In the past few years, schools have focused more on the use of research, especially into how pupils learn and the implications on effective teaching.

One reason teachers have needed to become more research informed is to respond to the masses of misinformation presented to us. Even when a teaching approach is exposed as incorrect, it can continue to influence how we work.

One example is the learning pyramid, which is based on Edgar Dale’s cone of experience. This was a theoretical framework that made no mention of learning but soon took on a life of its own, as the learning pyramid. Most teachers will have been given information apparently based on this work – for example, that pupils only remember 5% of what they’re told but 90% of what they teach others.

A designated research lead can filter what’s out there and share the most robust evidence for their colleagues

There is not – and never has been – any evidence to support those claims and yet they still appear in continuing professional development (CPD) sessions and advice to teachers. Even when the fault in the original idea is known, it is so ingrained in “good practice” that it still holds sway; I’ve met plenty of teachers who limit how much time they spend talking to a class as a result.

Another example is the idea that pupils should be taught according to their learning style. Despite this thinking being widely criticised and evidence for it lacking, as many as 93% of teachers in the UK still hold on to this idea. In my experience, few schools ever told teachers to start teaching different learning styles; they just stopped mentioning it – so its use died out, but not necessarily the underlying belief.

Identifying what actually works

Some of these problems have arisen because research often seems to be done “to” teachers rather than with them. As Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson point out, “Teachers have been given answers to questions they didn’t ask and solutions to problems that never existed”.

When useful research is given to teachers, it’s usually a list of strategies divorced from their original reasoning. Take the use of lollipop sticks in the classroom, where every pupil in the class has a number, and those numbers are also written on lollipop sticks – when asking a question, you choose a stick and ask that pupil. What was originally used as a way of ensuring the same pupils don’t always answer questions is now insisted on by some schools as the only way questions should be asked.

Does this mean that we should give up on educational research? This might be tempting, but as former headteacher Tom Sherrington writes: “It’s important to develop an understanding of educational research, its scope and limitations. It’s not ‘anything goes’ or ‘whatever works for me’ – there are strong messages that emerge from the complexity.”

Sharing knowledge

So how can schools and teachers find research that’s relevant to them, identify what is rigorous and work out how it can be applied? One increasingly common solution is for the school to invest in the role of a research lead.

“Teachers do need to be research-informed but the pressure of the workload means that they don’t have the time to keep track of it all,” Macpherson said. “A designated research lead can filter what’s out there and share the most robust evidence for their colleagues. This avoids duplication of effort and improves pupil learning.”

As part of this role, Jade Slater, assistant headteacher at Walton High School, creates a newsletter each term to summarise a range of educational research and discuss its application in the classroom. She also runs optional in-house training, with the opportunity for teachers to carry out their own research on effective teaching. This encourages teachers to engage with the research of others and reflect on their own practice.

The director of teaching and learning at Wyedean School, Julie Smith, uses lesson study to develop a culture of collaboration and evaluation of effective teaching.

In my own school, our pedagogy innovation team has additional non-contact time to read research

“A collaborative approach to lesson planning and observation is enabling our staff to become more open and reflective in their discussions,” she says. The school then uses this to evaluate its evidence-informed interventions and understand what works.

Meanwhile, at St Leonard’s Academy in East Sussex, Chris Dean has been focusing on effective strategies to help with memory and sharing these approaches with pupils. They are encouraged to use techniques based on spaced practice and dual coding, and discouraged from simply re-reading and highlighting notes.

Cutting unnecessary tasks from teaching

Engaging with educational research can also help tackle the factors that are driving teachers from the profession such as marking, much of which is inefficient and may be harmful to progress. Dean told me: “We’ve thought about the research into effective feedback and have drastically reduced our expectation of the frequency of written comment marking.”

In my own school, our pedagogy innovation team has additional non-contact time to read research. We lead CPD sessions and workshops and share what we’ve learned through our school’s teaching and learning blog. Other teams also focus on specific areas of the school’s priorities, such as literacy, and share evidence of good practice with staff.

Being research-informed means we gain a better understanding of what’s likely to work. We can shake off poor advice and out-of-date ideas, and have the confidence to do what we know to be effective.

Follow us on Twitter via @GuardianTeach, like us on Facebook, and join the Guardian Teacher Network the latest articles direct to your inbox

Looking for a teaching job? Or perhaps you need to recruit school staff? Take a look at Guardian Jobs, the education specialist.

原文地址:https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2017/nov/23/how-can-we-make-research-work-harder-in-our-schools