Teachers’ Use of Research Evidence: A Case Study of United Learning Schools
01 July 2014
This research investigates the uses and perceived impact of engaging with research on teaching and learning. The project was carried out by NFER in partnership with United Learning.
The work contributes to the growing debate around evidence informed teaching practice. There is a widespread belief that significant improvements in educational outcomes could be made if teachers engage with the best evidence of ‘what works’ and develop their practice accordingly. Our joint research sought to gain a clearer picture of what current ‘evidence-informed practice’ (EIP) looks like, the perceived benefits of engagement, and how to develop a culture of EIP.
We conducted 17 telephone interviews with United Learning senior leaders and 39 face-to-face interviews within seven United Learning case-study schools.
- Overall, engaging in research evidence was perceived to encourage practitioner reflection and open-mindedness. Teachers’ openness to engaging with research and adopting different pedagogical approaches was considered to make lessons more engaging for learners.
- Interviewees believed that teachers benefit from evidence through its use to inform professional development and through the confidence acquired from implementing new approaches.
- SLT members explained the benefits of using research evidence to drive school improvement initiatives; to substantiate the reasons behind change; and to underpin staff professional development. Additionally, creating the right environment to nurture a culture of EIP was considered critical.
- Creating the time and space to engage in evidence, and making it easy for teachers to engage with evidence (by for example having support from external experts) were also viewed as important.