Teachers as Researchers
Participatory research for the educational sciences: Scaling the sharing of routine pedagogical experimentations and observations, and catalyzing their collective intelligence.
Teachers are considered as one of the major pivots for improving the educational system. Indeed, the variability between teachers could explain up to 20% of students’ progression (Nye et al. EEPA 2004). Research suggests that the best means for teachers professional development – and ultimately for enhancing students’ learning – is having to make visible, through self-reflection and interactions with peers, their teaching actions and observed results (Hattie, Visible Learning 2010). Indeed, millions of teachers learn to teach daily by experimenting and intuiting “what works” and “what doesn’t work”. In that sense, each classroom could be seen as a living research laboratory contributing to teaching and learning sciences. This project aims at catalysing such a collective intelligence by inviting teachers to join a community of “teacher-researchers” in which action plans, successes and failures are scientifically reported.
In this project we focus on kindergarten and primary school teachers. We focus on instances when teachers learn by reflecting about the impact of their pedagogical actions in students, collectively considered as “teaching research” studies. We created a series of workshops to accompany groups of teachers throughout the year to conduct and structure their “teaching research”. Inspired from frameworks from action research and reporting of medical research, teachers are invited to explicit their context, objectives, research questions, pedagogical interventions, results and conclusions (Schulz et al. BMJ 2010, Cohen et al. Research Methods in Education 2018). Workshops are grounded in the use of digital tools to gather and share the documentation of “teaching research” studies. Workshops are protocolised through scripts flexible enough to be adapted and reused by others, but rigid enough to ensure a common data collection frame. “Teaching research” reports are systematically analysed to develop bottom-up taxonomies for teachers’ objectives, interventions, results and conclusions. Such taxonomies are revised and re-used by teachers to use a common language, easing the conduct of aggregated analyses of “teaching research” studies.
This is a work in progress for a 3-year research program. Up-to-date, two groups of 20 teachers started the series of workshops in September 2019 in Paris, and two new groups of 5 and 10 teachers started in December 2019 in Vendée and Nancy.