Michael Seddon


This study concerned an action research project undertaken within a mainstream 11-18 secondary school with a high proportion of pupil premium students in the north of England. Pupil premium is a grant given by the government to schools in England to decrease the attainment gap for the most disadvantaged children, whether by income or by family upheaval. The purpose was to investigate whether context-dependent memory impacts student recall during examinations. Students were tested within their standard classroom environment, then moved to a different environment for their second test. The results of this were statistically analysed and compared between genders and school years. The study demonstrated an impact, with students performing statistically worse when tested in an area that is removed from their standard environmental classroom context. Gender was shown to have no impact upon the effects, however, the school year was. Year 7 students were less affected than all other years. The reasons for this are unclear. There were limitations within this study, primarily with ensuring the examination papers were similar enough to act as a control variable. With the range of new topics introduced between the two sets of exams, students had a greater breadth of required knowledge. It was plausible therefore that there were other factors influencing the students’ poorer performance. More research will need to be undertaken to establish that is the change in context that causes lower performance.


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