Collaborated approaches to education research
These education research news articles aim to bring current education research to practicing teachers, recognising that engagement with research can be challenging for practitioners. Often teachers are battling the daily challenges of the classroom and lack the time and expertise required to apply research in their own context.
In this report, Deborah Herrington and Patrick Daubenmire discuss the limited impact research has had on classroom practice in the US over recent decades and provide food for thought for teachers and those who train them across the globe.1
Studies have shown many teachers are unfamiliar with education research and rely on personal experiences to made decisions about their teaching. Such experiences may include their own education, which is likely to have featured didactic methods and confirmatory laboratory experiments. The authors suggest this is in part due to a reliance on traditional, prescriptive professional development (PD), rather than PD that focuses on changing teachers’ ideas and beliefs. However, a typical one-day PD course featuring innovative research-based instructional strategies is unlikely to have the desired effect. Instead, teachers need the opportunity to test approaches, analyse their practice and make data-driven decisions on an ongoing basis in order to transform their teaching.
The authors cite three examples of PD programmes that had a significant impact on practice. Chemical Thinking Learning Progression engaged teachers in the collaborative development of tools to map the development of students’ chemical thinking and changed the way teachers viewed teaching and learning in their classrooms.2Target Inquiry brought teachers and university academics together to help the former develop a better understanding of the processes scientists use to construct knowledge, and had an impact in changing teachers’ mindsets. Families, Organisations, and Communities Understanding Science, Sustainability and Service, aimed to enhance understanding of chemistry in an environmental context and helped to give participating teachers a sense of purpose and direction.
These examples illustrate it is possible to effectively harness the talents of teachers as participants in meaningful learning communities and change the ways they approach their teaching. Such approaches to PD have the potential to mobilise teachers in driving the translation of research into practice, with the caveat that success requires a significant investment of time and resources that must be sustained over a prolonged period.