The evidence-based revolution in teaching & learning is in full-swing. Visit pretty much any school in the country and you will be sure to find at the very least one member of staff thinking about how to weave areas such as Retrieval Practice, Spacing, Interleaving, cognitive science, Metacognition and Rosenshine’s Principles into their practice.
But is that enough to make the biggest impact on student learning? We often get asked what schools can do to help encourage their staff to become more research-engaged which, unfortunately, can be a real challenge. If only it was as easy as simply telling them the findings or giving them the research papers to read. The reality is that it is never that simple, especially with time and cost often being significant barriers.
You don’t have to become a research methods expert
Let’s start with the obvious: research looks daunting. But you don’t need to become an expert to find useful things in research.
So, don’t worry if you don’t know your Bayesian Analysis from your Double-Blind design. As research is only ever intended to inform your judgement, not replace it, you don’t need to be a leading expert in research methods to utilise the findings. Understanding the broad principles and general guidelines is good enough (especially at the start). To help your staff master the basics, we’ve written this beginner’s guide to understanding cognitive science research.
Our favourite teaching & learning resources (and where to find them)
There have never been more education resources to pull from, and they have never been easier to access. Here are some of our favourite places to find them…
With brilliant publishers such as Routledge, Crown House, John Catt and Bloomsbury supporting practitioners who want to write about becoming evidence-based, there is a wealth of options to choose from.
Creating a staff library gives your staff choice and opportunity, without feeling too prescriptive. We’ve seen some amazing staff CPD libraries in the schools we have visited. Don’t know where to start? Here are some of the books that we would recommend:
- The Science of Learning, by Bradley Busch & Edward Watson (obviously)
- What Every Teacher Needs to Know, by Jade Pearce
- How Learning Happens, by Paul A. Kirschner & Carl Hendrick
- Why Don’t Students Like School?, by Daniel T. Willingham
- Rosenshine’s Principles in Action, by Tom Sherrington
- The Feedback Pendulum, by Michael Chiles
- Retrieval Practice 2, by Kate Jones
- The Boy Question, by Mark Roberts
- Strengthening The Student Toolbox, by Amarbeer Singh Gill
Newsletters and blogs
For those with limited time to engage with research, blogs and newsletters are a great way to get familiar with the most important findings. There are several free newsletters that regularly summarise seminal research papers in a very accessible format. These often have the advantage of including links to the original research, as well as related posts.
Ones that we subscribe to, have enjoyed reading and would recommend are:
- Our newsletter and our blogs (obviously)
- Johnathan Firth’s Memory and Metacognition Update
- Mary Myatt’s resources
- Blake Harvard’s website
- Sarah Cottingham’s website
- Tom Sherrington’s resources
- Jo Castellino’s blog
- Rachel Ball’s blog
- Adam Boxer’s website
- The Learning Scientists' website
- Paul A. Kirschner's blog
Engage on Twitter
For the many ills of social media (and there are many!), it can be a treasure trove for CPD if you use it well. Organisations that regularly post evidence-based content (again, for free) include:
As well as this, there are also so many active researchers and classroom practitioners, including the people whose blogs and newsletters we recommended.
We are yet to meet a researcher who hasn’t been willing (and often, eager) to discuss their research and answer any questions. They are just waiting for someone to reach out to them.
Likewise, the number of amazing self-reflective classroom teachers/SLT members who are discussing their experience means Twitter can be a rich source of free CPD.
Over the last few years, there have been an increase in embracing twilight webinars as a means of getting CPD. These are often a very cost-effective way of learning more of a particular area. Even better – more and more practitioners are sharing their knowledge for free.
Some upcoming ones to get the ball rolling include:
- Our Teaching & Learning Spotlight webinar (only a few tickets still available) and our workshops taster for international schools (obviously)
- Seneca's free on-demand CPD courses
There are many very good education podcasts to choose from at the moment. Some of our favourites include:
- Becoming Educated
- Mind The Gap: Making education work across the globe
- Filling the Pail
Teaching & learning groups
We have heard of a number of schools setting up voluntary teaching & learning groups to supplement ongoing whole-staff INSET CPD. These can be short in length and just create an opportunity to discuss what good practice looks like and what research suggests might be guiding principles.
These often create a close-knit community feel where staff feel comfortable sharing their ideas and thoughts, providing the platform for them to experiment in applying teaching & learning evidence.
Staying up to date and on top of the latest research can be difficult. It can be time consuming and often frustrating (as many of the research papers are behind paywalls). Hopefully the above gives some good food for thought as to where to start and how to help your colleagues and peers on their evidence-informed journey.
Want to get a deeper dive into some of the most important research in education? We’ve teamed up with Jade Pearce to bring you the Teaching & Learning Spotlight, a quarterly magazine + webinar combo looking into 10 important studies. To celebrate the launch, the first edition is free – book your ticket and get your copy here.