Teachers’ engagement with research: what do we know? A research briefing

Matt Walker, Julie Nelson, and Sally Bradshaw (NFER) with Chris Brown (University of Portsmouth)

13 May 2019

Research report on the EEF website

There is growing recognition of the potential of evidence-informed practice in schools to transform teaching and learning and there have been a number of practical infrastructure developments over recent years, which aim to bridge the gap between research and practice. While these developments are resulting in some promising practice change, our new research briefing, published on the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) website, suggests that there is still some way to go to achieve evidence-informed practice across the teaching profession in England.

The briefing is based on findings from a nationally representative survey of 1,670 teachers and senior leaders in England, undertaken between September and November 2017. The survey is built on a previous survey that NFER developed with EEF in 2014 and published in 2017. The new findings re-enforce those from the 2014 survey. Specifically, we found that:

  • research evidence still has only a small influence on teachers’ decision-making relative to other sources
  • teachers were most likely to draw on their own expertise, or that of their colleagues, when making decisions about teaching and learning or whole-school change.

Teachers were, on average, willing to engage with research evidence, and reported that their school climates were supportive of evidence use. However, it appears that this willingness, and those positive climates, were not yet consistently translating into evidence-informed decision-making across schools in England.