Research Ed’s third national conference took place in London this month, bringing together over 600 teachers, researchers and policy makers to debate, share and celebrate educational research. This was far from just academic theorising, however, with both teachers and academics highlighting the important role that teachers are increasingly playing in determining what works in education.
This is an area where education is leading the way in crossing the tricky divide between research and practice. So what can those of us working in social care and early intervention learn from how education is engaging practitioners in this manner?
Defining a clear role for teachers in determining what works
At Research Ed it was clear that both teachers and academics saw teachers as researchers, not just consumers of research. Dr Becky Allen, Director of Education Datalab, highlighted the role of small scale, classroom research in identifying candidates for large-scale trials. As well as providing the nuggets of best practice that inspire larger projects, this enables evaluation and delivery mechanisms to be tweaked before large-scale roll out. Teachers engaged in research are also often best placed to interpret and disseminate research, increasing its value to the wider teaching community.
Making use of technology
The education research community is a technology savvy bunch. The twitter-sphere is always buzzing with evidence-based conversations and Research Ed 2015 was trending on twitter on Saturday. Not a huge surprise for a conference which was born out of a twitter conversation between Tom Bennett, teacher and writer, and Sam Freedman, Director of Research and Impact at Teach First (previously policy advisor to Michael Gove).
Blogs provide an opportunity for a longer conversation, and for those teachers looking to engage further, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) enable teachers to brush-up on their research methodology knowledge. Dr Becky Allen suggests it’s now possible to “Hack your own teacher-researcher career”.
In addition, technology platforms are appearing that enable teachers to share their own classroom-based research about what works, paving the way for the creation of a practitioner-led evidence bank.
Developing critical thinking
Developing a community of teachers that understand how to engage with and interpret research is also key. Professor Rob Coe from Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring’s Research Ed presentation celebrated how far randomised controlled trials in education have come in the last 15 years and encouraged teachers to understand the strengths and weaknesses in this research methodology, before applying the evidence to their own settings.
Pedro de Bruyckere debunked some common education myths whilst Tim Oates, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development at Cambridge Assessment, taught us to think critically about international comparisons.
There were also many examples of communities of interest coming together to review research and share their findings. In one example, the Institute of Education facilitated a programme of research-based workshops with key influencers in primary schools. These were then disseminated within their networks, spreading the skills within the wider school communities.
How can Capita One help?
Through our work with the Early Intervention Foundation, we are continuing to support local authorities in determining which initiatives and services are working. In addition, we are investing heavily in One Analytics, our new reporting and analysis tools. This will support local authorities in evidence-based decision making by making it easier for them to:
- identify the needs or issues within a locality, team or other entity that need addressing
- determine the changes or services that are most likely to have impact
- target these services to the population that is most likely to benefit
- monitor service delivery
- review impact
Local authorities will then be able to identify the best questions to ask of the available research, as well as being equipped to evaluate the impact of changes that are made.
Find out more about One Analytics.
Visit the Research Ed website