Put Teaching and Learning Under the Microscope
The Benefits of being a Laboratory Site
The evidence is clear - the best way of improving teaching and learning is to try something new. Experimentation, it turns out, is one of the keys to improving practice. This is true whether or not the experiment succeeds. The process, research evidence shows, is excellent professional development for the participants. So, by supporting evidence based development in your college or training setting, you get:
- improved teaching and learning;
- high quality, high value, low cost professional development;
- improved Ofsted grades*;
- your name in lights**; and
- the respect and admiration of your colleagues.
Now, you can't just try anything at random; there has to be system and structure - and it's a pretty good idea to start with approaches which build on previous evidence of successful strategies. Here is where CUREE can help you. We will:
- provide you with some evidence based starting points (or help you refine your own ideas to make sure they are workable);
- provide you with tools and resources to help you structure the work;
- visit you and work directly with the group of staff;
- provide you with other forms of indirect support (usually via telephone or email); and
- help you write up the experience for your own benefit and for dissemination to others in the sector
This works best with a group of practitioners (at least two and up to six) working together.
The support arrangements in a bit more detail
A member of the CUREE team will visit you (typically twice) over the course of the 'project'. Between visits we will be available to discuss developing practice, identify and forward details of relevant resources. We can also put you in touch with colleagues in other laboratory sites where we can see common interests and opportunities for mutual support.
The detail of the support approach will depend on where you are starting from and on your objectives. Typically, our starting point will be to discuss with you which practitioners it would be best to work with, and on what areas of professional learning. This discussion may well be in the context of your self-assessment reviews, strategic planning etc. The next step will be to meet with the practitioners themselves, introduce resources, discuss in detail how they will develop their practice and assess the outcomes. As colleagues try out new approaches we will be on hand to offer support via e-mail and telephone, and will liaise with you on progress. The final stage will be to meet again with practitioners at an appropriate time, to discuss their experience and outcomes, and prepare a final (short) case study report. CUREE staff are well experienced in supporting practitioners write up their enquiries, and can take on as much or as little of this burden as is appropriate in each individual case.
The project has been supported by funding from LSIS for two years so the pilot participants were provided with support at no charge (though they are expected to produce a short report for the benefit of other practitioners in the sector). The free programme is now full but we are able to offer the service to other colleges for a small fee.
Below are some links to the reports produced by previous Lab Site participants.
The Research Laboratory Sites project was developed in partnership with LSIS and has been funded by LSIS as part of its strategy in supporting research in and for the Further Education and Skills Sector
* involvement in this work will reflect favourably in Ofsted inspections but we cannot guarantee that this will actually directly improve your grades
** strictly speaking your work would be published by LSIS and CUREE and you may be invited to present it at events, conference etc