Thursday, 12 November 2015

(Perhaps) The best way to be evidence-based is not to read the research.

There are two approaches to the idea of teachers using research.

Teacher as researcher

This implies you will need to:
  • do some training to learn how to do research.
  • read a lot of research papers, follow references and interpret data etc
  • carry out research in your classroom.
While some teachers may want to do this, there are problems with this approach:

  • It takes a lot of time.
  • You need to be able to understand the language used in academic papers.
  • You may become selective, finding only research that agrees with you own ideas.
  • You may believe that your small piece of research is valid and claim some expertise.

Teacher using research.

This is much simpler.  We acknowledge that we have little time and lack the skills to compare research papers etc.

  • Use meta-studies and research reviews written by professional researchers.  These look at all the evidence available and create an average or summary of the evidence.
  • Pick methods which, on balance have been shown to be most effective.
  • Choose one or two and practice with them.

EBTN approach

This is the approach suggested by EBTN.  About 20 methods have already been shown to be very effective and, since it takes 6 months to 2 yrs to hone your skills with one new method, there are readily-available ways to improve your students' learning which should keep you busy for a few years without having to read any research.

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