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Sibel Erduran, Professor of Science Education and Deputy Director of Research at the Department of Education, University of Oxford has co-authored a new book, “Transforming Teacher Education Through the Epistemic Core of Chemistry: Empirical Evidence and Practical Strategies”.

The book, published by Springer and written with Dr Ebru Kaya, associate professor in science education at Bogazici University, Turkey, illustrates the relevance of philosophy of chemistry in the education of chemistry teachers. It investigates how to make chemistry education more meaningful for both students and teachers, rather than concentrating on “cookbook” activities where students and teachers follow “recipes”, memorise formulae and recall facts without a deeper understanding of how and why knowledge in chemistry works. This book provides empirical evidence for the integration of epistemic themes in pre-service teachers’ learning.

The book is the second Professor Erduran has published this year: “Argumentation in Chemistry Education: Research, Policy and Practice” came out in February.

“Transforming Teacher Education Through the Epistemic Core of Chemistry: Empirical Evidence and Practical Strategies” provides an example of how theory and practice in chemistry education can be bridged. It reflects on the nature of knowledge in chemistry by referring to theoretical perspectives from philosophy of chemistry. Drawing on empirical evidence from research on teacher education, it illustrates concrete strategies and resources that can be used by educators. With the use of visual representations and analogies, the project makes some fairly abstract and complex ideas accessible to pre-service teachers.

Discover more about Professor Erduran’s work and research here.

Department of Education Academic Jason Todd responds to coverage of a Tide-Runnymede Trust report that he co-authored.

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In Trinity Term 2019 the Oxford Department of Education will hold a flagship event series on ‘Future Directions in Teacher Education Research, Practice and Policy’ convened by Diane Mayer (Professor of Education (Teacher Education) and Alis Oancea (Professor of Philosophy of Education and Research Policy and Director of Research) and in commemoration of its 100th anniversary.

The series will include six public seminars, taking place on Monday 29 April, 13 May, 20 May, 3 June, 10 June and 17 June and running from 5pm to 6.30pm in the department, as well as an annual public lecture on Friday 10 May from 5pm at Worcester College. The seminars will cover topics from regional reforms in Teacher Education, to comparative global research perspectives and future directions to help connect policy, research and practice.  Speakers will include experts from across the department, including an inaugural seminar by Diane Mayer, as well as international speakers from Arizona State University and the University of Helsinki.

The focus of the annual lecture will be ‘The Quest for Better Teaching’, with guest speaker Jenny Gore (Visiting Professor, Department of Education and Laureate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Newcastle) and a panel of respondents including Dame Alison Peacock (Chief Executive of The Chartered College of Teaching), Martin Mills (Professor and Director of the Centre for Research on Teachers and Teaching at UCL) and Trevor Mutton (Director of Professional Programmes and the Oxford Education Deanery, Department of Education).

A preliminary seminar on ‘Rethinking Teacher Education: The Trouble with Accountability’ was delivered by Marilyn Cochran-Smith (Boston College, USA) on 18 February and can be listened to here.

All further events in the series will be recorded and made available on the University podcast site.

This series marks 100 years since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers and aims to reflect on our past and pay particular tribute to our contributions in the field of teacher education today. Attendance is free but registration essential. The full programme is as follows:

Classroom-based Interventions Across Subject Areas: Research to Understand What Works in Education
5pm, Monday 29 April – Department of Education

The Quest for Better Teaching *2019 Annual Lecture*
5pm, Friday 10 May – Worcester College

Making Change Happen – The Reform of Initial Teacher Education in Wales
5pm, Monday 13 May – Department of Education

Comparative Teacher Education Research: Global Perspectives in Teacher Education Past, Present and Future
5pm, Monday 20 May – Department of Education

The Connections and Disconnections in Teacher Education Policy, Research and Practice: Future Research Directions
5pm, Monday 3 June – Department of Education

What Are Teachers’ Professional Competencies?
5pm, Monday 10 June – Department of Education

Building Research Capacity in Teacher Education
5pm, Monday 17 June – Department of Education

Listen to all the seminars in full here

About our Public Seminar Series

The Department of Education’s Public Seminar Series are held on a termly basis throughout the academic year and are designed to engage wider audiences in topical research areas across the department. Seminars are free to attend and open to all. Each series is convened by a member of the department and seminars are held on most Mondays during term from 5pm. Speakers include a wealth of academics from across the department and the wider University, as well as internationally recognised professionals from across the globe. All upcoming seminars are publicised, in advance, on the department’s event pages and where possible recorded and made available on the University’s podcast site.

If you have an interest in the future of education and would like to be kept informed of our research and anniversary activities, join our mailing list to receive the top news, publications and event opportunities for the forthcoming year and beyond.



Article citing research conducted by Professor Pam Sammons (Professorial Senior Research Fellow)

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Article citing Professor Ted Melhuish (Academic Research Leader).

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Congratulations to Anna-Maria Ramezanzadeh who was awarded the 2018 best postgraduate teacher award by the University’s student union on 10 May. This award recognises current graduate students who are helping undergraduate and postgraduate students by teaching during their degree.

Anna-Maria is currently researching ‘the motivation and engagement of Arabic learners around the UK’ for her DPhil in Education and has been teaching Arabic at various University departments.

Find out more.

The Department for Education have reaffirmed their commitment to reducing unnecessary teacher workload and released a new video ‘Working together on workload’ which draws on the department’s research on effective marking practices.

The research report, A marked improvement?, which was published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in 2016 looks at what research evidence says about written marking and whether many of the approaches currently adopted are a good use of teachers’ time. The research which was led by Victoria Elliott in collaboration with Jo-Anne Baird, Therese Hopfenback, Jenni Ingram, Ian Thompson, department doctoral students Natalie Usher and Mae Zantout, and two authors from the EE,  says there needs to be more research into which marking strategies really work, but also identifies some approaches that do make a difference.

In the video the Chief Inspector for Ofsted, Amanda Spielman refers to the report, and a primary teacher explains how they used the evidence in it to revolutionise their marking approach and reduce teacher workload.

The Department for Education’s campaign draws on the report’s central message that marking needs to be making a difference to pupil progress – the time something takes needs to be balanced against the impact that it has. A marked improvement continues to be one of the most popular reports produced for the EEF and a Research Schools conference marking two years from the original publication will be held at Liverpool Hope University in June.

Watch the video in full here.

Naomi Eisenstadt on how we can work with parents to give us the best possible chance of improving outcomes for children.

Parental engagement is often regarded as the missing link by educators, that elusive ingredient in the educational journey. The feeling is that if we get it right we can see a much greater impact on what happens in the classroom.  But finding out what works is harder than you might think, as I’ve seen working on testing the impact of some promising projects.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Sutton Trust are working with six voluntary organisations to help them build evidence of the impact their interventions are having on educational outcomes for disadvantaged children ranging in age from two to six. The interventions include supporting parents to engage in their children’s learning through developing their own love of books, identifying day to day opportunities to reinforce early literacy, sending parents ideas of educational games to play with their children through a smartphone app, and training early years practitioners to engage parents in their children’s early education.

I am part of a small team from the University Of Oxford Department Of Education who are helping them to design evaluation strategies that are practical to deliver for small organisations while having sufficient rigour to provide useful information about impact.

We met earlier this month with the organisations and Impetus Private Equity Foundation who are helping them to identify key organisational features that improve quality of delivery of the interventions. This was about learning both from what has worked and what hasn’t.

We gathered in workshops looking at programme design, attendance, delivery level and leadership level learning, trying to answer the questions ‘Could we do what we do better and if so, how should we adapt?’

There are no easy answers, but we need to know them if delivery is going to be scaled up.

We saw a number of important messages emerging from the day. The first is how much harder it is to test out parental engagement interventions than testing out classroom based interventions. Schools are different from almost every other public service, in that all children must attend school, most parents agree that children should attend school, and the basic aims of education are widely understood and supported by the public.  Parental interventions are almost always voluntary, and ensuring participation from those who could benefit most from a programme is a challenge.

But the more we learn about how to engage parents, the greater our chance of changing children’s lives for the better.

The second key message is about the challenge of the task itself:  it is widely accepted that school success is largely influenced by what mothers and fathers do at home with their children before school, and continue to do at home during the primary school years.  We know which behaviours are effective in developing a love of learning in children. However, knowing something makes a difference is not the same as being able to get parents to carry out those activities that make that difference.  Changing behaviour is hard which is why it’s important to build the evidence of what works, and that’s what these organisations are focused on doing.

And then there is the question of cost, something we must focus on in the early stages of planning an intervention.  The cost will play a big role in the likelihood that any intervention, even those with a very good evidence base of effectiveness, is taken up. A wonderful programme that is out of reach for those it could most help is useless.  We need to work hard to ensure our interventions are cost effective taking into account the level of impact they have.

Impetus PEF encouraged a forensic focus on a clearly explained purpose as the key to success.  The temptation to try to achieve many things with one intervention is great, but so are the risks:  diluting expertise and impact, making it difficult to ascribe particular outcomes to particular aspects of the intervention.  Clarity of purpose also works to ensure that across all likely partners there is a shared understanding of what the intervention and the organisation promoting it is all about.

Finally, it was clear by the end of the day, and by the small group discussions, that sharing what did not work as well as what strategies did work is essential, as it demonstrates that no one has all the answers. The reassurance that we all face similar challenges provides encouragement to keep striving to improve. After all, by being persistently curious about our practice and learning what does and doesn’t work for others, we give ourselves the best possible chance of improving outcomes for children.

Naomi Eisenstadt is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford Department for Education and is working with the Sutton Trust on our early years Parental Engagement Fund. She led the Sure Start programme in England during the 2000s and is an adviser to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on children’s issues. She is also a member of the Sutton Trust’s Education Advisory Group.

Assessment in science at KS3 has changed significantly since the abolition of the KS3 SATS in October 2008 and the subsequent introduction of the Assessing Pupils’ Progress Strategy.

This project is carrying out case studies of school science departments who are partners in the department’s Internship Scheme in order to investigate to what extent the strategy has been implemented and to explore teachers’ perceptions of its effectiveness. The findings will inform future Science PGCE seminars about assessment and are also being written up for submission to Assessment for Education.

Research Director: Judith Hillier
Funding body: Oxford University Department of Education Research Committee