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Practice and research in education: How can we make both better, and better aligned? Robert ResearchED 2013, Dulwich College, 7 Sept 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Practice and research in education: How can we make both better, and better aligned? Robert ResearchED 2013, Dulwich College, 7 Sept 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Practice and research in education: How can we make both better, and better aligned? Robert ResearchED 2013, Dulwich College, 7 Sept 2013

2 Improving practice and research Problems with research and evidence Can research tell us what works? How can practice be improved? –Think hard about learning –Invest in good CPD –Evaluate teaching quality –Evaluate impact of changes 2 Improving Education: A triumph of hope over experience

3 Problems with research and evidence 3

4 Problems with evidence Evidence can be found to support any position in education Ofsted asks schools to produce evidence to demonstrate that PP spending has narrowed the gap (even though some of it may not have) DfE misunderstands/misuses evidence (relative gaps as percentage difference; small changes with small samples) 4

5 Problems with research Quality varies, but a lot is not very good Quality really matters How do you know who or what to trust? Academic papers are inaccessible Academic debates are (mostly) pointless Peer review doesnt work 5

6 Small positives Impact agenda requires public benefit EEF: funding for high quality evaluation Recurrent policy interest in Evidence-Based Education (see based-education/introduction)http://www.cem.org/evidence- based-education/introduction Social media & internet gives instant critique, debate, interaction 6

7 Evidence about the effectiveness of different strategies 7

8 Toolkit of Strategies to Improve Learning The Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit

9 Impact vs cost Cost per pupil Effect Size (months gain) £0 0 8 £1000 Meta-cognitive Peer tutoring Early Years 1-1 tuition Homework (Secondary) Mentoring Summer schools After school Aspirations Performance pay Teaching assistants Smaller classes Ability grouping Promising May be worth it Not worth it Feedback Phonics Homework (Primary) Collaborative Small gp tuition Parental involvement Individualised learning ICT Behaviour Social

10 Some things that are popular or widely thought to be effective probably cant improve learning –Ability grouping (setting); After-school clubs; Teaching assistants; Smaller classes; Performance pay; Raising aspirations Some things look promising –Effective feedback; Meta-­cognitive and self regulation strategies; Peer tutoring/peer assisted learning strategies; Homework Key messages

11 Clear, simple advice: Choose from the top left Go back to school and do it 11 For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong H.L. Mencken

12 Why not? We have been doing some of these things for a long time, but have generally not seen improvement Research evidence is problematic –Sometimes the existing evidence is thin –Research studies may not reflect real life –Context and support factors may matter Implementation is problematic –We may think we are doing it, but are we doing it right? –We do not know how to get large groups of teachers and schools to implement these interventions in ways that are faithful, effective and sustainable 12

13 So how might practice be improved? 13

14 Four steps to improvement Think hard about learning Invest in good professional development Evaluate teaching quality Evaluate impact of changes

15 1. Think hard about learning

16 Impact vs cost Cost per pupil Effect Size (months gain) £0 0 8 £1000 Meta-cognitive Peer tutoring Early Years 1-1 tuition Homework (Secondary) Mentoring Summer schools After school Aspirations Performance pay Teaching assistants Smaller classes Ability grouping Promising May be worth it Not worth it Feedback Phonics Homework (Primary) Collaborative Small gp tuition Parental involvement Individualised learning ICT Behaviour Social

17 Poor Proxies for Learning Students are busy: lots of work is done (especially written work) Students are engaged, interested, motivated Students are getting attention: feedback, explanations Classroom is ordered, calm, under control Curriculum has been covered (ie presented to students in some form) (At least some) students have supplied correct answers (whether or not they really understood them or could reproduce them independently) 17

18 Learning happens when people have to think hard A simple theory of learning

19 2. Invest in effective CPD

20 How do we get students to learn hard things? Eg Place value Persuasive writing Music composition Balancing chemical equations Explain what they should do Demonstrate it Get them to do it (with gradually reducing support) Provide feedback Get them to practise until it is secure Assess their skill/ understanding

21 How do we get teachers to learn hard things? Eg Using formative assessment Assertive discipline How to teach algebra Explain what they should do

22 Intense: at least 15 contact hours, preferably 50 Sustained: over at least two terms Content focused: on teachers knowledge of subject content & how students learn it Active: opportunities to try it out & discuss Supported: external feedback and networks to improve and sustain Evidence based: promotes strategies supported by robust evaluation evidence What CPD helps learners?

23 3. Evaluate teaching quality

24 Classroom observation: The new Brain Gym? Validity evidence –Are observation ratings really a reflection of teaching quality? Impact evaluation –Does the process of observation and feedback lead to improvement? –In what, how much and for what cost? 24

25 Validity evidence Do observation ratings correspond with other indicators of teaching quality or effectiveness? –Student learning gains –Student ratings –Peer (teacher) perceptions –Self ratings Are they consistent? –Across occasions –Across raters Are ratings influenced by spurious confounds –Charisma –Confidence –Subject matter –Students behaviour –Time of day 25

26 Does observation improve teaching? Need studies with –Clearly defined intervention –High quality outcome measures (student learning) –Good control of counterfactual (eg RCT) –Adequate sample –Measures of sustained impact Just one would be nice … 26

27 4. Evaluateimpact of changes

28 1.Wait for a bad year or choose underperforming schools to start with. Most things self-correct or revert to expectations (you can claim the credit for this). 2.Take on any initiative, and ask everyone who put effort into it whether they feel it worked. No-one wants to feel their effort was wasted. 3.Define improvement in terms of perceptions and ratings of teachers. DO NOT conduct any proper assessments – they may disappoint. 4.Only study schools or teachers that recognise a problem and are prepared to take on an initiative. Theyll probably improve whatever you do. Mistaking School Improvement (1) (Coe, 2009)

29 5.Conduct some kind of evaluation, but dont let the design be too good – poor quality evaluations are much more likely to show positive results. 6.If any improvement occurs in any aspect of performance, focus attention on that rather than on any areas or schools that have not improved or got worse (dont mention them!). 7.Put some effort into marketing and presentation of the school. Once you start to recruit better students, things will improve. Mistaking School Improvement (2) (Coe, 2009)

30 Clear, well defined, replicable intervention Good assessment of appropriate outcomes Well-matched comparison group EEF DIY Evaluation Guide Key elements of good evaluation

31 Summary … A lot of educational research is rubbish, but some is very good: relevant and rigorous Four steps to improve practice: –Think hard about learning –Invest in good CPD –Evaluate teaching quality (but not with dodgy observation) –Evaluate impact of changes


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