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Ricerca per l'innovazione della scuola italiana
Innovazione metodologica e organizzativa nelle scuole piccole

Learning and teaching in the multi-age class

Tipo di ricerca: Teoretica
Ambito: Ricerca endogena

INDIRE’s research, documents and institutional guidelines identify the multi-age classes as a choice dictated by the need to keep the school facility open despite the reduced number of students. Precisely because of its lack of valorisation from a pedagogical and didactic point of view, the multi- age class encounters strong resistance from families but also from the teachers and the staff of the school world, who due to the absence of appropriate training investments are unable to see its opportunities: the multi-age class is therefore often identified with a disadvantaged learning context for students, in particular for the most fragile, compared to the “standard” class and is described as an educational situation that requires from the teacher a heavy commitment in trying to dedicate a fair amount of time to all the school levels present in the classroom.

The research activity arises from the need to identify the difficulties and problematic situations typical of teaching in multi-age classes in Italian schools, to determine whether this prejudice is true, to identify and disseminate paradigmatic cases inherent to the curriculum, didactic and evaluation situations, learning groups and spaces. In the 2020/2021 academic year, exploratory research was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Human Sciences of the University of Verona, which collected, through a questionnaire, the opinions of the professors of 232 multi-age classes (179 of primary school and 53 of lower secondary school) distributed throughout the country.

Research questions

Q1: What were in the past the didactic conditions, curriculum organization and learning space conditions, that facilitated the management of a multi-age class, and what are they today?

Q2: What is the impact of the multi-age class on the academic success of students, in particular, on those who are more fragile in relation to the socio-cultural context to which they belong? (See INVALSI test results)

Q3: What are the ways of organizing the curriculum that favour multi-class formative assessment processes?

The research questions will have an impact on the quality of the educational experience achieved in small schools with multi-age classes, which are isolated, and placed in contexts of high educational poverty with training offers aimed at favouring the academic success of pupils through specific didactic strategies and particular curricular organizations and the use of the educational space.


Direct: teachers and students of small Italian schools with multi-age classes

Indirect: families, headteachers, territorial school offices and regional school offices

Relevant stakeholders: Universities and Scientific Associations to rethink the teacher training curriculum