while the attention of the teacher is entirely focused on students as they are learning at the same pace. Student with the same learning needs are easy to teach.  In reality, the class containing higher achievers is thus provided with more opportunities for engaging in independent research as well as cooperative group discussions in comparison to lower achievers (Hopkins, 2006). Furthermore, for higher achievers, they are given the chance of applying their problem-solving skills which match their higher-level thinking.    

However, between-class grouping has detrimental effects or implications on students because the low-performers are worse affected by being assigned to low-quality instruction. The suggestion is that curriculum or instruction is defined based on the ability of students or their levels. Hence, it negatively impacts children because they cannot move to the higher ranks owing to the poor quality of the instruction (O’Donnell et al., 2009). Another limitation of the between-class ability grouping is because, as of currently, the intelligence test methods or approaches are developed or created for the sake of fulfilling the demands of the market (Yekovich, 1994). Specifically, it is a problem because students’ abilities may not be extensively exhausted through such tests. The increased demands of the intelligence test tools have principally retarded the development of new and useful or the most approach measures of intellectual ability.     

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In comparison, within-class grouping entails how children are assigned groups to heterogeneous groups in a diverse class.  A student from a high-performing group can be grouped in another category for average performance, for instance, a high performer in mathematics grouped in an average group in reading (O’Donnell et al., 2009).  The proponents of this approach argue that it increases variability in talents and skills. Besides, the heterogeneity in brings about the variability in skills, abilities are exhausted, and learning or development of the children is greatly enhanced. The groups are assigned based on specific subjects. Those proposing the use of the approach argue that the effectiveness of the strategy is more enhanced when the instructional pace and materials being used have been adapted to the needs and abilities of the students (O’Donnell et al., 2009).  Moreover, a specific element of the approach is the need for continued assessment which ensures that the students advance to the next group when their skills or competencies within the assigned area have been increased.  Accordingly, O’Donnell et al. (2009) would argue that the within-class grouping is based on the individual needs of the children and with the variability of the class; it creates the room for exhausting the talents of the students to the maximum.    

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  1. Hopkins, G. (2006). Is ability grouping the way to go –or should it go away?. Education World.  
  2. O’Donnell, A. M., Reeve, J., & Smith, J. K. (2009). Educational psychology: Reflection for action. 3rd edn. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley.
  3. Yekovich, F. R. (1994). Current issues in research on intelligence. Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation, 4(4), 1-3.
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