Quick thoughts and questions about research
I’m increasingly fascinated by it and try to use it to inform my decisions at school more and more, but I think using research, even quantitative research, can be tricky if you don’t look at the bigger picture. Andrew Sabisky got me thinking about it in more depth when he tweeted this a few days ago:
I’ll start us off – 1) class size doesn’t matter much (robust & highly surprising), and 2) TAs currently have null effects, used badly. GO!
— Andrew Sabisky (@AndrewSabisky) July 12, 2014
So class size doesn’t matter much. The Sutton Trust Teaching and Learning Toolkit is an obvious place to start when looking at different measures and their impact on attainment and it agrees: reducing class size has a low impact, but high cost. Is it that simple though?
Take my phase this year: we employed an extra teacher, which reduced class sizes. This enabled me, and the other teachers, to spend more time on something which does have a very high impact: meaningful feedback. If we had carried on doing what we’d always done, just with smaller class sizes, then I doubt there would have been much of a difference, but using a reduced class size to focus on something that could make a real difference did just that. So, for me, albeit indirectly, class size has mattered.
You could go on to say the same for other measures that have little or no impact according to the Toolkit, such as TAs. However, if a TA is deployed in such a way that he or she feeds into or enhances a measure that does have impact (feedback again is a good one) then having a TA then does become a resource that has an impact. Doesn’t it?
How do you use (or try to use, like me) research to inform you practice? How do different strategies impact on one another?
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