How does the National Network for Excellence in Science and Technology see the role of the Practitioner Researcher?
The overall aim of the initiative is to trial, capture, evaluate and share first-hand evidence of positive impact in the classroom which will beneficial to the school as well as other teachers seeking to raise standards in science and technology throughout Wales. The role of practitioner researcher will be undertaken by teachers currently working in Foundation Phase and/or Key Stages 2, 3 and 4. In addition, NNEST are keen to recruit post-16 providers from school or further education settings.
The focus of the action research will be on developing aspects of science and technology pedagogy. Practitioner researchers will collect data from a range of evidence bases to support their own professional learning and evaluations and will evidence the impact of changes made and measures taken through a range of observations, including outcomes of assessment information, where relevant. The work will involve sharing findings with other researchers in the project, as well as the wider teacher community. Practitioner researchers will be encouraged to collaborate with other teachers interested in developing practice in similar areas of study, and to use this opportunity to trial ideas and secure evidence to show that these approaches can be transferred effectively to other classrooms.
How will it work in practice?
We are still developing proposals, but in essence, practitioner researchers will be conducting research mostly in their school or college and in their own classroom, although it is anticipated that this may involve their colleagues and their students in the research project.
How will this benefit me and my school?
As a teacher, this is an excellent professional development opportunity. It will give teachers the chance to shape the future of science and technology education in Wales. Practitioner researchers will be able to network and work in partnership with teachers, leaders and other key stakeholders in schools and settings within their local authority and consortium in particular, but also more widely across Wales.
By being at the forefront of NNEST developments, the school will benefit from being involved from the outset. For example, the role will allow practitioner researchers to visit other schools to seek out and research existing good practice that can be further developed in their own school. The role will work in partnership with teachers in other schools so that they can trial the approaches in their classrooms to widen the practitioner researcher’s evidence base. Their own research has the potential to develop sector-leading practice that could impact on national policy.
There is not one pedagogical paradigm that can solve all the problems that arise in science and technology education but a wide variety of methods, approaches and techniques to be drawn on according to context. Empowering teachers to enable them to play an active part in building new approaches, and recycling existing expertise should provide a solution for a sustainable teacher professional development.
Why Action Research?
Action Research (AR) has long been recognised as being particularly effective in developing teachers’ pedagogy as it initiates a change of practice. AR is a way of researching your own practice in your own setting, and considering the impact it can have on the learners you know. Some teachers may have undertaken AR previously as part of their professional development or when they were training. It can be a really effective way of informing your own practice and is a recognised way of developing shared understanding about effective teaching and learning in science and technology.