Aims, challenges, means and organisation
The Research Centre for Schools, Colleges and Teacher Education (SCaTE) aims to encourage the generation of high-quality research, robustly theorized, that benefits students and teaching staff. This aim implies,
- investigating questions, around schools, colleges and teacher education, that are relevant to practitioners and are situated in problems of public interest
- framing these questions in a strong theoretical foundation and an existing literature base
- designing and implementing rigorous enquiry, with due attention to ethical implications
- communicating findings clearly, accurately and accessibly, to academic and practitioner audiences
SCaTE will need to take an innovative approach to research because relationships between research and educational practice have often been problematic. Despite repeated calls for research which ‘demonstrates conclusively that if teachers change their practice from x to y there will be a significant and enduring improvement in teaching and learning’ (Hargreaves, 1997) conclusive findings of this type have been extremely hard to find, despite many millions of pounds being spent on educational research, not only in the UK but around the world (Pring 2000). In part, this is because the ‘methods’ that teachers employ are only a small part of the complex business of teaching and learning which also involves, inter alia, the personalities, knowledge, skills and attributes of teachers and students, within the cultural milieu of the school or college. In part also it is because,
Teachers will not take up attractive sounding ideas, albeit based on extensive research, if these are presented as general principles which leave entirely to them the task of translating them into everyday practice—their classroom lives are too busy and too fragile for this to be possible for all but an outstanding few. (Black & Wiliam, 1998, 15)
This difﬁculty of ‘putting research into practice’ is therefore a continuing challenge in education and the ways in which research influences educational practice are often indirect (e.g. through ITT, CPD and local and national policy). For example, a widespread shift from behaviourist models of teaching to constructivist, and later social constructivist teaching, would arguably have been impossible without the seminal work of researchers such as Piaget, Dewey, Vygotsky and Bruner, and a huge number of researchers and teacher educators who developed their thinking and applied it to specific circumstances (Laurillard 2008).
Researching educational practice will involve teachers, not as the objects of research but as research partners, involved in formulating research questions, developing and / or implementing strategies and interventions, collecting and analysing data, and drawing out conclusions from the data. There are well-established models for collaborative research (e.g. Stenhouse 1975; Elliott 2001) which will need to be adapted for present circumstances because the political and social contexts of today are different from those towards the end of the twentieth century. In general, the forms of research undertaken by SCaTE will include,
- Reviews of research that focus on implications for practice in schools, colleges and teacher education
- Research, undertaken by academics, with the collaboration of teachers and school and college leaders
- Joint research by academics and teachers
- Teacher research, supported by academics
In order to fulfill its aims, SCaTE will:
- Encourage collaborative research with teachers in schools and colleges
- Encourage the publication and dissemination of research findings to academic and practitioner audiences
- Encourage and mentor colleagues in their research careers
- Bid for external and internal funding for research projects around schools, colleges and teacher education
SCaTE will seek out partners in schools, Colleges and other educational settings (including other universities) and with educational research associations such as the British Educational Research Association and the European Educational Research Association.
SCaTE will draw its membership from across the Faculty of Education and will invite teachers and school leaders to become full members. It will be organized by a Leadership Group which will monitor progress and determine future actions. The Leadership Group will contain the co- directors (Tim Cain & Arthur Chapman) four members of academic staff (e.g. one from each of the Faculty’s Areas) and, when appointed, a Partnership Development Manager (responsible for seeking out new research partners and managing the communications with existing ones), a TRA seconded teacher, a Research Assistant and an FoE research student representative. It will involve a headteacher and at least one teacher and, in recognition of the fact that it is often difficult for such people to get time away from school, some meetings will be held in schools or colleges.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998b). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. London: School of Education, King’s College.
Elliott (2001): Making Evidence-based Practice Educational, British Educational Research Journal, 27:5, 555-574
James, M., and A. Pollard. 2011. TLRP’s ten principles for effective pedagogy: Rationale, development, evidence, argument and impact. Research Papers in Education 26, no. 3: 275–326.
Hargreaves, D. (1996). Teaching as a research-based profession; possibilities and prospects. The Teacher Training Agency lecture. 1996, London: Teachers Training Agency.
Laurillard (2008) Laurillard D: Digital technologies and their role in achieving our ambitions for education. London: Institute of Education.
Pring, R. (2000) Philosophy of Educational Research. London: Continuum.
Stenhouse, L. (1975) An introduction to Curriculum Research and Development., London: Heineman.