Becoming an Evidence-Based Practitioner: A Framework for Teacher-Researchers

Becoming an Evidence-Based Practitioner: A Framework for Teacher-Researchers

Becoming an Evidence-Based Practitioner: A Framework for Teacher-Researchers

Becoming an Evidence-Based Practitioner: A Framework for Teacher-Researchers

Synopsis

The world of teacher research is rapidly changing following the introduction of Best Practice Research Scholarships. This was announced by the DfEE as part of a new Professional Development Plan in which teachers are to be allocated up to ¿3000 to do their own research (non-award bearing) with the support of an HE mentor. The TTA also believes that teachers should play a more active role in conceiving, implementing, evaluating and disseminating research. This book is for teachers who are looking, or being encouraged, to undertake research in their schools. Written by teachers and their HE research mentors, the book provides case studies which show teachers how to 'do' and 'use' research and how to 'do' effective pedagogy. Olwen MacNamara shows how a group of teachers set out to observe, describe, analyse and intervene in areas of primary education. The book can be raided for insights into research methods as well detailing professional issues about teaching and learning, and will be essential reading for teachers undertaking Best Practice Research Scholarships.

Excerpt

Olwen McNamara and Bill Rogers

It was a foggy February morning when a large cream envelope dropped though the door to brighten our day. 'We' were a group of university researchers and lea (local education authority) School Improvement Officers who had been waiting for just such an opportunity. It had been 4 years since we had formed a partnership with the primary intention of developing a critical mass of teacher practitioner researchers in local schools as a vehicle for school improvement. Despite having engaged a sizeable cohort of primary and secondary schools in a variety of small research-based projects, we had not yet attracted funding to enable us to pilot rigorously what we had already learnt.

What had we learnt? Well there had been some real successes. We had seen the enthusiasm of one or two teachers in a primary school transform assessment practice across the whole school and raise the profile of action research with their colleagues. We had seen a small-scale research project by two high school special educational needs staff tackle the low level of boys' literacy skills on entry, and develop it into a major strategy for improving literacy across Key Stage 3. We had seen many cases of individual teachers (re)discovering the benefits of supported reflection on their own practice. Although this had left us with the firm belief that improvement should be underpinned by engagement in research-based practice, there were also a number of salutary lessons that had been learnt. the most important, perhaps, was that it was not easy to engage teachers, let alone whole schools, in action research at a time when the pressures of league tables and impending OfSTED inspections competed for their attention. the prospects in this respect certainly did not appear likely to improve in the foreseeable future! in addition, there was not a bedrock of experience in the area on which to build, and new teachers were still not coming out of training with their research skills honed!

Nationally the 'teacher-as-researcher' movement had become well established over the previous two decades. Teachers had been involved as researchers in a number of curriculum initiatives, such as the FordT and the Schools' Council Curriculum Project depicted by John Elliott in his seminal book Action Research for Educational Change (1991). in general, however, the teachers' involvement with research was mainly in relation to award-bearing courses, and it was one thing to respond to the needs of individual teachers seeking higher degrees and quite another to encourage classroom teachers, and indeed whole schools, to engage with research in relation to their everyday work. Our experience showed that it was not enough simply to provide guidelines and encouragement. Active support was needed from colleagues who understood the

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