My only previous exposure to teachers carrying-out research in their own school was Sandringham School’s Sandagogy site and the Sandringham Learning Journals therein.
That was until I chanced upon the Samuel Whitbread Academy’s Anthecology (no, me neither) and while it may be entirely coincidental that both are Academies, I’m guessing it’s probably not. Which, if true, means there must be quite a few schools engaging in this kind of thing without any of it reaching the wider audience it deserves.
This is a little ironic given that Anthecology involves the study of the relationship between plants and their pollinators (I was lying earlier), so I’m firmly of the opinion that it behoves me to take it upon myself to do what little I can to spread a little pollinating power by bringing these resources to a wider audience.
That would be you, then.
Lesson Study Journals
While there’s a whole rationale surrounding the theory and practice of Study Journals you can read about if you’re so inclined, the Whitbread version is fairly basic and easily digested if you’re less inclined.
In a nutshell it involves teachers doing some basic research in and around their own classrooms and subjects and sharing the outcome of that research with other teachers in the school.
It’s probably more exciting than I’ve made it sound.
What teachers choose to research seems to be up to them but from what I’ve read it all seems to be fairly standard stuff directed squarely at school improvement. This, as you might expect, has come to be largely synonymous with “Getting Better Grades” and a lot of the research (how to engage “disaffected” pupils, how to improve grades, how to prepare pupils for theory exams – you probably get the picture…) has this general focus.
However, before we (by which I mean I) get too sniffy about this I should add this aim is probably what most teachers ultimately want. Even if they probably wouldn’t necessarily express it in quite the following way:
“As a self-improving school system we have interwoven the four elements of self-evaluation, development planning, performance management and continuous professional development centred around a model of evidence-based action research to create what we hope will become a powerful model of school improvement”.
Whatever your particular take on this general idea. I’m of the opinion that, in principle, it’s a Good Idea – hence my decision to share it with you.
In all there are 5 year’s worth of research you can download, neatly categorised by year. Each anthology offers contributions from all of the subject areas offered by the school and while there’s likely to be stuff that doesn’t hold any interest for you, there’s certainly going to be ideas and evidence that you might, at the very least, want to try.
And given this blog is nominally aimed at sociology and psychology teachers, I’ve highlighted the studies carried out by each of these subject teams each year.
Another issue dedicated to Deliberate Practice and both the Sociology and Psychology sections of this issue examine its classroom application at A-level. If you’re in the market for something a little-bit-new that’s based on a range of memory techniques that at least have the benefit of some measure of validity then you could do a lot worse than have a read of this.
In a slight change of focus from previous years, this issue is based around putting CPD into classroom practice and the emphasis / application here is something called Deliberate Practice. This looks Quite Interesting and might well be a learning strategy that’s worth pursuing. It’s based around various forms of retrival practice (mostly doing a lot of questioning and testing), spaced learning and the like. These, you might be aware, are the current neuro-psycho techniques de nos jours and might be worth a punt?
Sociology: “To what extent can peer assessment be incorporated to improve the written assessment of our MA GCSE students?”
Psychology: “How far can scaffolding during formative assessments increase engagement and confidence with exam questions?”
Sociology: “To what extent can adopting targeted process goals enable students to meet their target grade?”
Psychology: “Can process goals improve how we communicate targets with students?”
Sociology: “To what extent do teachers’ expectations (a can do attitude) and planning for resilience create a growth mindset and resilience in students?”
Psychology: “To what extent can scaffolding be used to increase student independence and resilience in attempting an extended assessment question?”
Sociology: “To what extent can Flip-It homework enable students who are at risk of underperforming to make good progress?”
Psychology: “The ten mark question was often being left blank by lower ability students and not completed to a good standard by higher ability students”
Sociology: “Mid PA students struggle to achieve more than 2 out of 5 on complex exam questions which require a high level understanding of literacy and semantics”
Psychology: “Our aim was to help students accurately interpret longer mark exam questions and identify how they would successfully answer them”