Research enquiries from the RSA teacher trainees

We are drawing towards the end of the training year for our teacher trainees who have been working extremely hard with the RSA Academies’ Teaching School Alliance and their placement schools. One of the course requirements is that students undertake a research module. This research is directed through a design thinking approach and yesterday I had the great pleasure and privilege of listening to the trainees presenting their research questions and findings.

One of the benefits of having taken a design thinking approach is that through the support of the course facilitator, Greg Klerkx, it was clear to see how the trainees had linked their research enquiry to their personal interests and teaching motivations, and how they are beginning to reflect the findings back on their own practice and behaviours.

The research questions posed by the trainees included:

  • What impact, if any, does being in role have on engagement levels for students in Year 7?
  • Is phonics teaching transferable from primary to secondary and impactful for students of an EAL (English as an additional language) background?
  • Does participation in extra-curricular PE and sports related activity impact on attitudes to learning in students studying BTEC Level 2 Sport
  • Can visual thinking be integrated and used for literacy progress in Year 8?
  • What strategies, if any, can teachers adopt to enhance learning in newly acquired classes?
  • What is the impact of teaching culture in MFL (modern foreign languages) on attitudes to learning in Year 7?
  • How does a school teach students to be ready for exams with the new National Curriculum in Mathematics?
  • What impact do weekly intervention sessions have on GCSE grades in English?
  • What effect, if any, does the labelling of students with dyslexia have on student expectations, depending on length of service?
  • Can empathy raise student engagement within history lessons, and should it become a core focus once again within history teaching?
  • How does micro-teaching permeate modern teaching practice and what impact does it have on classroom management and learning?
  • What impact, if any, do assessment strategies have on attitudes to learning of girls, specifically in Year 7 core PE?
  • What is the impact on motivation for Year 10 students in Physics, when engaged in acquiring independent learning skills?
  • An enquiry into how a Year 7 scheme of learning maintains pupil engagement and a love of learning within Art and Design while on a Creative Arts carousel rotation.
  • Is there any difference in the impact of using praise only, and a combination of praise and feedback?

So just to whet your appetite, the findings will follow in July.

Taking the time to be sure about their research question and what direction to take it in was part of the initial discovery and embedding stages of the design thinking process, which included:

  • To establish a way of working, framed by design thinking principles
  • To conduct an initial exploration of research ideas
  • To establish the group as an ongoing resource for refining and progressing ideas
  • To sharpen and evolve research enquiries
  • To fully connect research topics to personal/professional interests and passions.

Research is an important part of training and professional development of teachers, and helps to cultivate a culture of research within school. After this initial year, the NQT/RQT will have the opportunity of going on to engage in research more deeply through the RSA Enquiry Fellowship route.

Related project: Research to enhance teaching