Focus on… Action Research Projects
What a difference a year makes – Action Research Projects supported by the LSIS Excellence and Improvement Fund
Building on work carried out by last year’s project holders, this year’s Action Research Projects have got off to a good start. These projects are part of the drive to encourage and support practitioners in the further education sector to conduct their own teaching and learning enquiry by identifying an issue, exploring possible solutions and measuring the impact on teaching and learning.
Across the STEM subjects, more than 75 projects have been accepted and are well under way. Practitioners from all parts of the sector are involved in investigations focusing on issues that will make improvements to teaching and learning. Some are working in collaboration with colleagues across STEM departments or taking a whole organisation approach. Others are working in consortia with other providers.
Some of the emerging themes from this year’s projects:
- Supporting colleagues to examine and reflect on ways to improve their practice
Tyne Met College’s engineering department is encouraging staff to make a clear shift away from more traditional delivery techniques in core subjects such as mathematics and to engage in more active learning strategies using a variety of teaching and learning approaches. They are setting up teaching squares to observe, give feedback and measure the impact on their learners.
- STEM colleagues working collaboratively to improve teaching and learning across science, engineering and mathematics
An example of this is at Wirral Met College, where the mathematics subject learning coach (SLC) is working closely with her engineering colleagues to improve the delivery of mathematics in engineering. She is introducing a range of approaches and resources used in mathematics to engineering practitioners, in order to build confidence, offer support and improve practice.
- Working together to improve the quality and consistency of teaching and learning
At Exeter College, the aim of the project is to improve the learning in practical sessions, to share practice across six science departments, and to agree on the underlying principles for maximising learning in practical sessions. Measuring the impact on learning, top tips and “how to get the best from your practicals” are the expected outcomes of the project.
Getting Started events in January provided opportunities for researchers to get to know the projects, to share ideas, and to get support on action planning and examining ways of measuring the impact of their projects.
The feedback from delegates at the Getting Started Networks was very positive:
“The opportunity to talk to like-minded people was really helpful to plan out my objectives.”
“The opportunity to hear how other people are approaching their projects, time to think, discuss, and start action planning was very useful.”
Regional dissemination events are planned for late September and early October 2009 with the final case studies and accompanying resources and materials available on-line at the end of September on the Excellence Gateway
Some of the completed projects will be showcased at the LSIS National Teaching and Learning event on 2 July 2009.