Teachers as Researchers – a project in 4 parts

 A Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) and Primary Education and Partnerships (PEP) collaboration for Tower Hamlets schools.

Written by Julia Weston
Independent Consultant for PEP

Thursday 6th December 2018

“What’s in a question? Good question!”

Session 2: What does our data tell us and how will this inform our research projects?

Our second gathering, welcoming back Alison Eley and Ruth Shallcross from the Primary Science Teaching Trust, allowed us an opportunity to share the initial data gathered by the schools in the project. The plethora of information schools had collected and the care and thought which had been put into the triangulation of data and its analysis was impressive. It also allowed an opportunity to discuss any issues they’d had in collecting information. In some cases, open ended questions proved less useful in eliciting data than the teachers had anticipated; in other cases, pupils were simply unable to talk about scientific skills they had been learning, despite the explicit teaching which had taken place. All the data however gave us great scope for formulating more tightly our chosen path of action research.

Ruth led some discussion about how to frame our research questions, in order to be clear about exactly what we are aiming to achieve through this project.

Certain frames for the questions were proposed as a way of coming to that point of clarity:

To what extent does…...lead to …….

What strategies can we use to….

Does X lead to Y?

She also shared an impact grid she’d worked on as part of a previous research project in EYFS science development. There was some valuable input about the role of all the adults in the classroom, which had been pertinent to the project she’d completed: whilst the project had been to encourage pupils to use specific science vocabulary in their setting, the adults involved had been accepting non-specific language in pupil responses. Se we were mindful that even as our strategies unfold, we may still be making changes in how we move forward with our ideas. The team had needed to go back to their original impact planning sheet and redefine even more clearly what they would do and what they’d expect pupils and adults in the setting to be doing and saying.

Planning for impact grid: the addition of certain question prompts supported the teachers in gaining some clarity in helpfully recording our core decisions in undertaking the research.

Our gap task reading - “What’s in a question? Good question!”

(Jude Penny and Colin Forster, Primary Science No 154 pp23-25 Sep/Oct 2018) – raised interesting insights into a student-teacher based research project around questions asked in science lessons. They’d not conducted much in the way of baseline data – but had found ways to collect that which was relevant to the study during the course of their work. Our group found the article a useful way of considering how the researchers moved through their project – as well as enjoying it’s brevity!

And Ali reflected on the usefulness of having some staff meeting time – where relevant – to allow staff to read professional research-based articles in order to inform a debate – and how this can be welcomed by staff for a variety of reasons – not least so that they can partake in an informed professional debate.

Teachers could be provided with core prompts to focus their discussions such as: highlight something you find interesting or highlight something you’d like to try or highlight anything which puzzles you.

So, session two wrapped up with a short time to begin to consider the next set of research-based articles from past Primary Science issues which had been provided for us. These are then intended to start us thinking about strategies we will begin to try in our projects ahead of our next gathering at the end of January.

The date of next session is 30th January 2019 where we’ll look forward to learning from each other how our projects are unfolding.

https://pstt.org.uk/

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Julia Weston
Independent Consultant
PEP Team

For further information please contact:

Julia.weston@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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