Getting Evidence Moving in Schools (GEMS) is a three-year project that aims to improve both the way that research is used in schools as well as the way schools’ use of evidence is researched.
The project will develop evidence-based resources on key topics in primary school literacy and numeracy, and then examine different professional learning models that build educators’ capacity to use the evidence in those resources. It will also investigate the key characteristics of effective use of evidence in schools.
Why are we doing it?
Two challenges have been identified in terms of understanding evidence-informed teaching in Australian schools:
Research is not well used
The use of research is not well researched
80% of educators in a study of Victorian schools said they ‘highly value’ keeping up-to-date with research, but only 34% use it ‘often’ in practice.
Furthermore, we don’t know enough about:
Conditions in which research ‘lands’ in schools
Integration with teaching practice
The best tools to support teachers to use evidence
The most effective ways to engage with evidence
Barriers to teachers engaging with research or not using research well, could be due to an overload of information and teacher load in Australia. More than 1.5 million peer-reviewed papers are published annually for Australian educators to sift through, without being contextualized to individual needs. Moreover, teachers in Australia have one of the highest teaching loads amongst OECD countries1 in terms of preparation time and teaching time. The flow-on effect is leaving very little time to use and engage with research.
The GEMS research investigation aims to:
- Produce evidence-based resources on literacy and numeracy;
- Document the key features of professional learning that help to mobilise evidence;
- Explore how professional learning is implemented in schools to help mobilise evidence; and
- Explore conditions that support effective mobilisation of evidence including general aspects of a schools’ context such as school leadership, school adoption of professional learning processes, system support and student demographics.
Who is involved?
GEMS involves 30 primary schools across NSW and Victoria, and three professional learning providers: Agile Schools (NSW), Training 24/7 (in partnership with the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, NSW Department of Education) and EdPartnerships International (in partnership with the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership, Victoria).
Monash University Faculty of Education will develop the research framework and the Centre for Evidence and Implementation will use this framework to investigate the features of the resources and the professional learning model that encourage evidence use in schools.
A steering group consisting of representatives from the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership (part of the Victorian Department of Education and Training), the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (part of the NSW Department of Education) and Evidence for Learning will oversee the project.
Australian and international experts, including Associate Professor Mark Rickinson (Monash University Faculty of Education), Philippa Cordingley (Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education, UK) and Professor Jonathan Sharples (Education Endowment Foundation, UK) will provide guidance to the project.
How is it funded?
Social Ventures Australia’s Evidence for Learning initiative was a joint winner of the inaugural Eureka Benevolent Foundation Education Prize. The prize, which funds 3 to 5 year projects that have the potential for widespread positive impact on education for disadvantaged students, is awarded on a competitive basis. This Evidence for Learning project is funded by the prize proceeds.
What will be published from the project report?
A Research Framework that synthesises international literature from education and other fields, to define and measure effective evidence use in schools;
An Investigation Paper to summarise the research investigation including the research protocol, results, insights and implications; and
An Insights Paper and supporting materials for practitioners to capture and convey the project’s lessons on the effective use of evidence to inform teaching and professional learning
When will it be published?
The final project outputs will be published in 2021.
1OECD (2018), Teaching hours (indicator). doi: 10.1787/af23ce9b-en
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