fostering autonomy and agency through research: a multi-faceted approach to teaching and learning
This presentation will cover the principles of being a research-engaged school drawing from our experiences at Eton. We will argue that being research-engaged does not only entail conducting action research but also the need to be a reflective practitioner with the ability to understand and be able to act on pupil difficulties (Hattie, 2009), as being able to identify problems and search for answers through interrogating and evaluating research can be an invaluable asset for teachers. Moreover, being a research-engaged school also encompasses facilitating the processes for teachers to be self-improving practitioners: to be informed about research and scholarship in teaching, to engage in and with research and to be consumers of research, and to be equipped to conduct their own research (BERA-RSA, 2014). Similarly, Bragg and Fielding (2005:105) make the case for collaborative enquiry within schools as a democratising process, which involves sharing and distributing leadership and encouraging all members of the school to be active ‘enquirers’. This, they suggest, should involve students; for ‘without the involvement of the students it is not possible to enquire effectively either into the learning and teaching processes or into the school itself’ (ibid.). This, therefore, is an argument of autonomy and agency as much as one of providing the methodological tools for conducting such inquiry.
Dr Iro Konstantinou is the Researcher-in-Residence at Eton College, based at the Tony Little Centre for the Innovation and Research in Learning. Her role focuses on facilitating evidence-based teaching and learning and engaging in discussions of educational research among schools. She has recently completed her PhD in Sociology, at the University of Warwick. As part of her research she conducted an ethnography in an educational setting.
Jonnie Noakes is Head of Teaching and Learning at Eton and the Director of The Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning, a centre for pedagogical excellence, evidence-informed practice and research into teaching, learning and leadership in education. An English teacher, he led two departments concurrently at Eton and at the London Academy of Excellence and has published fourteen texts on contemporary novels. He is a governor of a number of state and independent schools, an editorial board member of the Chartered College of Teaching’s new journal Impact, and a member of the global research committee of the International Boys’ School Coalition.