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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Educational Research - Foundations of Teacher Pedagogy

Through the tools of social media and small-scale action research educators can be equipped with the necessary resources to engage with larger scale research and researchers. They can identify the strengths, potential classroom implication and aspects that are readily accessible with relation to practice. Some personal examples of when teachers have applied the above understandings are when students readily access visible thinking routines (Ritchhart, et. al., 2011) and a growth mindset (Dweck, 2009) within the course of the learning sequence as a framework of learning not as once off lessons that do not have a lasting impact. The teachers have not read through the complete works; however, interacted with enough others both in text and face to face that had to draw rich conclusions and move to the stage of classroom investigation.

Similar experiences can be said about Hattie’s (2007) feedback and Halbert and Kaser’s (2011) Spirals of Inquiry. Given the high levels of variability in the effectiveness of feedback, teachers need to experiment. Hattie infers that there is a need to ensure feedback is given so that it is appropriate. He also adds the positive effects can be seen when educators create the conditions for feedback. These conditions include learning intentions which are transparent and challenging and a genuine  understanding by the students of their current status relative to these goals. As a requirement the student makes a commitment to implementing strategies to move towards the goal in an environment that is both positive and productive.

With Spirals of Inquiry through experimentation the teacher observes and guides the students inquiry. One spiral leads to another learning inquiry. Small changes to the learning increases curiosity and confidence encouraging students to implement larger and more significant changes. With each spiral the students understanding of the concept goes deeper contracting the width of the content and developing personal agency. 

To conclude educational research is highly valuable. Teachers need to be involved with educational research as it lifts educational esteem allowing them to feel valued as part of education in a broader sense. This relationship between educators and researchers sees teachers involved with policy-making because they will be the experts as well as the practitioner. To appreciate the value of educational research, the value and importance of education needs to be understood. Robelen (2010) suggest modest gains in student achievement would cumulatively boost gross domestic product, therefore, by using evidence-based research to impact classroom outcomes would have a benefit for the nation's future. Educational research identifies evidence-based information, strategies and factors that when applied improve educational outcomes for students. It is a tool which provides educators with models of enriched teaching and learning and presents a measurement to judge what they are doing is working and the impact it has. How they access this research and what they do with it is fundamental.

Note: This is part four of a four-part series on the importance of research to the practitioner.
Dweck, C. S. (2009). Mindsets: Developing talent through a growth mindset. Olympic Coach, 21(1), 4-7.
Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning, Routledge.
Halbert, J., Kaser, L., & Koehn, D. (2011). Spirals of inquiry: Building professional inquiry to foster student learning. What is inquiry and how does it work? Examining Linkages in Assessment, Leadership, Teacher and Student Inquiry. Retrieved March 22 from 
Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible: How to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners. John Wiley & Sons.
Robelen, E. W. (2010). Study Links Rise in Skills to Nations' Output. Education Week, 29(19): 6.
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