I was recently complaining bitterly to friends about the refusal of government to actually view any research evidence before embarking on some huge innovation which will disrupt the lives of teachers, parents and children without the slightest idea if it is actually going to work. I was surprised when a highly intelligent, well-informed friend simply shrugged off the idea of evaluations in education, particularly comparative studies. “Too complicated, can’t be done…”
That brought me up short. I admit that much educational research leaves me a bit queasy; I used to squirm when speakers confidently proclaimed that ‘on average’ people with Level 2 numeracy earn £5,000 a year more than those with lower qualifications. While this may well be ‘true’, there is no causal link; if you pass GCSE maths no-one is going to come along and give you a pay rise – though as a result of this you may, in time, achieve higher pay than you would have done otherwise (though again, that is impossible to prove). Untangling the complexities of lives is a constant problem for all involved in social science research.
Comparison studies are complex in a different way. In the research into the impact of curricula in nine ‘high achieving’ jurisdictions, led by Dr Tina Isaacs and funded by the Read more ›
Last week, delegates to the American Educational Research Association held its enormous annual conference in Washington DC. Engaging with research and evidence as part of effective professional teacher development is an obvious topic for such a gathering of teachers, academics, school leaders and students. It has benefits for teacher practice and pupil outcomes. At the same time school leaders often require help with understanding how to harness these benefits. As I note in Leading the Use of Research and Evidence in Schools, however, school leaders can support evidence-informed practice by addressing the five key checklist items set out below.
CHECKLIST ITEM 1: does your approach to research and evidence use demonstrate your own commitment as well as facilitate the efforts of others?
School leadership must actively and demonstrably buy-in to research and evidence use for it to become part of a school’s ‘way of life’. This means that school leaders must not only promote the vision for and develop the culture of a research engaged school, they must Read more ›
Nobody would dispute that teachers should have a high level of literacy and be able to read and write well. But what about ‘assessment literacy’?
It is well known that assessment is a tricky business. But being able to mark students’ work fairly and accurately – in other words knowing the rules – is not enough; assessors must also ensure that students learn from assessment. Being able to give students helpful feedback and making sure that they make good use of it is as essential to assessment literacy (or assessment know-how) as spelling and grammar are to writing.
Research at the UCL Institute of Education in the Assessment Careers project showed, surprisingly, that even experienced postgraduate students merely read their feedback and Read more ›
Loris Malaguzzi (1920-94) was one of the great educationalists of the 20th century. He was a thinker, but also a doer, a council employee who played a leading role in the evolution of a network of municipal schools in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia, 70 kilometres west of Bologna. Today, the schools and Malaguzzi are an inspiration to those who resist the spread of neoliberal and neoconservative education policies.
Most educationalists won’t have heard of Reggio Emilia or Malaguzzi. This is in part because both are Italian, and most of his work is in Italian. A newly published book – ‘Loris Malaguzzi and the Schools of Reggio Emilia’ – edited by myself and colleagues in Reggio Emilia, aims to rectify this, with English translations of a selection of his writings and speeches, starting in 1945 (when, as he wrote ‘everything seemed possible’). But there’s another reason. Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia are world famous for early childhood education, a field largely untrodden by the rest of education. Yet Malaguzzi was convinced that he was engaged in a project of educational renewal, which knew no age bounds.
What lessons does Malaguzzi have for all education? He insists that education is, first and Read more ›