Teachers as Researchers: Using Evidence-based Practice in the Singapore Classroom

Project Number
OER 09/09 SMR

Project Duration
September 2009 - February 2012

Status
Completed

Abstract
The ability to share lessons learned through applied consultation, assessment, and intervention experiences is essential for the advancement of the fields of teacher education and special education. The proposed project will evaluate the process of collaborative problem solving within a consultation model where the researchers serve as coaches to teachers and help evaluate the interventions and assessment techniques implemented throughout that process. Traditionally educational research has focused on pupil outcomes as the dependent variable with little emphasis on what teachers do instructionally. Maheady et al (2004) propose a new way of viewing education research with what teachers do instructionally as the independent variable. The key outcomes of the Maheady et al’s study was that preservice teachers could implement an evidence-based strategy with a high degree of accuracy using a workshop format supplemented with in-class assistance and ongoing procedural feedback. However, there is limited information on whether in-service teachers are actually using evidence-based practices in their classrooms and, if so, to what extent. More specific to the Singaporean context, teacher trainees at both the pre-service and in-service levels are exposed to some of the teaching practices through information provided in textbooks and lectures at NIE. However, there is little clarity on how these practices or strategies are actually implemented. Training teachers to use the classroom-based practices and equipping them to train their colleagues, thereby building teacher capacity, is one of the biggest contributions of this project to teachers’ professional development. Historically, randomized experimental group designs have been considered as the “gold standard” for addressing research questions in education (Odom et al., 2005). The Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) Division for Research’s task force identified single-subject research (SSR) methodology, among three others, and established quality indicators for each methodology providing guidelines for how each methodology would contribute to the effectiveness of practices in special education. SSR methodology is experimental in nature and its primary purpose is to document functional (or causal) relationships between the independent and dependent variables. In contrast to group designs where a student’s performance falls under the aggregate of the group, single-subject research focuses on the individual student as the unit of analysis. The novelty and timeliness of the proposed study lies in the use of this methodology to systematically evaluate teachers’ evidence-based practices and their direct effects on student outcomes. The project will be piloted in one primary school and one secondary school with scope to scale up to more schools in the future.

Research Themes
Teacher Learning/PLCs/Lesson Studies

Funding Source
NIE

Related Links
ReEd Vol 3: When Teachers become Classroom Researchers

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