My answer to the question in the title is a reluctant yes. Some teachers certainly can be researchers, but most, as the author of this post, Marc Smith, points out, lack the necessary training. I am less reluctant to answer positively the question whether teachers should be researchers. Teachers should definitely do research in their classroom, although not necessarily the kind of randomised double blind field trials that academic researchers might prefer. In my opinion, teachers should try to develop a scientific approach to their own teaching. This means that we view teaching as a continuous experiment of trial and error of our teaching practice. John Hattie’s 8 Mindframes may offer a framework for this process. What works and does not work is essentially judged on the basis of our own observations, requiring some sort of standardisation. It would even be better if we could collaborate with academic researchers and compare data from different classes and schools, as suggested in this post, but I see no reason for us to wait for that to happen.
Pedro De Bruyckere alerted me to this interesting post at ‘Psychology in Education’, suggesting teachers to “… welcome researchers who are looking for cooperation into your class and schools.”
As the debate over evidence-based teaching continues there appears to be two separate strands emerging:
Strand 1: Teaching should be evidence-based (or evidence-informed).
I certainly have no issue with this, although the view of ‘what works’ is perhaps a secondary debate.
Strand 2: Teachers should also be researchers.
At a superficial level this appears like a pretty good idea – imagine the amount of evidence teachers could gather if they were all carrying out their own research studies within their own schools?
To be honest, it’s more than likely that strand 2 would lead to complete chaos. Let’s face it; there is enough bad educational research out there already, without research naïve teachers adding to it.
I view educational research through the lens of a psychologist and hold a very similar view to other psychologist-teachers (e.g. @turnfordblog) that (in terms of science) if psychology is in the Dark Ages…
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