Lost in translation? Can the use of theories of action be effective in helping teachers develop and scale up research-informed practice

Christopher David Brown, Jane Flood

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Abstract

The premise of the paper is that research informed teaching practice (RITP) is considered a hallmark of high performing education systems. At the same time teachers’ use of research tends to be conceptual rather than instrumental. As a result, the authors of this paper argue that facilitating RITP requires approaches that enable teachers to both engage with research on effective interventions, but also to understand how such interventions can be tailored to meet the specificities of their local situation.

To meet this need, the paper reports on the use of ‘theories of action’ based approach as a means to aid teachers’ engagement with research and to help them ascertain them most effective ways to make use of it. The research setting for this paper is the Chestnut CE Learning Federation, a family of three small Church Infant Schools based in Hampshire. A mixed methods approach comprising pre and post intervention surveys and 15 in-depth interviews was used to evaluate the theory of action approach. Findings suggest the theory of action approach has enabled Chestnut Federation's teachers to successfully engage with research evidence on effective pedagogic practices: specifically all teachers developed research informed approaches that improved outcomes for both themselves and their pupils.

Vitally however our findings suggest that, more generally, the effective use of research/scale up of interventions is less to do with the instrumental replication of existing strategies and more to do with understanding why interventions have been successful and how that success might be realised in a new setting and context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-154
Number of pages11
JournalTeaching and Teacher Education
Volume72
Early online date17 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

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