ResearchEd 1: Carol Davenport

Carole’s session is a cut down version of what she does at the National Science Learning Centre with teachers preparing to do action research. It’s packed out!

Action research isn’t a randomised control trial – it’s one person doing something in a classroom. It’s not always objective and it doesn’t always prove something. It’s not research that’s done to teachers – it’s teachers doing it. And it’s not new. It’s a way of professionals improving their practice by identifying what they’re interested in and putting it into practice, and then being reflective about it.

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We start by considering what makes a good research question. We look at a list of examples and talk about what makes them good or bad. I like the idea of “what strategies will most improve students’ performance on a 6 mark question?” which seems quite straightforward and gives me the idea that a research project can be mini as well as full size. The feedback from the room says a good question is well honed, deals with a specific issue, identifies how to measure and types of evidence, is manageable individually with little support. Like enquiry units in History, getting the question right can be the hardest part. You have to be specific. Spend time thinking about what’s out there

Next we consider different pedagogical areas, as identified by Hattie.

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It doesn’t have to be cutting edge research – straightforward is valuable because it’s about YOUR classroom context.

Then there needs to be data collection – most commonly by observation, by interview (focus groups

etc), questionnaires, testing (pre and post intervention). It will always be flawed and limited, but the thinking around it is the most beneficial part. Search on Education Endowment Foundation website for information about calculating effect sizes.

Carole talks us through her planning sheet and we have a go at it. She puts emphasis on the importance of sharing good practice with colleagues – think about how and where and when this will happen.

This has been extremely enlightening!

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