GEMS is a three-year project that aims to improve both the way that research is used in schools and how schools’ use of evidence is researched.
A study in Australian schools has found that while 80% of educators state they ‘highly value’ keeping up-to-date with research, only 34% use it ‘often’ in practice*. This is consistent with the “hands on” experience of educators, who report that they find it difficult to access relevant research, and to implement practice that accords with the research.
GEMS aims to address this imbalance. The project will develop evidence-based resources on key topics in primary school literacy and numeracy, then examine a selection of professional learning models that build educators’ capacities to use that evidence. It will also investigate the key characteristics of effective use of evidence in schools.
The GEMS initiative 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 models that facilitate access to the research, and encourage the use of evidence in schools. The framework for evaluating evidence use will be made freely available by Evidence for Learning, as will an insights paper on the lessons that emerge from the project.
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) and Professor Jonathan Sharples (Education Endowment Foundation, UK) will provide guidance to the project.
Matthew Deeble, Director, Evidence for Learning says:
'As we are seeking to improve the learning impact educators have on students, we are especially proud and very excited by GEMS.
This project brings together a lot of our work on evidence creation, translation and mobilisation over the last four years. It will give teachers additional evidence-based resources and professional learning, and provide school leaders, researchers and policymakers critical insights about how schools engage with evidence.'
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. The final project outputs will be published in 2021.
*Prendergast, S., & Rickinson, M., (2018) ‘Understanding School Engagement in and with Research’, Catholic Education Melbourne.