Engaging teachers means engaged students

June 23, 2008

To encourage and help teachers become more involved and enthusiastic about "inclusive teaching", the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recently funded an action research based project. Action research can be explained as making changes and studying the impact of those changes in order to bring about an environment where students feel included in their learning process.

According to the project's Co-director Dr Susan Davies, of Trinity College, Carmarthen, "Action research is an opportunity for teachers to look at their practice, reflect on it, and improve on it."

Dr Davies explained "Good action research can enable teachers to see their pupils differently and be a step towards creating a richer pupil–teacher relationship, which challenges the limitations of current teaching methods. For this to happen, there needs to be a model of action research which involves teachers developing shared ownership of an issue, taking action and paying attention to the consequences for pupils' engagement."

As part of the ESRC's Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP), the project sought to explore how this approach could be used to assist teachers to put into practice the principle of 'inclusion' i.e. to increase the participation and achievement of pupils who may be marginalised as a result of circumstances such as disability, ethnicity, gender and social disadvantage.

The starting point for the TLRP project is that many secondary school teachers are unfamiliar with action research, and may be reluctant to become involved because it can be perceived as unfamiliar and too difficult. The researchers found that, unless teachers were given a real sense of ownership, action research became just another imposition on their time and energy. However, if that ownership was successfully developed, then teachers' energy and creativity was released.

Working with seven schools in Wales and England, the outcomes revealed that:

-- collaborative action research can help engage all their pupils in learning,

-- action research, as an aid to inclusion, can be stimulated by giving teachers a strong sense of ownership of the research and its outcomes, and

-- the role of school leaders and educational psychologists as the research facilitators is crucial to the success of using action research to stimulate inclusive teaching.

-- asking questions about how a school adapts to and works with the diversity of its student population,

-- finding out about, and working with, what pupils bring with them to school rather than viewing differences in terms of deficits, and

-- taking account of the understandings that young people have of school and education, rather than seeking only to engage more young people in existing school practice.

Dr Davies continued: "Conceived in this way, inclusion is not a quick fix that can be bolted on, but requires ongoing dialogue between teachers and learners. It requires teachers' active engagement, because inclusion and exclusion are processes that happen minute by minute and lesson by lesson. Also, crucially, senior management needs to appreciate this is a practice that needs to be given space to happen."

Source: Economic & Social Research Council

Explore further: Scots beat Inuit in words for snow

Related Stories

Scots beat Inuit in words for snow

September 23, 2015

It is often said that the Inuit have 50 different words for snow but researchers at the University of Glasgow have discovered that the Scots have even more.

Empower bystanders to stop bullying, says professor

August 12, 2015

It's back-to-school time for many kids across the country—but for students who are subject to bullying, school can be a daunting place to spend eight hours a day. One UT expert suggests empowering bystanders to help put ...

Study finds unexpected biases against teen girls' leadership

July 28, 2015

Making Caring Common (MCC), a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, today released new research that suggests that many teen boys and teen girls—and some of their parents—have biases against teen girls ...

Recommended for you

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.

Search for Egypt's Nefertiti gains new momentum (Update)

September 29, 2015

The search for ancient Egypt's Queen Nefertiti in an alleged hidden chamber in King Tut's tomb gained new momentum as Egypt's Antiquities Minister said Tuesday he is now more convinced a queen's tomb may lay hidden behind ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.