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This thesis reports on a research study aimed at examining the impact of informal and formal assessment on the self-esteem of pupils with borderline difficulties and language deficiencies learning in mixed ability English language classes. The thesis adopted a qualitative ethnographic methodology with triangulated methods to enquire into macro and micro views of the main concepts in this study. Thus, data were collected by participant observation within English classes, informal and formal interviews with pupils and teachers at the research site and semi-structured interviews at home with parents and pupils. Questionnaires for 6 teachers, pupils and parents [total n=31] were administered 22 pupils were observed over a period of nine months, spanning 5th September 2005 to May 2006 and 3 parents interviewed due to availability of willing pupils and their parents. This was followed by structured and semi-structured questionnaire administration and interviews with six teachers and pupils [n=22]. The experiences of pupils deemed to be struggling with learning, yet not certificated as having learning difficulties were analyzed utilizing the methodology outlined by [Lincoln and Guba 1985; Creswell 1998; Richards 2005; and Bryman 2004] among others, and the data provided rich ground for a potential development of a substantive theory of learning and self-esteem. The questions focused on the evidence of classroom, and on verbal and non-verbal teacher treatment of the focus group. It also focused on the perceptions and expectations of teachers and students regarding assessment [formal and informal] and how it impacts on pupils’ self esteem. Some themes that emerged in the study included the following: resistance to learning and to authority, ridicule and racism, treats and intimidations, student-teacher infatuation, racial and bullying, counter- school culture, and unfair teaching practices. Findings from this research study are a mixed bag. The evidence suggests that, self-esteem is dynamic and has an inherent executive capacity based particularly on individual competence, beliefs, thinking and feeling components. Furthermore, there was no evidence to suggest that pupils performing poorly suffered low self-esteem.
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