Sunday 4 February 2018

The School Research Lead and Teacher Journal Clubs - Summarising the evidence

In this post I look at how a school research lead might wish to summarise the evidence about teacher journal clubs.  In doing so, I will try and make we have a format that allows the including of four sources evidence and also takes into the context of the individual.  However, given the workload pressures, it is recognised that whatever report or document is produced, can be produced relatively quickly and without being burdensome.  As such, whilst the example uses a Word based tabular format, the same information could also be presented on 10 - 12 slide PowerPoint or through the use of some kind of mind map

The template

The following example has been produced for a fictional school, which is considering introducing a teacher journal club into its professional learning programme.  As will be seen from the example, the school is relatively new to research and is just beginning to put its 'toe in the water'.

 Teacher Journal Clubs
 Background question

How can teacher journal clubs contribute to teacher professional learning and the use of evidence-based practice?
 Teacher journal clubs appear to have the potential to contribute to the increased use of evidence-informed practice.   Initial discussions with stakeholders suggest there is support for piloting a journal club within the school.   Although, no-one within the school – be it teaching assistants, teachers and senior leadership – have experience in running journal clubs, adequate resources are available on the internet to support their introduction. 
Description of the best available evidence
Although there appears to be no systematic reviews in educational settings about use of teacher journal clubs, a systematic reviews in a health setting (Deenadayalan et al., 2008) provides guidance on how to run a successful journal club.  This guidance suggests: regular and anticipated meetings, mandatory attendance, clear long- and short-term purpose, appropriate meeting timing and incentives, a trained journal club leader to choose papers and lead discussion, circulating papers prior to the meeting, using the internet for wider dissemination and data storage, using established critical appraisal processes and summarizing journal club findings. (from abstract)
Recent research in education (Sims et al., 2017)involving two 11-18 mixed secondary schools (Ofsted – outstanding) indicates that journal clubs are a viable, scalable model of teacher-led professional development, capable of creating sustained increases in evidence-informed practice 
School Data
The school is a mixed 11-18 school and is currently rated by Ofsted as good.  The school has an extensive programme of professional learning – though little or none is focused on research use.  The school has recently recruited a number of new staff who are at the beginning of their career.  However, there are also a number of staff who have been at the school for over twenty years. Although in recent years the professional learning budget has been squeezed – there is still sufficient time in the programme for half-termly journal clubs

Stakeholders’ views (pupils, staff, parents, community)
 A number of teachers within the school are active on Twitter and are aware that the school currently provides few opportunities for teachers to engage in research evidence.  Successful schools in the locality have introduced journal clubs and it is perceived that this has contributed to those schools’ reputation for innovation.  However, there are other teachers who do not see the value of educational research and are aware of schools which have introduced journal clubs – and then have quietly dropped them after a year.  Nevertheless, there is a general consensus amongst the teaching staff that it may be worth undertaking a small pilot with volunteers.

Practitioner expertise – key leaders
 None of the major decision-makers within the school – the HT, 2 DHTs and the newly appointed School Research Lead (SRL)– have experience of running or participating in a journal club.  However, the SRL has attended a number of researchED events and has seen presentations on how to successfully run a journal club.  The SRL is also aware of resources available on the Internet and produced by teachers – which give clear advice on how to ensure a journal club is successful.  In addition, the SRL is currently studying for a post-graduate degree in education.

Questions for consideration

·      Can we access suitable research journals?
·      How do recruit volunteers for the pilot?
·      Do teachers have the capacity and capability to understand and apply research findings?
·      Do we have someone of sufficient knowledge and expertise to lead the journal club?
·      Can desired changes in teaching practice can be identified?
·      Is sufficient time available for the implementation of journal club?
·      How will the impact of the journal club be measured?

References and resources

·      (Deenadayalan et al., 2008)
·      (Sims et al., 2017)


·      School research lead

·      To be shared by email and to be discussed at the next staff meeting
·      Prior discussion of paper at departmental meetings

Update and review

·      When is it likely that new relevant evidence be available?
·      During 2018 as reports on the efficacy of Research Learning Communities and the School Research Leads are published by the EEF.
·      End of the academic year


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