What do we mean by Research Informed Practice in Education?

What do we mean by research informed practice in education

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By Dr Karen Taylor

In 2017, the International School of Geneva’s Institute of Learning and Teaching, in partnership with several outside organizations, launched a series of initiatives whose ultimate purpose is:

  • to develop a space for dialogue among researchers and classroom practitioners
  • to create mechanisms to support research action in international schools.

In short, to promote Research Informed Practice in Education (RIPE).

How do we acquire and retain knowledge?

Educators increasingly seek to base classroom practice on a wide range of current research in education, cognitive psychology and neurobiology, all of which contribute to deeper understanding of how human beings acquire and retain knowledge to make meaning of their world.

To recognize the complexity of learning and to develop one’s practice in response to it is no simple task.

There is a broad range of literature that seeks to define learning, and there appears to be general agreement on certain essential elements:

  1. learning is social and relational, not just in terms of the relationship between student and teacher but in relation to the learning environment and the extent to which it promotes discussion, collaboration and debate;
  2. learning takes place best when it involves reflection, self-assessment and metacognitive awareness;
  3. motivation, readiness, and emotion all play a role in learning;
  4. learning is enhanced when organized around essential ideas and concepts of the disciplines;
  5. learning takes place best in context;
  6. deep learning occurs when students can apply learning to new situations.

All educators seek to ensure that each student reaches his or her learning potential, a particularly challenging undertaking given the wide range of abilities and linguistic and cultural backgrounds that we find in our classrooms.

Research and practice

If we are to meet the needs of learners and respond to the nature of learning itself, then research in education and other related disciplines should inform pedagogical practice.

Yet the reverse is equally true; the wisdom and experience of practitioners should shape the work of researchers.

Collins, Brown & Holum (1991) argued that “cognitive strategies are central to integrating skills and knowledge in order to accomplish meaningful tasks. They are the organizing principles of expertise.”

Collective wisdom

The aim of RIPE is to bring university researchers and classroom practitioners together in a space that will allow us to build on this notion of making our thinking and learning visible as we engage in a shared experience of “cognitive apprenticeship.”

Most importantly, the aim is to work together and to draw from our collective wisdom to create the best possible conditions for student learning.

In collaboration with Durham University, the University of Geneva, Evidence Based Education, Wellington College China and the Association of Genevan Private Schools, The International School of Geneva’s Institute of Learning and Teaching has developed a four-day summer institute, taking place in July 2019, to develop research action projects in international schools.

This RIPE Summer Institute is open to anyone working in a community of learners, be they educators, administration, human resources, ICT, librarians...

  • Participants will be asked to bring with them the burning question at their school.
  • Over the course of 4 days, we will help participants make connections in order to develop the appropriate research action project that will allow them to address their question.
  • During the 2019-2020 academic year, we will provide access to an online forum for discussion and support.
  • Particularly innovative results will be published in a peer-reviewed research journal housed at the University of Geneva.

The programme will include guest speakers, sessions on research methods (in French and in English), workshops on developing research action projects, in addition to time for community building, reflection, consultation and exchange.

Find out more: visit RIPE Summer Institute 2019

About the author:

Karen Taylor is Director of Education and of the Institute of Learning and Teaching at the International School of Geneva. Prior to moving to Switzerland in 2008, Dr. Taylor taught at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC and in the Liberal Studies Degree program at Georgetown University where she earned her PhD in history in 2000. Dr. Taylor’s research interests focus on the links between eighteenth-century French pedagogical writings and Enlightenment epistemology, International Mindedness and Plurilingual Education.

More Information:

Read Prof Coe’s blog post: What is Worth Reading for Teachers Interested in Research?

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