A Guide to Practitioner Research in Education

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Ian Menter, Dely Elliot, Moira Hulme, Jon Lewin & Kevin Lowden

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    About the Authors

    The team of authors are all within the School of Education at the University of Glasgow and have significant experience of working with practitioner researchers in education. Two of the team (Hulme and Menter) are based within the Pedagogy, Policy and Practice group in the School and the others (Elliot, Lewin and Lowden) are or were located within the SCRE Centre. The SCRE Centre was formed in 2001 following a merger between the Scottish Council for Research in Education and the University of Glasgow Faculty of Education. The SCRE team have a long and distinguished track record in supporting teacher researchers in Scotland. The authors worked together on a major national action research project funded by The Scottish Government over 3–4 years, entitled Research to Support Schools of Ambition. Their other relevant experiences are indicated in the individual thumbnail sketches below.

    Dely Lazarte Elliot

    Dely is one of the researchers at the SCRE Centre, School of Education, University of Glasgow. She is part of the MSc Psychological Studies team, lecturing in Educational Psychology and supervising postgraduate students at both Master's and PhD levels. Dely's first degree was from the University of Santo Tomas (Manila). She started her career in Thailand as a kindergarten and primary teacher, subsequently lecturing and doing an MSc at Assumption University (Bangkok) before pursuing a PhD at the University of Nottingham. Dely has been involved in a number of research projects at both national and international levels and has had considerable experience delivering research methods workshops to school and college practitioners and mentoring them as they undertake small-scale and/or action research (e.g. Focus on Learning, Schools of Ambition).

    Moira Hulme

    Moira is a lecturer in Educational Research at the University of Glasgow. She was Project Coordinator of Research to Support Schools of Ambition (2006–10). This post builds on previous experience as a lecturer and teacher educator supporting pre- and in-service teachers-as-researchers at universities in England and Scotland. She has authored a number of publications in the area of teacher education and development and currently leads a range of Practitioner Enquiry and Decision Making courses at the University of Glasgow, where she is co-Director of the Chartered Teacher programme.

    Jon Lewin

    Jon is the Information Officer in the Research Office at the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow. He has worked in the area of information provision and dissemination for about 15 years, and has a particular interest in the use of new and traditional technologies to increase participation in, and disseminate, research to a range of audiences. His work at SCRE includes the development and maintenance of databases, and the design of and support for a number of web-based initiatives to promote participation in SCRE research. He is also involved in design and editorial support of all SCRE's published output, including the SCRE website, research reports and briefing papers for practitioners. He has a particular interest in information design and its impact on the communicability of research findings. In addition, he provides a wide range of information services for the research staff of SCRE, and handles information enquiries from the public and the media relating to all aspects of educational research.

    Kevin Lowden

    Kevin is currently a Research Fellow at the SCRE Centre at the School of Education, University of Glasgow. Since joining SCRE in 1987, he has been involved with and led a wide range of national and international research and evaluation projects. While the focus of the research has varied over time to include: lifelong learning and skills; health education; promoting opportunities for disadvantaged groups and school transformation, a common aim has been to produce findings that inform policy and practice in education. Most recently he has worked with other colleagues in the School of Education to research and support major school transformation initiatives (e.g. the Scottish Government's Schools of Ambition programme and the Hunter Foundation's 2020 programme). These projects included supporting practitioners to develop their professional skills in research and evaluation and enhancing the capacity of their schools to self-evaluate. His chapters in this book reflect this wealth of research and mentoring experience.

    Ian Menter

    Ian is Professor of Teacher Education and formerly Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Education, University of Glasgow. He worked as a primary school teacher in Bristol for nine years before entering higher education, holding posts at the University of Gloucestershire, the University of the West of England, London Metropolitan University (Head of the School of Education) and the University of the West of Scotland (Dean of the Faculty of Education and Media). He has been President of the Scottish Educational Research Association and an elected member of the Executive Council of the British Educational Research Association, is a Special Professor at the University of Nottingham and an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences.

    Foreword

    Teachers, lecturers and a range of other education practitioners are increasingly being encouraged to develop their professionalism through adopting an enquiring approach to their work. For example, newly qualified teachers in England are now getting the opportunity to study for a Master's in Teaching and Learning (MTL). Experienced teachers in Scotland can now follow a programme to become a Chartered Teacher and a similar scheme has been piloted in Wales. Students who are studying to become schoolteachers or lecturers are increasingly being given the opportunity to undertake small-scale research as part of their programmes of study.

    This book has been written in order to provide a straightforward introduction to practitioner research that may be of value both to experienced teachers and to students in training as they begin to engage with enquiry into their own practice. The approach taken in this book was based on a series of short texts that were produced by the former Scottish Council for Research in Education (SCRE). These texts each focused on one particular aspect of small-scale research, such as questionnaires, literature review or interviews. The purpose of the present book is to bring together in a single and accessible volume a wider range of up-to-date advice for practitioner researchers.

    The emphasis throughout has been on keeping the approach simple and manageable for practitioners who are new to research and are working or studying full-time. We have sought to be rigorous however and to ensure that we are encouraging high-quality research work. Where you may wish to go further with more ambitious techniques or concepts we have sought to provide guidance on where you may look.

    The book has been written by a large team and while we each took the lead in different sections or on different aspects of the book, we have all shared the fundamental commitment to providing clear and focused advice for our readers. We have been greatly assisted in this by our two colleagues, John Hall and Stuart Hall, who played a significant part in laying down the original plans for the book and whose ideas have fed into our writing.

    The writing team is based in the School of Education at the University of Glasgow and includes colleagues who have worked in the former SCRE – now the SCRE Centre – which had a long tradition of supporting teacher research across Scotland. In the recent past the team members have all collaborated on supporting teacher research, especially in a project entitled ‘Research to Support Schools of Ambition’. At the time of completing this book, this project has recently come to a close. We have drawn heavily on the experience of that work and would like to thank all of the headteachers, teachers, students and others who have contributed to it as well as those with whom we have worked on a range of other similar projects over many years.

    We also wish to thank Helen Fairlie, formerly of SAGE, our publishers, whose initial encouragement led to the development of this book. Finally, thanks to Marianne Lagrange and Monira Begum at SAGE for their patient and enthusiastic support as we have struggled (not always successfully!) to meet deadlines.

    IanMenter, DelyElliot, MoiraHulme, JonLewin and KevinLowden, University of Glasgow

    Acknowledgements

    Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) (2000) Best Practice Research Scholarships: Guidance Notes for Teacher Applications. Nottingham: DfES Publications.

    Baumfield, V. (2009) ‘Practitioner inquiry: evaluating learning and teaching?’ Paper presented at the Professional Practice Lecture Series, 6th August, Glasgow.

    Figure 6.4: EndNote ® © 2010, Thomson Reuters.

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