The importance of having research-informed methods in education has long been acknowledged. However, traditionally, teachers have had little or no support in actually finding this evidence or applying it to their work. Fortunately, a new scheme pioneered by a Coventry University research group aims to assist teachers in this by employing a hands-on approach, working directly with teachers in schools to develop their knowledge and further their skills in the field.
There is a three-strand approach to the project, which is being coordinated by the Literacy Development university research group. Teachers or other educational practitioners (such as teaching assistants or those who home-school) who wished to take part had the choice of which pathway they would like to apply for. These included:
• On-site visits at the school from a researcher to help tackle specific problems or challenges that the school has in relation to literacy or numeracy achievement.
• A mentoring scheme, in which teachers can spend some time in the research centre to access academic resources with the support of an experienced researcher.
• Twilight workshop sessions, where groups of teachers can learn together how best to find research evidence, examine educational interventions from a critical perspective and conduct research appropriately.
Although the method may vary, the research group intend for all teachers who take part in the scheme to take away the same benefits. This is to be able to support their pupils as best as they can, by giving them the skills to critically evaluate the interventions and activities that their school has in place. All should also leave the scheme with a better knowledge of research, and those attending the workshops in particular will be able to benefit from sharing knowledge with other schools and education practitioners.
Emma Vardy, Research Associate within the Literacy Development research group, says, “The option to have the researcher in the schools has been the most popular, with schools coming back with some great ideas for projects that they would like our help with. We are happy to be giving something back to the school community, who help us enormously.”
The project has also been chosen for funding by the British Psychological Society (BPS). The Psychology of Education Section chose to financially support the scheme due its practical application and the benefits that it could have within the schools taking part. The next workshop is being held on the 7th October.