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Dr Barbara Spears Dr Susanne Owen Sarah Quinn

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  1. Supporting practitioner research through initial training and provision of academic critical friends Dr Barbara Spears Dr Susanne Owen Sarah Quinn Presented at the Innovative schooling and practitioner researcher-academic partnerships: Opportunities, challenges and learnings Symposium, Chair: Susanne Owen: AARE conference, Adelaide: Hilton Hotel, Dec 1-5th

  2. 1: Outline

  3. Background: The Issue Increasing concern: Traditional schooling methods are inadequate for preparing students for C21st contexts Learning commons New Languages of educational innovations re: physical space; teacher role; & curriculum approaches Fertile questions Inquiry-based learning Teacher engagers Campfires Interdisciplinary curriculum How do we find out what happens re student learning?

  4. Background: Innovations DECD is an invited system in the OECD* Innovative Learning Environment project 7 sites/programs initially met The International criteria among 150 schools in 26 countries 25 SA Public schools now recognised within DECD innovation Community of Practice OECD innovation framework : Importance of evidence about academic, social and emotional innovations *Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

  5. Background: An Approach To support significantly innovative schools in the data gathering processes Designed to highlight the nature &impact of current innovative practices In Partnership with UNISA Small Practitioner-Researcher Grants provided during 2012 Support initial research training Provide academic critical friends to assist at significant points

  6. Background: Aims of Research Grants To: Build research knowledge and skills through collaborative practices and learning Share outcomes and outputs of PLR regarding innovation Encourage and support practitioner-led research (PLR) into innovation aspects currently underway Foster partnerships for high quality research

  7. Background: Process Over 10 months Application Research training Finalise Proposal Liaise with UniSA partner Progress report Presentations Final report Flexible Format Http://www.innovations.sa.edu.au/default.asp?id=40511&navgrp=1118

  8. 2: Collaboration The Research Proposal The Training Day 30 participants from 13 schools and preschools Working with academics + Follow-up support Developing the research proposal What is Research? Research paradigms & processes Guidance & Support Focus on problem and the methods 90 minute Plenary by 2 Academics

  9. 3: Academic Partnerships Critical Friend Advocates for the success of that work “Takes time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward” “A trusted person who asks provocative questions; Provides data to be examined through another lens And offers a critique of a person’s work ‘as a friend” Costa, A & Kallick, B, 1993, Through the Lens of a Critical Friend. Educational Leadership

  10. Academic Partnerships Critical Friends Strategic role Important for assisting improvement Simultaneous roles of support and challenge Less formal than mentoring or coaching A professional relationship based on mutual regard and the willingness to question and challenge NCSL, 2005: Meeting the Challenge: Growing Tomorrow’s School Leaders

  11. 4: Training: What is Research? • If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research…..A. Einstein • Involves: • Posing a question • Collecting data to address the question • Presenting a response (answer) to the question A process or set of steps involving collecting and analysing information to increase understanding of a topic or issue. “ A careful, systematic, patient investigation undertaken to discover or establish facts and relationships.” (Mertler & Charles, 2005, p. 6) • Research begins with a problem…

  12. Exploration of Basics What is the problem in my context Experimental Random Control Variables Action Research Quantitative Qualitative What is my question? Characteristics of a good topic What am I proposing to do? What are my aims? • Interesting • Researchable • Of Practical Significance • Manageable My Three Keywords: Descriptors

  13. Focus on Action Research Positioning teachers as reflective learners • Applying the scientific method to real life problems in their own environment

  14. 4: Development of the Proposals Qual/quant Context of the issue Local, National Methodology: design Method: Who, What, How, When, Where: Why do it this way? The Problem to be Researched Research Aims Transcripts Content Analysis Text Analysis Statistical Inferential Descriptive Literature Review Research Question Informed consent

  15. Examples of Proposal Topics the effectiveness of a mentor program in developing enhanced technology skills and enabling 21st century pedagogies to be developed among teaching teams learning spaces impact on learner engagement and wellbeing and the importance of Learning Advisors’ beliefs autonomous learning and interventions required with students and teachers; the relationship between pedagogy, engagement and literacy learning opportunities arising from the use of digital gaming technologies; the impact of personalised learning on staff wellbeing and student engagement

  16. Evaluation Questions & Method To what extent did practitioner research grants: Encourage and support practitioners in their innovations & research, Build research knowledge Foster partnerships, and Share outcomes about innovation. What are the benefits and challenges of practitioner research? • Method: • Progress & final research reports examination • Surveys following initial training :usefulness and early support; value of an academic support person • Research completion surveys • Principal discussions

  17. 5: Findings Research Training 90-100% indicated satisfaction with individual support with the proposal it gave me a totally new perspective on research techniques’ reviewed our understanding of the various research processes. gave us time to work as a team to determine which research mode would suit our project best’ as a novice to research, i am returning to school with new directions and possibilities, with a clear and powerful framework with which to work’ excellent start. feel like my hand is being held and i’m on my way’. i really enjoyed this session and having ..(academic leader for initial training session and department coordinator) professional guidance to help us ‘nut out’ our action research project. very informative & enjoyable—we are excited, rather than daunted, about this research.

  18. Grant & Critical Friend ‘Enabled in depth exploration of the relationship between wellbeing, engagement and the environment’ This grant provided time to put aside the busyness of working in a school to concentrate on something that we recognised as having importance to our community. Time to cycle through a process of reflect, focus, talk, plan’, Working in collaboration with an academic researcher. Published paper and presentation to staff as an outcome- making sense of what I do at school on a daily basis as an innovative technologies teacher’ Great model to use in future for us as a school, high class research support for our innovation, funding was flexible and enabled us to do important work for our students’ Credibility to our task – Mentor support – keeping us on task and time due to our commitment to the research grant’

  19. Grant & Critical Friend ‘This session helped us to stop, focus, learn from others and consider the context of our inquiry. We did some reshaping of our inquiry focus after this session, for example, we tightened up some of our data collection processes’. A research mentor was extremely valuable to guide and ensure validity of the project. Being a grant created a commitment to the project’ ‘Created confidence that we were on the right track. Ensured that we did not bite off more than we would be able to cope with’ ‘ We were able to get contemporary data to support establishment of future strategies

  20. Relationships; Time BUT Our (assigned) academic did not connect with our thinking or questions in the initial meeting and staff didn’t feel he could contribute to the direction we wanted to pursue’ We did not engage our academic support through no other reason than we just didn’t get to it. Having worked with our designated person before it was a tactical error not to engage her.’ There was no useful contact made during the research, the only time we had interaction was on the day of presentation ‘Training and info sessions were not as useful as they could have been- they presumed people did not know things that schools are quite expert in’

  21. 5: General Findings • Initial training support • Those who connected with critical friend early were successful • Developing research proposal • Data collection, analysis & report writing Various ways of working in academic-practitioner situations emerged Grants had a positive impact on work in schools • Sharing with other colleagues & networks • Evidence & innovation credibility • Time • Grant accountability • Funding for teacher release

  22. General Findings Contd Partnership and skill building important • Conducting research • Mentor guidance, published papers, research manageability Challenges for practitioners & academics • Time to meet, • Trust, • Varying perspectives & Acknowledging respective expertise of those involved

  23. 6: Overall Learning • Practitioner research grants: • encouraged and supported practitioners in their innovations & research, • built research knowledge and • fostered partnerships, also • sharing outcomes about innovation Attendee survey was extremely positive about joint work & increased quality of research proposals

  24. Challenges Time Communication Constraints Trust ‘we were not able to access our academic because we couldn’t make contact, but later because we became immersed in the project’ Consider who is contracted to support school based inquiry. Academics do not always have an understanding nor appreciation of the context of school-based research and this shows in their expectations as well as guidance’.

  25. How we evolved for 2013 2012: Critical friends only met with practitioners after the research training day Grants bought time for the teachers but funds were rarely used to continue liaison with academic to support data analysis 2013: Critical friends/ research mentors were determined before the training day and invited to attend to work closely with the practitioners ? Unknown at this point: In Progress

  26. Thank You from Barbara Susanne Sarah Barbara.spears@unisa.edu.au