Undertaking #EdResearch

Most of us don’t realise that we’re actively undertaking research each day in the classroom, tweaking certain aspects of our teaching, interactions and responding to situations that surprise us, positively or negatively. Although not formal, such micro-research elements of classroom interactions are rarely reflected upon, formalised, or recognised as research. Sometimes, a certain aspect of what happens in the classroom will stay in our minds, and some teachers will actually explore undertaking research in their classroom, as a means of professional development, and making them even better at the job they do.

This is a summary of the #UKEdChat Online Discussion (session 458). The archive and the questions can be found here.

The reasons for undertaking formal research in the classroom are multi-faceted and could include trying to gain a better status within the profession, for one’s own personal development, or even to brush off any feelings of imposter syndrome that might exist. No matter what the reason, the main motivation behind any research should be at better informing the classroom practices that impact on children’s learning, improving the chances of succeeding at the elements of education where they shine and supporting the elements where they struggle more. Essentially, the main motivation behind any classroom research should be improving the teaching and learning for our pupils.

One of the main challenges for teachers in undertaking educational research is accessing the plethora of information which is available. Although many research articles are hidden behind publishers pay-walls, there are ways that teachers can find out about research at a digestible level that won’t take too much time, and peak interest in an area that resonates with their own experience. Engagement and interest in educational research can be renewed and strengthened once people have easy access to it through employers or access schemes.

Headlines or snippets about educational research can often be found within social media, but the key is to know that research is not always perfect, it can be flawed/biased and correlation does not equal causation. Additionally, networking at events can lead to opportunities to see what educational research is being undertaken, exploring the changing landscape of what models or approaches are valued in schools, networks and (controversially) inspection frameworks – however, doing research to impress the inspectors should not be a priority at all.

Another major challenge for educational research is that most classroom teachers are too busy to worry about research and tend to stick to what they know works.

Context is a major part of educational research, and what works well in one piece of research will have so many different and unique variables involved that replication in another classroom – with different sets of variables – is impossible. For teachers, gaining an essence of what the research informs is essential, and to be ready to understand that it might not work out in their classroom. We often hear of educational research success stories, not as much with research failure stories, where many lessons can actually be learned from. The problem with all educational research is not pure science, you cannot control a lot of the variables involved in a study. Rosenshine’s Principles of Teaching (see here) can be a guide of sharing what research-based strategies that teachers should know about. Rosenshine declared

the best way to become an expert is through practice – thousands of hours of practice. The more the practice, the better the performance.

Barak Rosenshine, 2012

At its very core, teaching is about children learning, and research influences how we teach in every way we can think of. Keeping up to date makes a significant difference in how you work. Bringing in new ideas and skills is not only good for yourself but your students too. It is important to be aware of but try not to follow one particular trend over another. The information available is incredibly diverse, can be biased, and contradictory. It can very much depend on you as a teacher and your setting as to what works, why and how.

Are you undertaking classroom research? We want to hear about it, so we can share with the UKEdChat community. Please click here to find out how you can share your classroom/school research projects to a large audience who want to learn from you.

Compiled by: Colin Hill

Further reading

Doing your Education research project via @SAGEeducation at Doing your Education research project | SAGE Publications Ltd

Rosenshine’s Prunciples of Teaching https://uked.wiki/doku.php?id=rosenshine

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About @digicoled 290 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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