Learning about Research by Doing Research: Developing Student Researchers
In this article, senior lecturers and second-year students from the BA (Hons) Primary Education programme at Bishop Grosseteste University who were involved in an educational research project reflect on the importance of teacher-led research and the impact on students of leading their own research projects. Teachers’ involvement with knowledge creation is widely recognised as an effective form of professional development (Hopkins, 2014; Taber, 2013). There has also been an increasingly prevalent binary view of Initial Teacher Education in which the real practical learning goes on in school placements whilst more theoretical learning goes on in universities (Czerniawski, 2018). However, student teacher research involving children should be seen as a consolidation of theory and practice. It is therefore essential that student teachers learn how to carry out research involving children, understand the ethical implications of this and recognise the value of reflecting on the effectiveness of pedagogical approaches. However, undertaking this kind of practitioner research can be daunting. Over the period of six weeks, the students were coached in research methods, data collection, analysis of data and drawing conclusions. Children from partnership schools visited the university to take part in the research tasks. This gave the students a valuable insight to key aspects of teaching and learning such as the children’s reading preferences, the use of digital resources to teach science and using story to support mathematical understanding. Students’ findings were presented in the form of research posters. Students found the project an interesting way to develop their understanding of research and reflected positively about what they had learnt about research methods.