Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance
Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance

Research and Development

As an essential part of our work as a Teaching School Alliance, we are increasing our involvement in educational research and developing initiatives at a range of levels. Engagement with and engagement in research is a critical element of school improvement and individual CPD for teachers and teaching assistants by focussing directly on improved pupil outcomes. Being research literate is also a step in the professionalism of teaching as a whole.

 

Fundamental to this, is creating capacity within schools to engage with research be it reading or carrying out evidence based practice. OTSA is committed to supporting schools to achieve this by enabling links with Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University and by offering a wealth of materials and CPD opportunities in this field.

 

OTSA is also able to bid for research funding for specific projects as and when those opportunities arise.

Hopefully all schools have had their copies of the latest Chartered College of Teaching publication - Impact: ‘The Science of Learning’. If not, it is well worth a read. The journal covers a range of topics linked to neuroscience and the ‘science of learning’ with particular focus on: making learning stick; mind, mindset and learning and building a science of learning. Since reading Daniel Willingham’s excellent ‘Why don’t students like School?’ I have been fascinated by what science might do to help teachers become even more effective. My only concern was that many of the ideas linked to neuroscience are very recent and the not so distant past is littered with new initiatives and some fads that have now been discredited. As a leader of Teaching and Learning and CPD, I do not want to create a greater workload for staff for anything other than strategies that have an impact on student outcomes. So it was really good to see ideas based on research in the journal. The article ‘Applying the Science of Learning in the Classroom’ (Howard-Jones et al) deconstructs the categories of the learning process as engagement, building knowledge and understanding and consolidation of learning. The authors stress that whilst science can help us understand how learning works; the role of the teacher adapting their teaching based on observations of student behaviour and engagement is key to consolidating learning. ‘Optimising learning using retrieval practice’ by Sumeracki and Weinstein reinforces the importance of retrieval practice in improving learning. Whilst they do not prescribe a method of conducting this in teaching, they do suggest that students gain most when they experience some success from testing their recall and understanding. However there needs to be a conscious effort to retrieve this information. There are many more excellent research based articles in the Journal, including Carol Dweck ‘Challenging the myths of mindset’, that deserve consideration by educators.
Sara Fletcher
OTSA Director for Research and Development

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