Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum
One very recent study which was specifically focused on the impact of VT on pupils’ prosocial behaviour was by Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum, who gave a standard pyschological personality test questionnaire to 87 pupils (32 x Y7 and 58 x Y9/10s) two months before and then four months after their mixed comprehensive school's transition from a horizontal to a vertical structure (Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum, 2011). They also asked teachers to rate classroom climate before and after (ibid).

The authors’ aim was to measure the pupils’ levels of empathy, perspective-taking, social responsibility and prosocial behaviour before and after the transition, and to see if there were any significant links between these four. They did this by asking Likert scale questions such as 'How often do you try to share what you've learned with your classmates' and 'How often do you try to cheer someone up when something has gone wrong', as well as by asking them the extent to which they agreed with statements such as 'my class is like a family' and some open questions (Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum, 2011, p. 13).

On the whole the results were disappointing for those expecting a rapid transformation. There was no significant change, for better or worse in prosocial behaviour in either gender. Only 26% said they had made new friends and that it was more fun in their vertical tutor group, and only 22% said they had become more confident and that bullying had stopped (Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum, 2011). Even fewer, 13.7%, said they could discuss their problems in their vertical tutor group (ibis.). According to the small sample of staff surveyed, there was not a statistically significantly improvement in classroom climate (ibis.).

The most positive result was a small but statistically significant increase in older boys' levels of perspective-taking (Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum, 2011). In addition, the regression analysis found significant links between a pupil's level of perspective-taking and their levels of social responsibility before and after the transition to VT. It also found significant links between a pupil's levels of empathy and perspective-taking with their levels of prosocial behaviour before and after. This supported the findings of other researchers who also linked these three (ibis.).

Rather confusingly, qualitative data showed 80% of participants felt positive about their new vertical tutor group although they actually reported a decline in the classroom climate (Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum, 2011). This suggests to me that perhaps four months was not long enough for the pupils to have made up their minds. The researchers described pupils’ levels of empathy, perspective-taking, social responsibility and prosocial behaviour as relatively high to begin with, so there might have been less room for improvement (ibis.). Interestingly, the school's 2010 Ofsted report, conducted four months after the second questionnaire and after eight months of VT, described behaviour at the school as only satisfactory (Ofsted, 2010). However they did say that it was improving and that the change to vertical tutoring had played an important role in improving the school's care, guidance and support, which were now good (Ofsted, 2010). Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum felt that perhaps four months was not long enough for the change in social environment to take effect and, based on what some teachers, parents and pupils have said online, I think they may be right because the pupils’ resentment at having their social environment changed may not have worn off. The authors speculated that perspective-taking did increase whereas other aspects did not because exposure to the feelings and experiences of older and/or younger peers may affect adolescents' social cognition first, which concurs with some other research (Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum, 2011). It may be that improved social cognition is a necessary pre-cursor to improved social responsibility and prosocial behaviour (if thought precedes action) and that longer exposure is needed before the former affects the latter.

As well as the short exposure to VT, the writers also speculated that results might have been been influenced by the fact that the pre-VT test was done in June, when weather was better while the post-VT test was done in January, when weather was worse and there was still the school year to go (Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum, 2011). They also relied on just one method of data collection, the pupils' and teachers’ self-reporting questionnaires, which can be influenced by the respondents’ own expectations or the perceived expectations of others (Ewan-Corrigan and Gummerum, 2011). This was one of my motivations for using a multi-method approach in my own research. Also absent is any detailed analysis of what took place in the vertical tutor groups, which was one of my reasons for focusing on the micro-detail of activities in VTGs in my research.