#5MinResearchPlan by @TeacherToolkit and @LeadingLearner

The nature of Continuing Professional Development is changing in schools; from the one day course chosen from a booklet or website, to teachers engaging in their own action-research. This research may be undertaken as part of the National Professional Qualification for Senior/Middle Leader, or as part of an extended leadership programme – for example, the SSAT Aspiring Senior Leaders Programme – or the more traditional Masters qualification.

Getting Started

Photo Credit: CCAC North Library via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: CCAC North Library via Compfight cc

The #5MinCPDPlan has been developed by @TeacherToolkit and @LeadingLearner to help teachers organise and maximise the impact of their work.  We are both grateful to David Weston and Bridget Clay of the Teacher Development Trust for offering critique; but were not involved in the development of the idea and it is not exactly the model The Teacher Development Trust would use.

The Trust is a charity that is dedicated to improving the educational outcomes for children by raising the quality of teacher professional development. Its work, through the National Teacher Enquiry Network is doing some fascinating work around the country. If you are serious about the professional development of teachers you, should apply to become a member of the network here.

The #5MinResearchPlan:

#5MinResearchPlan - click to view
#5MinResearchPlan – click to view

Copies of the #5MinResearchPlan are available to download here:

#5MinResearchPlan Downloadable Version (PPt)

#5MinResearchPlan Downlodable Version (PDF)

Issue or concern?

It’s quite interesting to think of our normal approach to the professional development of staff.  We too often start with some “good practice” to share, before we have decided what the problem is or, which particular teachers or students should be involved. The #5MinResearchPlan tips this thinking on its head.  You are (in essence) working towards developing a “Final Research Question” that you can investigate.  There are two ways to think about the issue or concern:

What is going quite well that I would like to go even better?

“The quality of feedback I give students is pretty good but it is still not having the impact I want.”

 “The value added for CLA/FSM students in RAISE is in line with expectation but what could we do to make it sig+?”

What is really a problem and needs to improve?

“The behaviour in my classes is a real problem, students just aren’t learning.”

 “The Best 8 (Capped Average Point Score) for High Ability Student by Prior Attainment is sig- (blue) in RAISE.  We have to do something about this.”

Target cohort:

It is very important to narrow down the research focus to a target cohort. Remember, this is a small-scale piece of research often class room based, though for some leadership qualifications it can be across a department or whole school. Think about the following concern:

“The behaviour in my classes is a real problem, students just aren’t learning.”

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

It is important to narrow this down, as it is unlikely to be all classes and all students.

What all classes?

Well, actually it’s really the Year 9 classes.

What, all students in Year 9 classes?

No, it seems to be a group of boys in my Year 9 middle-ability class.

You have started the important process of narrowing down the research focus to a small manageable cohort that you are particularly interested in.

Intervention period:

There is no hard or fast rule for the period the intervention will run for. Typically projects, including for some involving external accreditation, run for between six to twelve months. This includes the initial research, implementation of a particular programme and writing up the findings. A good rule of thumb is to think about allocating times in thirds. So, for a six month programme, there would be two months for initial research, two months for implementation and two months for writing up.

Research:

This can be one of the really interesting and fun elements of the programme. What different ideas can you find about possible ways to impact on the particular issue or concern you want to address? Keep a note of the key ideas that are of interest to you.

Photo Credit: Coursa via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Coursa via Compfight cc

The research can be from the academic – research books and papers; alternatively it could be from a course or INSET day, blogs or other schools or simply ideas from and discussions with colleagues about what they are doing. As you intend to disseminate the research, it is important to keep a note of the different sources you have got the ideas from and reference them in your final write-up.

A good tool for referencing sources is Neil’s Toolbox: Harvard Style Reference Generator.

Having completed your research, it is important to narrow down all the options to a chosen intervention.  It may be you have a number of different interventions that you are interested in and quite excited about.  It is important to be disciplined. Just implement one at a time and see the impact before looking at another one.

Final research questions:

 This is an important moment in the whole plan – a poorly expressed research question or one lacking focus will produce problems further down the line.  Try using the following template to help you devise your final research question:

I / We intend to implement <chosen intervention> with <chosen pupil cohort, subject & topic> to investigate whether it has <add impact you hope to achieve> because <state your reasons>.

 For example:

“I intend to implement a flipped class room approach to the teaching of Kinetic Theory in my middle ability Y8 8 Science class to investigate whether it leads to higher levels as students tend to be able to describe particle movement but show little understanding of it.”   

Research process:

Photo Credit: artolog via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: artolog via Compfight cc

You need to think through and make a note of the main methodology you are going to use in your research. The following will have an impact on your research process:

  • Is the intervention classroom based or outside of normal lesson time?
  • Will you be the sole person involved in the research project or is it a collaborative approach in terms of planning, implementing and evaluating?
  • What measures are you using?

Measures:

This can be one of the most difficult parts of the research plan for teachers. Sometimes people set off without a clear idea of what they want to measure or how it could be measured. Instead of an interesting piece of research, you’ll end up with a nice little anecdote that lacks the depth required.

Think about whether your measures are going to be quantitative (numbers based) or more qualitative (descriptions or discussions). It’s common to measure both, but you must ensure that your measures are reasonable and manageable, alongside the other work you have to do. Remember to get a baseline measure before you start the intervention.

Photo Credit: angela larose via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: angela larose via Compfight cc

Some examples of quantitative measures are tests and examinations (don’t be afraid to use the same one as the baseline and final assessment), tally charts recording behaviours or incidents you want to measure (e.g. shouting out in class) or surveys (for example student voice responses to particular questions).

More qualitative measures would involve direct observations by a colleague, just describing what s/he saw in a particular lesson or interviews with students. Care needs to be taken, to ensure there is a particular area, or set of areas you want a colleague to focus on.  The same is true when devising questions to use when interviewing students. These records can be very useful in identifying reoccurring themes or responses, which will help you determine whether the chosen intervention is having an impact.

Photo Credit: UBC Library via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: UBC Library via Compfight cc

The final thing to think about is whether you will include a control group in your analysis.  This is considered good practice in research. The control group will have all the same measures taken but there will be no intervention with this group.  This can sometimes cause a bit of a “moral dilemma” for teachers as they feel they are denying one group a potentially positive experience that another group is having.  Another way to think about this, is that until you are sure that your chosen intervention does have a positive impact, it would be too risky to involve a higher number of students. If the chosen intervention does have a positive impact, then it will be shared and spread wide, so all students may benefit from it.

Analysis:

One form of quantitative measure, is using effect size which is often used by researchers.

Atherton J S (2013) Learning and Teaching; What works best [On-line: UK] retrieved 21 November 2013 from http://www.learningandteaching.info/teaching/what_works.htm
Atherton J S (2013) Learning and Teaching; What works best [On-line: UK] retrieved 21 November 2013 from http://www.learningandteaching.info/teaching/what_works.htm
An average effect size is 0.4 and so researchers are often looking for 0.4 or higher when measuring the impact of a particular intervention.  Below is an example of measuring effect size.  It was completed as part of an INSET Day when working with a whole staff on Outstanding Teaching & Learning.  All teachers completed a simple on-line multiple-choice test, consisting of ten Spanish language questions.  With the help resources from the Head of Modern Foreign Languages, we taught a thirty-minute Spanish lesson, having analysed where the most common mistakes where. The staff then re-sat the on-line test.

Spanish Test – Effect Size
Spanish Test – Effect Size

The initial test and final test results are simply entered for each student, or the results from students in the control class and intervention class.  The spreadsheet has been set up to calculate the effect size.  A copy of the spreadsheet can be downloaded below:

Download here: Calculating Effect-size

Research process:

You need to think through and make a note of the main methodology you are going to use in your research. The following will have an impact on your research process:

Is the intervention classroom based or outside of normal lesson time?

Will you be the sole person involved in the research project, or is it a collaborative approach in terms of planning, implementing and evaluating?

What measures are you using?

Dissemination:

Increasingly the action research work completed by teachers in the classroom will form part of the wide body of evidence that will influence what happens in schools. With the proliferation of blogging – a trend that is likely to continue – it is possible for teachers to make their work available to an international audience. A number of schools are sharing teacher-led research through in-house magazines, TeachMeets or market places, as well as staff or departmental meetings.  Don’t underestimate the interest from colleagues in the work you have done, and also in the process you went through to gather your finding.  It is important for you to consider the best way to disseminate your work and include this within the #5MinResearchPlan.

We hope to have a number of examples of the #5MinResearchPlan. Please share your own examples with us.

Examples:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To view each example, click here; here and here.

If you are responsible for organising professional development within your school or institution you may want to also use The #5MinCPDPlan by @TeacherToolkit and @LeadingLearner.

 Download:

#5MinResearchPlan Downlodable Version: (PDF)

#5MinResearchPlan
#5MinResearchPlan

 The #5MinResearchPlan by Ross Morrison McGill and Stephen Tierney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on all work published at www.TeacherToolkit.me and www.LeadingLearner.me

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Creative Commons.

 

@TeacherToolkit

Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, a simple Twitter account which rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on Twitter in the UK'. He is an award winning teacher and an experienced school leader and as @TeacherToolkit, curated this website you are now reading as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in the Britain' by The Sunday Times and one of the most influential in the field of education. He is the only classroom teacher to feature. He is a former Teaching Award nominee for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School in London' and has also written 3 books on teaching. Read more here.

7 thoughts on “#5MinResearchPlan by @TeacherToolkit and @LeadingLearner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.