Research and its role in a trainee’s development
When first told about the research project that we would be conducting during our PGCE year, in all honesty I was not looking forward to it; however over the course of my research I have begun to appreciate the real benefits which research has had on my professional development.
Whilst I still appreciated that the assignment was going to be demanding, my own specific interests and queries within teaching started to take form and eventually led to my decision to research the interaction between feedback and student confidence.
Secondary research through reading around my subject has proved to be invaluable within my first year of teaching; it has provided me with a depth of understanding and a range of perspectives on various elements of the profession. I will undoubtedly continue to read around educational based research in areas I see of importance at different points in time.
In terms of primary research, conducting a large (ish) study is something which I may consider undertaking in a few years’ time, but for the moment it will be put on the back burner. Before embarking on anything major in terms of research, I aim to hone my teaching skills and build my confidence within the classroom; this will also allow me to discover more issues or challenges and potentially uncover new points of interest for my own research.
With this being said, I believe small scale research would be beneficial for my own professional development. Within my final week at my training school, I intend to set aside 5 minutes at the end of my lessons and distribute short questionnaires to my students. These questionnaires will ask students to rate on a scale from one to five on areas such as my marking, homework tasks, fairness and how interesting my lessons were for them over the year. This will be followed by two open ended headings “What I liked” and “Advice/what I would change”, the aim of this is to seek ways to improve; importantly it will also allow a focus on what students enjoyed. This gives chance to appreciate what I have done well over the year, rather than purely focussing on negatives or areas to change.
The data will not be analysed as meticulously as my assessed university work, however it will still be collated in a similar manner; to look for patterns or general trends. Starting a new school in September, I believe conducting research of this manner could prove to be invaluable in developing my own practice to best benefit my students. There is scope for this to be placed at various points over a year, or even over a career; had I thought of this sooner, I would have attempted to do this type of research at my complimentary placement school earlier in the academic year.
Being in the early stages of teaching or indeed any career, I believe you need to be incredibly open to change and should actively seek any ways possible to grow and improve. Having the chance to gather personalised feedback from my students is a fantastic opportunity that I intend to make the most of over my career and I believe should be something which is integrated into lessons wherever possible.
So ultimately, yes, I will engage in research during my NQT year and beyond, as I believe it holds scope to really benefit my professional practice. Small scale research of the kind aforementioned allows quality reflection on one’s practice, which then allows for maximum impact when implementing change, therefore giving scope to achieve the ultimate goal; to improving students’ learning.
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