Evidence that counts: what happens when teachers apply scientific methods to their practice

Tony McAleavy
Richard Churches

As the debate about the nature and generation of education evidence becomes centre stage globally this report leads the way. Twelve teacher-led randomised controlled trials and other styles of experimental research demonstrate the potential of serving teachers to carry out research that applies scientific method with rigour. The teachers planned, conducted, analysed and wrote up their research, which they have presented in a conference poster format.

This publication contains 12 reports of teacher experimental research. It demonstrates that schools can carry out rigorous local investigations which can be replicated by others or scaled up to achieve larger sample sizes.

Education research receives a tiny fraction of the funding available for medical research. Alongside this, most publicly-funded education research initially appears in journals that teachers cannot access. It is also the case that very little repetition in education research takes place to check whether the findings replicate. This picture is compounded by the fact that pedagogy in non-core subjects has been subject to very little rigorous research, with much education research being context-specific and not easily able to be generalised or transferred.

The reports in this publication demonstrate the potential of practising teachers to carry out research which applies a scientific method, both in terms of the generation of school-based local and contextual evidence and with regard to the development of a research-engaged, research-informed and research-led teaching profession. They also illustrate how poster-style reporting can offer an engaging and immediate way of understanding a piece of education research of this type, how the research was conducted and its implications for other teachers.

The style of presentation of the reports in this publication parallels the type of preliminary reporting common at academic conferences and postgraduate events. At the same time, it aims to act as a form of short primer to introduce teachers to the basic options that there are when conducting this type of research.