What is the ULRI?
The United Learning Research Institute was set up by the United Church Schools Trust and United Learning Trust as a group-wide educational research institute. It builds upon educational research already completed by key researchers within the group. This research has emerged from the e-learning action research programme, the Teacher Leader programme and the curriculum and data research departments within the group. Within the institute, we will establish a 'teacher researcher' programme that gives formal accreditation to teachers. We will publish research either in journals of our own or in existing publications. We will conduct our own major conferences on educational research open to the broader educational community.
Whom will it benefit?
The Institute will help schools and academies to identify and discuss issues arising from research and map research against curriculum, teaching and learning strategies.
It will arrange seminars for teacher-researchers to draw out implications from their research and plan dissemination strategies where relevant.
An important outcome will also be the development and promotion of different research methodologies for use within the classroom.
The Institute will promote and encourage, capture, publish and circulate practitioner-based action research that is highly relevant to existing and emergent priorities in learning and teaching.
The Institute will define and promote the role of the teacher-researcher by seeking accreditation through a major HE institution with possible credits towards a Master's degree.
The Institute will encourage good use of action research by teachers and will produce resources based upon key research findings to be used in teaching and learning strategies. It will promote usage of these resources by teachers.
The Institute will help teachers in schools and academies to organise, prioritise, implement and document action research and will compile and maintain a community of practice of teacher-researchers
The Institute will ensure the dissemination of action research both within and beyond the group and will develop, promote and update research on the group intranet whilst also disseminating research findings through newsletters, conferences and conference proceedings and other publications. In these ways the Institute will make group research more visible in the broader education community. There will also be an annual research conference for teachers within and beyond the group and the compilation of a programme of research activities for potential external funders.
As well as research emerging from teachers' own reflective practices, the Institute will undertake research on broader issues. The first major piece of such research is being undertaken in conjunction with the Institute for Educational Effectiveness at the University of York and is in the use of ActivExpression, the new group Learner Response System. The hypotheses for this research are:
- ActivExpression is a strong catalyst for improves teaching and learning
- The learning pattern in the classroom is different when ActivExpression is used
- Staff competence is critical in the successful adoption of ActivExpression
- The gap between more and less advantaged students closes when ActivExpression is used
- Student attainment increases with the use of ActivExpression
The action research approaches are:
- To examine the different ways that ActivExpression relates to school innovation and improvement and under what conditions it functions as a catalyst for these
- To uncover the critical variables that relate to the successful implementation of ActivExpression
- To detect undesirable impacts of ActivExpression upon school functioning and student learning
Data will be collected by means of:
- Interviews with other teachers and pupils, administrators, headteachers, governors, students, parents and technology specialists
- Observations and documentation of lessons
- Development and review of schemes of work and lesson plans
- Documentation of teaching practices
Case studies will illustrate major applications of ActivExpression to the educational context which UCST schools and ULT academies are exploring. They will focus on:
- The use of ActivExpression in monitoring student progress and target setting
- Changes in teaching and learning strategies using ActivExpression
- The role of the school or academy in using ActivExpression to encourage and support learning across all areas
We believe that there are significant benefits to be gained for students, teachers, the group and the wider educational community with the establishment of a research institute. These benefits could include the actual raising of student attainment through improved, reflective classroom practice. Research by teachers could provide evidence to support and inform school development and improvement strategies. It will also be a valuable source of quality professional development for teachers leading to a formal recognition of improved teacher research competencies