FE Project Outcomes
Project Outcomes from research ending September 2010.
Project Outcomes from the last stage of research ending July 2011.
There have been a number of key outcomes that have emerged from conversations as INSETs, residential and in the case studies. These include:
· There have been many benefits for students including improved skills, learning dispositions, metacognitive awareness, retention and success rates across case studies.
· The inherent value of the practitioner enquiry process – systematic enquiry made public (Stenhouse 1981) – for supporting the teachers’ own CPD (the enquiry supports them in questioning practice and strategically moving it forward) while also starting to change the culture of the institution to a focus on learning (the emphasis on sharing findings and talking about impact has facilitated a move towards a more cohesive vision of what effective learning looks like and how it can be achieved)
· The teachers involved in the project are becoming effective learning role models as well as teachers
· The project has generated the space and motivation for the teachers to have evidence based conversations about learning and importantly this has occurred within and beyond institutions
· The teachers are increasingly engaged in and with research and this is having a positive producing improved theorised practice.
· The partner teachers are showing increased motivation, confidence and resilience in the face of change; over the last year this has been extremely important for the sector and the profession.
· Being part of the wider network with school, FE and HE teachers has provided opportunities for conversations about the process of making learning explicit. This has enabled greater clarity around what makes an effective learner across all learning trajectories and has started to generate a better understanding in the partner institutions about a commonality of approach which can support this development,
· The network has shown the legitimacy and value of teaching and learning practice developed in the FE sector. It has demonstrated the potential for transfer of practice into schools and HE institutions and vice versa. More inclusive networks that support conversations and sharing of good practice across the sectors are needed.
Eight case study write-ups were completed by teachers. These have been produced as reports and as summary posters, with both being used as part of the dissemination events and available for download with other network outputs on the Campaign for Learning’s website.
Analysis of the individual action research projects demonstrated impact on learners, both students and teachers, in terms of engagement, attitudes and dispositions to learning. Specific case studies show impact on student attendance (e.g. Helen, Northumberland), engagement (e.g. Sheila, Northumberland; Michelle, Northumberland) and attainment (e.g. Helen, Northumberland). In the example below impact on dispositions and habits of minds of learners were seen,
This programme was designed to involve a lot of activities, discussions and reflections as a means of developing a deeper understanding of the diversity of all learners and what can be incorporated to improve the learning experience for everyone involved as one learner stated that ‘ Teachers need to understand you to help you do things better’. (Theresa Thornton)
There were also case studies that focused on the professional learning of colleagues within the college:
… the formative processes in preparation for inspection are as important as the ‘real thing’ and help to develop teachers’ reflection, resilience and resourcefulness. Most teachers that had consistently performed to a ‘good to better’ standard previously maintained or improved their good practice attributed this to being reflective, resilient and resourceful and strong team work. (Jayne Morgan, Colin Haikin and Mark Young)
The participating teachers found it worthwhile to be involved in the project. This is demonstrated by the case studies completed, often during turbulent times for particular individuals, and the involvement of colleagues from the two colleges in the dissemination events. Extracts from the Learning through research and The role of L2L sections of the case studies are indicative of the value these practitioners place on being involved in research and the benefits they see for their practice:
The project has quantified the benefits of reflection for improving achievement and reflective activity was integral to the research. L2L prompted this focus on reflection (Jillian Rees)
I feel as though I am in a constant cycle of personal and professional learning and development which is assisting with understanding the diversity of the learning process and learners which can only improve both my practice as a teacher educator and also my role as learning and teaching co-ordinator within the college (Theresa Thornton)
There is also evidence in this section of the case studies of practitioners seeking to extend or develop the approach they have taken. For example, Michelle Tait asked: “Would this work across a curriculum area involving the teaching staff and the learners?”
Furthermore there are suggestions within the case studies of particular action research leading to wider developments within the colleges involved:
This research project has also in part led to the College considering changes to the Berwick centre to make it a more learner friendly environment. (Helen Handyside)
Our involvement in this process of research through all three cycles has been a journey of discovery about how teachers learn in relation to their continuous professional development. We have questioned, challenged and enhanced our quality assurance processes and quality improvement strategy (Jayne Morgan, Colin Haikin and Mark Young)
Thinking about learning developments include initial discussions regarding the role the new learning mentors and the possibility of them being available to deliver learning to learn sessions working alongside teaching staff and the Learning and Teaching Co-ordinator to develop learners understanding of themselves and the learning process throughout the study programmes. Some of the teaching staff who have been involved in the research project are already planning to include learning to learn sessions into their vocational areas with the support of the Learning and Teaching Co-ordinator. A learning and teaching staff handbook has been produced which identifies and discusses the importance of focusing on incorporating learning to learning into the curriculum and offers strategies of how to do so. The college leadership team have strengthened their commitment to improving the quality of learning and teaching by creating the role of learning and teaching co-ordinator which is a new full - time post with the responsibility of improving the learning across the whole college.
As a result of Lewisham College’s involvement in the project, a large amount of interest has been generated throughout the organisation and our learners will see the immediate impact of this interest. For example, it is anticipated that formal learn to learn qualifications at Level 1 and Level 2 will be rolled out across the college within the six Curriculum areas. The embedding of meta-cognitive development for all our learners is also now fully embedded in the Lewisham College Induction Toolkit, where an integrated approach is taken with Learner Support. In terms of staff development and therefore sustainability, Learn to Learn is now fully integrated in the our LSBU-accredited Level 7 Mentoring Programme and the “5R’s” are mentioned as a key tenet within the Lewisham College Staff Development Strategy.