Two recent research reports reinforced a strong recommendation of the Practice-based Research Encompassing Professional Development Project (March 2012) conducted by Glenn, McDonagh, Sullivan and Roche of www.eari.ie. These papers were presented at the Research Alive Conference 11th May 2013 which was hosted by The Centre for Effective Services (CES), National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the Teaching Council.
The authors of Practice-based Research Encompassing Professional Development Project Report (2012) recommend ‘that teachers participating in Continuing Professional Development programmes like ours would be provided with access to relevant and up-to-date research.’ During the Practice-based Research Project (2012) the authors became aware of the difficulties teachers have in accessing professional literatures. The authors also found this problematic. They subscribe to associations like ESAI and AERA, BERA etc at considerable personal expense to get access to journals. Hence they recommend that some thought is given by the Teaching Council and DES to providing teachers with access to education research literatures.
In the first report, Morgan (May 2013) presented the results of a national survey of 4,000 teachers on how they make use of research. Among other questions, the survey asked about ease of understanding and the sourcing of various forms of educational research – research reviews, research based on statistics, qualitative research, consultation with groups and practitioner research. The findings show, in all cases, teachers found it more difficult to access research than to understand it.
In the second paper Carina Carey and Michael Lawlor spoke on the work of The Academic Council of Davis College, Mallow, Co Cork. They sought best research to inform evidence based practice in their school. Recognising the difficulties teachers have in accessing such research, they set up a school Research Repository. They perceive that such a repository is a rich resource for both policy development and individual professional development. It contains links to national and international databases and selected articles specific to their school interests.They cited Practice-based Research Encompassing Professional Development Project (March 2012) as part of their rationale for setting up this useful resource.
The Research Alive Conference (May 2013) aimed to ‘include ideas and support for teachers on how to access research on education; for researchers and policymakers on how to make research findings more accessible; and, for a broad audience on what research matters and makes a difference in teaching and learning.’ The two presentations cited above make it clear that research on education is generally understood by teachers and that teachers know what types of research make a difference to how they teach and to how their pupils learn.
It is still regrettable that one conference aim had not been fulfilled – that teachers will have been provided with access to education research literatures. Hopefully this will be addressed in the near future.
Carey, C. and Lawlor, M. (2013) ;The Academic Council of Davis College’ A presentation to Research Alive, Conference on Educational Research and Teachers. Dublin: 11 May 2013 available on http://ncca.ie/en/Conference/Research-Alive.html. .
Glenn, M., McDonagh, C., Sullivan, B and Roche, M. with Morgan, M (2012) Practice-based Research Encompassing Professional Development Project, Revised Final Report: Teaching Council available on http://www.teachingcouncil.ie/research/commissioned-research..
Morgan, M. (2013) ‘How teachers make use of research: Results of a na4onal survey’. A presentation to Research Alive, Conference on Educational Research and Teachers. Dublin: 11 May 2013 available on http://ncca.ie/en/Conference/Research-Alive.html ,