Engaging with research

What do we mean by engaging with research?

In a ‘research-engaged school’, colleagues will engage both in and with research. When engaging in research, colleagues will research and investigate their own practice, possibly through Lesson Study or enquiry, and occasionally with the support of an HEI or part of a broader research project. When engaging with research, colleagues will be informed by research and evidence, and will be confident using, discussing and criticising research. This should form part of an enquiry or Lesson Study (ie researching which intervention to try), but is not the whole process.

This section explores how to support staff to engage with research. You may also be interested in Ben Goldacre’s paper on how, as a sector, we can ‘Build Evidence into Education’.

How to access research?

Through your TDT Network you have free access to the EBSCO Portal, which includes:

  • Full text for over 1,800 journals
  • Indexing and abstracts for thousands of journals
  • Full text for more than 550 books and monographs
  • Full text for numerous education-related conference papers
  • Citations for over 5 million articles, including book reviews
  • And much more…

To access the research, click here. You are likely to find that different colleagues will have varying levels of confidence in using academic research. It is helpful to direct colleagues to what is most relevant to them, and to facilitate discussions around any research they engage with.

You can also access this free research library from Thinking Reading with multiple great resources here.

Free access to the book Research Methods in Education!

Blog: The School-University Partnership for Educational Research: Research Access

What is credible research?

Resource: What is credible research

Resource: 10 Credible Sources to start

Want to check credibility? A new website has been launched that makes asking for evidence and getting help understanding that evidence as easy as possible. You can use it to ask politicians, companies, NGOs and anyone else for evidence behind their claims, while you’re on the train, walking down the street or sitting in front of the TV. And if you need help understanding the evidence you’ve been sent, that’s there too. Seen a claim in a newspaper about a new approach in education? Ask for evidence!

Article: How to read education data without jumping to conclusions?

Where to start?

Resource: 10 Research-Based Strategies that all teachers should know

Blog – Seven areas of teaching theory every new teacher should know

Blog – Contemporary educational ideas my staff should know about, Tom Sherrington

Research: Researching Teachers, Researching Schools, Researching Networks: A Review of the Literature, McLaughlin et al, University of Cambridge

Article: Building a research-based culture in a school: a personal perspective from a headteacher

Resource: Creating a research‑engaged school: A guide for senior leaders, NFER

Research: Teachers’ Use of Research Evidence A case study of United Learning schools National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and United Learning

Article: Teachers’ Tips – Tried and tested: how schools can learn lessons from evidence-based research

Research: Developing Knowledge Mobilisation to Challenge Educational Disadvantage (2012)

Research: Deans for Impact: The Science of Learning (2015)

Resource: SEDL: Advancing Research, Improving Education: Reading resources

Recommended Books

Any practical tips?

  • Ensure you have an open culture.

By engaging with research, staff will begin to challenge their own, and possibly others’ thinking. To have a truly research-engaged school, all colleagues, including leaders, should be open to changing their approach in light of new research. Ensure that your school has an open and innovative culture. Enable to staff to take risks in a disciplined way.

  • Enable staff to innovate and take risks in their practice.

Just as with pupils, colleagues often feel reluctant to leave their ‘safe space’ and try out new things. Ensure that colleagues feel safe to innovate, whilst also evaluating the impact of any innovations. Article: ‘Giving it a Go’

  • Avoid ‘pick and mix!’

Once colleagues begin engaging further with external research and ideas, it can be tempting to try out a new idea each lesson. However, the risk with this is that nothing is ever embedded in the most effective way. Ensure that an approach with a strong evidence based is tried out, refined and evaluated, using an approach such as Lesson Study.