Why should ITT trainees engage with educational research?

Last updated: 06-13-2018

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Why should ITT trainees engage with educational research?

The blog this week comes from Katie Waring, Head of ITT at Bradford Birth-19 SCITT.

Having spent 25 years working in education I don’t think there has ever been so much ‘talk’ about research in education.  Research schools, the EEF and the IEE are just some of the organisations that are raising the profile of research in our sector through their presence on twitter and other social media, meaning that we have constant information about research at our finger tips, but in an ITT year which is crammed full already why should you engage with research in education?

Research literacy is the extent to which teachers and leaders are familiar with a range of research methods, with the latest research findings and with the implications of this research for their day-to-day practice, and for education policy and practice more broadly.  If this is our definition then for trainees who are growing their practice, how research findings can be applied to this practice should be key to their successful journey, and a research literate trainee will be one that will be building their practice on secure foundations, that will help with the transition into an NQT year.  A research literate trainee is capable of responding to new and different challenges, of understanding and looking critically at the grounds on which suggestions or demonstrations of “what works” are actually based.

As your training progresses, you will have the capacity, motivation and opportunity to use research related skills to investigate what is working well and what isn’t effective in your own practice alongside your mentor.  You develop and sustain the capacity for self-improvement, which you certainly rely on in your NQT year. If we consider research to be any deliberate investigation that is carried out with a view to learning more about a particular educational issue, then this makes trainee teachers well placed to be engaged in research as they become more competent in the classroom. Investigation might take a variety of forms and be concerned with a range of issues, for example: the secondary analysis of published data on in year admissions, interviewing a range of colleagues about examination performance in the Science Department, taking part in a national Randomised Control Trial concerned with the teaching of Phonics, responding to a survey about teachers’ use of the internet to inform curriculum planning, working with a university department of education on a study into teachers’ use of social media or engaging in enquiry based learning. By thinking about research in this broad way it shows that all teachers including those at the start of their career, are able to likely to be able to use research to develop their practice.

I believe it helps to build a new teacher’s professional identity, by building pride and excitement, creating a capable professional, expanding their intellectual capacity and what is more important in your ITT year?

By engaging with a wide range of research, you  are more likely to embrace a culture which encourages informed risk-taking in your practice, allowing you to step out of your comfort zone. Being engaged in research can provide a social practice; it provides the company of others who can help to facilitate such change.

But maybe most importantly…

It helps trainees understand that they matter – it’s a profession that matters.

Here are two articles about research that ITT trainees should read, and should leave you wanting to find out more!

9 Things Every Teacher Should Know– Dylan Wiliam in the TES


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