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Research types

In the section, we will focus on what we mean by research and the different types of practitioner-led research that you can undertake in education and training contexts. For example, we will look at:

In addition to the collaborative forms of practitioner-led research listed above, you may also undertake self-supported research where, for example, you work with learners as co-researchers. All such research can be closely aligned to your everyday practice. You can see examples of a variety of practitioner-led research projects carried out by practitioner researchers here.

Collaborative action research

The distinguishing characteristic of collaborative action research is captured by Jean McNiff (2017), who suggests that

  • Conventional research asks, “What is happening here?”
  • Collaborative action research asks, “How can we improve what is happening here?”

Collaborative action research prioritises making changes for learners, and reporting on the effects of these changes. Traditionally, professional researchers set out to investigate teaching/ training by considering a wide range of tests and observations, and then arrive at principles to be applied in practice. In a practitioner research project, you test new approaches in practice, modify these changes in response to results and feedback, and then to share what you have learned. This sharing enables practitioners to consider adopting and adapting these approaches.

What is Practitioner-Led Action Research (PLAR)?

Establishing and Leading Project Research Teams (to enable Outstanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment)

Action Research for Professional Development by Jean McNiff

Joint practice development

Joint Practice Development (JPD) was defined by Michael Fielding and colleagues [2005] as ‘learning new ways of working through mutual engagement that opens up and shares practices with others’. It captures a process that is collaborative, and a key principle is that practice is improved, not just moved from one person or place to another (as can be the case when undertaking CPD).

Another core principle of JPD is that people’s arguments have equality, in so far as, the practitioners who are collaborating with each other have a willingness to learn from each other and a desire to review and improve everyone's practice.

Lesson / Learning Study

Teachers / trainers agree to work together to plan and lead an activity / series of activities. They visit each other’s classrooms / workshops and see how the activity which they have planned together is experienced by the learners. They use feedback from the learners to adapt and improve their approaches with subsequent groups.

Teachers are inevitably too busy to notice everything that happens while they are teaching, and this purposeful relationship enables another trusted colleague (who will be fully aware of the challenges posed by your learners) to detect what is happening and provide constructive insights that will help both teachers to improve their future provision for the learners.

Researchers have commented how shared ‘lesson study’ creates ‘safe’ motivating spaces for teachers to take risks and to learn together from their joint ‘seeing and understanding’ of their learners and sessions.

Lesson Study UK

Lesson Study Partner Planning and Recording Guide

Establishing and Leading Project Research Teams (to enable Outstanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment)