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If you're a D&T teacher, you're probably already doing some education research; this week I talk about how practitioner research aligns with design practice.
Mentioned in this episode
Writing programme for D&T teachers:
How to write about your D&T practice
Roberts, P., 2001. Aspects of research concerning design education. Design and technology educational research and curriculum development: the emerging international research agenda, p.10.
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In the last month or so, I've had the privilege to be working with a group of teachers who have done some research and I'm supporting them in publishing it. I've mentioned this before Christmas, where I'm working with them and working as a group to take their work and publish it for the PATT 39 Conference, which is happening in Canada, and online in June. I really enjoy this kind of work. It's sort of my bread and butter in my day job when I lead the Masters in Education at Nottingham Trent in terms of supporting practising teachers, and practising educationalists in how do they do research maybe about their practice or an aspect of of their work that helps them or other people within their field, change the way they think and what they do. Jo Chidgey, and I may want to pronounced her name wrong. So I apologise in advance Jo has done some research in her classroom, based using the model of action research. And I think as you taught, as I talk, you'll, you'll see how this practice of research and particularly action research that Jo did really relate to maps to, as Phil Roberts talks about it to our design practice, and very much what people teach in design and technology education to children around iterative design. So I think there's something really powerful about practitioners doing research about their practice. So I did my research about my practice, I did a number of different parts as part of my master's when I was at Sheffield Hallam. And but one of them the final piece was I was looking at pedagogical approaches to use with CAD CAM. It was at a time back in 2002, that sort of period when CAD CAM was really becoming embedded in the curriculum. Now I know for many of you listening that's way before your time, but it was really cutting edge back in the early 2000s. And what I was seeing a lot of was the projects that I could teach, but not necessarily how I could teach you how do I work within this classroom to improve the learning for the children I was teaching. And so that meant that my research project was about my practice. But I recognise that it wasn't just me that had these questions. And it wasn't just me definitely there have these answers. So I used a technique called the Delphi technique where I actually asked teachers what they thought the issues were and what the solutions were about, how do we teach CAD CAM in D&T lessons? And then I collated all of their responses, and then sent them back to them and said, do you agree if I missed anything? Do you want to add anything? So that's kind of like part of the Delphi technique. I didn't do that, too deeply. I was kind of just learning about this approach. And but it was it was useful for me to get some consensus, but also some corrective response. And so from their responses, I then went back to the literature, and also looked for what others were writing about, where was pedagogy that I could use that could be used to respond to some of these issues? And then I also talked to teachers about well, how do you address these? What do you do in your D&T lessons. And then from that, I came up with some strategies, and some teachers tried those out. And I tried them out in my practice and evaluated them. So that was kind of a very, kind of, for me quite tidy way of doing something in my design and technology project practice that was about pedagogy. How do I teach the subject that's much about what to do I teach your project, or what knowledge am I teaching? But actually, how do we do this? You know, how do we address some of these logistical, practical issues around numbers of computers? How do we address children working at different paces on different screens? And we can't necessarily see them? And what what does talk to other Dean teachers think of the issues do they agree with me to make with each other they have other ideas? And do they have ideas about how they can solve them? And then can we try some of these ideas out that people have said and also that that's in the literature, what other people are researching and that there wasn't a lot around. So that was a really practitioner led project. And then just This project is equally practitioner led, she sets it really clearly in the context of her school and what was going on in her school. She was trying to address the decline or status of design and technology. In her school, she wanted to, to change that. She says that D&T was in a perilous position. So this is, this is where it really is about practitioners about something that's happening. It's real to the person who's doing the research. So if you're thinking about doing D&T research, and you're probably doing some of this already, think about what what are the challenges that I'm facing in my D&T lesson, or in my school around design and technology? What and so Joe was exploring what could she do, and actually, what she decided to do was taken into departmental approach across a number of different departments in her school, to do some joint work about developing technological capability, or the children's technological capability. And she did it on a couple of cycles. So she tried the project out once evaluated, it, tried it out again. So you can hear that iterative process. Let's test it, let's, let's evaluate it, let's modify it. Let's go back and, and we can go round and round on these repeated cycles. But each time we go around, we're progressing. We're kind of spiralling up. And maybe, maybe things are getting better, or maybe other issues are coming to light as we're doing it. And we can see how we do that. In in design practice as well as classroom practice. And in the field of educational research. It's called action research, action research happens in other fields, but I'm talking about it in education, this idea of what's what's the issue, what do we want to resolve try out? Let's design this intervention, this thing that we're going to try out, let's try it out. And let's evaluate it. Doesn't that sound like designing? So I suppose what I'm also trying to say here is if you're a D&T teacher, and you're thinking I can't do research, well, actually, you've got a model for it in what you teach and what you do with the children that you're teaching about this process. But the thing that makes all of these things kind of give them a rigour is, is that is the critique. And that's what I think we do really well in design. And technology is putting together some criteria with which to critique and use to evaluate the effectiveness of the product, the intervention or the process. So when you as a D&T teacher, or somebody is interested in D&T, is thinking about, or listening to me talking about research or reading research or seeing it as something else over there, you actually might want to stop and think, actually, I do it, I do it here. I do it in a real way. The key thing is, is to have that frame of critique and knowing what the criteria is that you're going to use to evaluate how do we know if this thing is successful. And one of the things we do when we're teaching children is we get them to write a specification that it's kind of a summary document of, of the research, when they've looked at other things, watched people talk to people looked at other products, they have a design specification that kind of leads them on to the design. But it's the same thing. When we're doing action research like Joe did. We have the problem. And we do some research. And that research, in the context of education, research and action research is looking at what other people have done, what other projects, what other things they've researched and tested and tried out. And writing a specification. So if that's what people have found out, and that's what people have discovered, what are the key things I want to take from that into me designing the thing that I want to try out to make a difference to my practice. And then we design this intervention, this change in our classrooms? And then using that design specification, we can start to evaluate it as well. Does it do what we want it to do? Did it change the things, we might evaluate it by questionnaires or observations, looking at children's work, or whatever? And then we can tweak it again, we can try it the next time because we've learned from that evaluation as we repeatedly do that. We're an action research cycle of taking action, and evaluating and reflecting and modifying and taking action, reflecting, evaluating, modifying and so on, which is exactly what happens in a rigorous iterative, excuse me, iterative design process. So that's just something for you to think about. Is how do I, how do I dip my toe in the water about research? Well, you look at your practice. You look at your practice and you think, what do I want to change? What needs to get better? What needs to be resolved? What do I want to try out? And how am I going to do that? Okay, how do I, how would I design that? Okay, what's my, what's my design brief? What do other people say? What do other educational researchers designers say? What have they tried? Okay, let's summarise what they've tried. Let's design something. Okay, how we're going to know whether this design works. Let's write some evaluation criteria. Now let's test it. And let's evaluate it. And then let's make it better. And then let's repeat. So that's a very simple way that you can start thinking about research in your classrooms in your practice, to try things out. I'm going to talk about the Delphi technique in another podcast, because that links to the next stage of what me and Eddie are doing around this series of books about redesigning design and technology. I'll put a link in the show notes to the LinkedIn group around that. And I'll also put a link in the show notes to some work around action research that people can have a look at. So I'm meeting with these teachers, it's really exciting. It's been it's been really good fun to, to hear what they're talking about. And they're they're really enthusiasm. They're going to be hopefully presenting at the Pac Conference in in June, we've got some things happening before them. If you sign up to my newsletter, you'll you'll have heard about some of those and how you can get involved. So please do look out for that. And if you are doing any action research in your classrooms, and please do let me know I'm always interested to hear about what you're doing, there is a growing search from people outside the D&T community looking in to try and find the research that we're doing. So this is your opportunity to share that as well. So do do listen out for other conversations that I'm having around doing research in the classroom that we're coming up. There are promised last week that I was going to start sharing the reviews that I get for the podcast. And well, there's only one so far on Apple podcasts. And it was a while back, but I am going to share it because it made me feel good when I read it. So somebody written that the podcast is a fantastic Listen, even for those experienced D and T teachers out there. So that's really nice. Thank you very much. S Brit 21, whoever you are, thank you for the review. If you do enjoy the podcast, please do consider writing a review and leaving some feedback because it does help other people find the podcast. There's a whole back catalogue of now 8788 episodes for you to listen to. There's some guest host podcasts coming up in the next few months. So it is an evolving space and the feedback does help. So yeah, please post a you might find you get a name check on the podcast at some point in the future. As usual, thanks for listening. Do you have a look at the show notes and do look out for me shouting out about things that I'm doing around research on my newsletter and on social media.