The complexities of enabling research-active teachers: creating conditions for professional enquiry

12th February 2019 : 16:00 - 17:30

Category: Seminar

Speaker: Emmajane Milton (Reader in Education), Dr Alexandra Morgan (Lecturer/Programme Co-ordinator Masters in Educational Practice, Cardiff University)

Location: Seminar Room D, Department of Education

Convener: Katharine Burn

The role of enquiry in the learning and development of teachers is long-established (BERA-RSA, 2014) but its wide-scale adoption in UK contexts has a problematic history.

England and Wales have piloted ambitious but short-lived national development programmes for early career teachers around practice-based enquiry – The Masters in Teaching and Learning (2010-14) and the Masters in Educational Practice (MEP) (2013-18). Scotland has seen various iterations of the Chartered Teacher programme, that promoted collaborative enquiry undertaken with colleagues.

The enactment of teacher enquiry as a serious response to the need for high quality and effective professional learning has proven problematic – not because teachers fail to learn, but because implementation at a national scale exposes conflicted understandings among stakeholders about ‘research’, and the resources and sources of expertise required to support teachers as enquirers. The session, which will include two short presentations, examines some of the complexities of framing and supporting enquiry-based learning for teachers and how the demands on teachers, mentors and senior colleagues can be under-estimated in high-stakes contexts.

  1. What are the long-term benefits of enquiry-based professional learning for early career teachers?’ reports on an ESRC-funded impact study of the MEP. Classroom observation and interview data from participating and non-participating teachers is compared. Analysis focuses on teachers’ efficacy; retention; career trajectories; enduring research engagement; professional values; leadership and support of colleagues’ professional learning. Findings contribute insights into the impact of enquiry-based professional learning within wide-scale contexts. 
  1. ‘Classroom enquiry as professional learning: the crucial role of educative mentoring’ explores the role of external mentors in supporting early career teachers to undertake enquiry. Mentor-mentee dialogue is analysed together with mentors’ reflections on their role. It identifies mentoring strategies that move teacher-enquirers towards deeper, more critical examination of learner experience and their own professional learning.
About the Department of Education

In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

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