Contributor: Jacq Emkes
The worst Saturday of the year for most teachers….first week back chaos…but here we were joining several hundred ( I am not sure of the official numbers) teachers to attend the first ever Research Ed Conference. Mad? maybe. Enthusiastic? Absolutely.
How extraordinary that as a result of a bit of a tweet 6 weeks ago, a conference was born. There were of course glitches and hitches. No lunch! Not a lot of interactivity. Queues for coffee!…..But after the keynote speaker, Ben Goldacre’s, handling of the technological disasters of his presentation, I will never ever worry about my powerpoints again!
Indeed it goes to show we don’t really need them. So here is a brief summary.
Ben Goldacre – Keynote
His main point was to express the need for a better infrastructure to support evidence-based practice in teaching, plus how to get there.
He made comparisons with other professionals. Doctors take 7 years, including a degree to qualify, Accountants, Lawyers do degrees first then at least 3 years. Teachers? After their degree, they can find themselves in front of a class of students after 6 weeks training. mmmm.
There does seem to be a growing need for synthesis of research into ‘usable’ form. There is so much out there that is difficult to pin down let alone use as evidence for any interventions we would like to make. The NHS has a ‘pathways’ system for this. ( NB Marilyn Leask at University Of Bedford is a pioneer in this field and is wanting to set up an Educational pathway in much the same way as the NHS).
Professional Development for doctors, lawyers accountants is ongoing and a condition of continued progression and employ-ability. Teachers Professional Development does not usually carry the same gravitas? Or does it?
Randomised Control Trials are very much evident in all Bed Goldacre’s writings. I think the conference acknowledged that that is hard to replicate in a school setting. The difficulty is how to randomise the sample. What does anyone else think?
Journal club. This is a great idea – teachers can be encouraged to present a piece of research for critiquing amongst colleagues who then ‘fill the gap’. Perhaps this could be in a teach meet style. Or maybe on an electronic collaborative site. See Twitter feed for suggestion by Caro @CMMarshall113
Ben felt that it is not acceptable to say that more research is needed. What is needed is identification of the gaps and how to fill them.
In school Ben feels we need to facilitate research and encourage enquiry. We should continually be asking: Does this intervention work? What is the evidence? Not everyone will like us for that!
Finally my favourite quote: The opposite of cluefully is clueless!
My next post will summarise other sessions I attended.