Impact of Research Learning Communities on pupil achievement in reading

An evaluation led by Jo Rose at the University of Bristol and published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) looks at the impact of Research Learning Communities (RLC) on pupil achievement in reading at Key Stage 2 and teachers’ awareness, understanding, and use of research.

As part of a randomised controlled trial involving 199 schools, 60 primary schools were allocated to the treatment condition for the RLC intervention delivered by a team of academics from the Institute of Education at University College London. Two teachers from each of the schools involved in the trial were designated “Evidence Champions”. They attended four RLC workshops in which they discussed research with academic experts and colleagues from other schools. The Evidence Champions were then required to develop school improvement strategies using their learnings from the workshops, and to support other teachers in their schools to engage with research.

While the results of the evaluation showed some evidence that being in an RLC increased teachers’ engagement with research, there appeared to be no evidence that the RLC intervention led to improvements in reading outcomes for 10- and 11-year-olds, compared with the control group (effect size =+0.02). However, there was evidence that there may be some relationship between how engaged teachers are with research and the achievement of their students, regardless of any involvement in the RLC.

Source: Research Learning Communities (December 2017), Education Endowment Foundation

Disseminating research to make a difference in classrooms

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published the results of its Literacy Octopus trials – named after their multi-armed design – which looked at the impact of research dissemination on achievement in schools.

More than 13,000 primary schools across England were involved in the trials (823 schools in the first trial and 12,500 in the second trial), which drew on a wide range of evidence-based resources and events designed to support the teaching and learning of literacy at Key Stage 2. These included printed and online research summaries (including this Best Evidence in Brief e-newsletter), evidence-based practice guides, webinars, face-to-face professional development events and access to online tools.

The first trial tested whether sending schools high-quality evidence-based resources in a range of different formats would have an impact on pupil outcomes. The second trial tested whether combining the provision of resources with “light-touch” support on how to use them would have greater impact. Some schools were simply sent evidence-based resources, while others received the resources along with simple additional support, such as invitations to seminars on applying the resources in the classroom. As well as pupil outcomes, this trial also measured teachers’ use of research to measure the impact on teacher behaviour.

Neither of the Literacy Octopus trials found evidence of improved literacy achievement at Key Stage 2 for pupils whose teachers took part in the trials compared with the control group. The second trial found no increase in teachers’ use of, or engagement with, research. The results suggest that, in general, light-touch interventions and resources alone are unlikely to make a difference.

Source: The Literacy Octopus: Communicating and engaging with research (December 2017), The Education Endowment Foundation

Leading research engagement in education

The Coalition for Evidence-based Education (CEBE) has published guidance to help teachers, co-ordinators, support staff and leaders in education organisations who want to make more effective use of research evidence. It draws on recent evidence about the process of engaging with research and makes suggestions about some of the resources available to help.

The publication includes examples from schools and colleges, and offers guidance on:

  • Reasonable expectations
  • Preparing for research engagement
  • Phases of development
  • Leading research engagement across an organisation
  • Sources of evidence and support

Source: Leading research engagement in education: guidance for organisational change (March 2017), The Coalition for Evidence-based Education (CEBE) project team.