Hampshire Teaching Schools Alliance: Becoming Research Teachers focused on improving Deep Learning Across Transitions

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 18.40.50The Hampshire Teaching Schools Alliance has formed a Networked Improvement Community with structured social arrangements which joins academic research, clinical practice and commercial expertise in sustained programmes of Design Educational Engineering and Development (Bryk et al 2010).  This is an approach to improvement which is being developed in education by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teacher Education

Pioneer Teaching School AllianceIt  offers a productive synthesis across the research-practice divide. It aims to meld the conceptual strength and methodological norms associated with traditional research  with the contextual specificity, deep clinical insight and practical orientation characteristic of action research.

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 18.44.52

Participants in a Networked Improvement Community endorse shared, precise, measureable targets which achieve a shared purpose.  They address shared,complex problems and participate in whole systems designing processes aimed at clarifying the problem/challenge/solution space. On the basis of rich data from this process they design interventions which may lead to improvement.  These interventions are rapidly prototyped, and  participants agree to use what is learned from working toward meeting the targets, to setting new targets aimed at ever more ambitious goals. In this regard, shared measureable targets help a community stay focused on its core purpose, from the community’s perspective. They catalyze discussions among participants as to why we should attend to this rather than that. They demand about what is likely to afford more immediate progress.  They introduce discipline in priority setting as it interacts with the individualistic rhetoric of “I am interested in…”

The problem identified in the HTSA NIC is the problem of student progress in learning and achievement across key transitions.

Our shared understanding of the problem we are seeking to address is that we lack a common approach to teaching, learning and assessment across transitions. Specifically we tend to:nsitions in education. Throughout 2012/13 academic year, as well as setting in place the social arrangements, they have engaged in a systems analysis of the problem. This is presented in the first diagram below, Problem Solution Space. From here the potential solutions were identified in the second diagram: Driver Diagram.

  • create dependent learners
  • lack a shared language and repertoire of learning routines & practices
  • lack pro-active and shared rich student academic & learning assessment data
  • lack trust between teachers in different contexts
  • are influenced by anxiety about performance criteria

Our shared hypothesis:

If we focus on a common approach to developing self-directed learning and knowledge construction for students across the transitions then we will enable students to maintain progress in learning and performance because they will carry this competence into their new context, which will have key pedagogical characteristics in common with the one they have left.

Our shared purpose is: 

To design and implement approaches to teaching and learning which facilitate deep & self-directed learning in students which they carry across the transition, which is recognised and supported in the new context, and which leads to sustained progress and improved attainment.

In order to do this, our initial focus is on teacher professional learning – how we work together, harness our collective intelligence and learn across the Alliance. We work creatively within a common, disciplined framework with shared design principles.

Design Principles

(Key practices which are (i) disciplined and pervasive characteristics of our shared approach to pedagogy, (ii) evidence based and (iii) communicated to our communities in many different ways)

Developing Deep & Self-Directed Learning through

  • a shared language for learning and knowledge construction
  • a common approach to teaching as learning design
  • a common set of assessment strategies – using rich data
  • a common set of values which pervade the learning environments
  • authentic pedagogy for deep engagement

Project Methodology

A shared question  & a context specific response

#Each Project will make a unique contribution to addressing the question of what type of pedagogical practices  contribute to the development of deep and self-directed learning across the transition.

Who will we work with?

Each project team works collaboratively with a year group before and after the transition (for example year 5 and year 7)  using the rapid prototype methodology based on the Plan Do Study Act cycle.

A rapid prototype is a short, small project (24 weeks) designed and implemented by the teacher/researchers following the Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle. It addresses all or some of the project’s shared design principles but in a way which is appropriate for that particular context. It is evaluated locally – and using disciplined metrics which are agreed by the whole group. Eventually the project will harvest the learning from all the prototypes, which can be scaled up across the communities.

There will be two prototypes, one between December and March and the second between April and June. The second one is improved in the light of the evaluation of the first one.  Each project team is responsible for designing and implementing their own research project, including data collection and analysis methods and presentation of findings.  Two project workshops will provide a collaborative learning event for each cycle where each group presents their findings – what works, and key concepts.  These will be synthesised & shared for improvements in the next prototypes.

Each prototype will contribute its learning to the whole via the Evidence Hub in the form of stories of significant change, videos, etc.  Each project will have an academic critical friend from a local University. Each project will adopt the Ten Up methodology across the cohort.  From the target year group, focus on 10 students to study in depth as case studies for professional learning, whilst the whole year group benefits from the intervention.  These students could also provide case studies for students in the partner HEIs who need data and can add value.

Overall Disciplined Evaluation Framework

Each project will commit to working with the shared, disciplined evaluation framework for the whole project.  As well as contributing equally to the whole project systems designing and solutions space, they will agreed to collect and provide data which will be used to evaluate the project as a whole, over the four year lifecyle.  This whole project data is designed to measure the target outcome which is ‘student self-directed learners’ and the relationship between this outcome measure and student progress across transitions. It will also enable the project to idenfity a ‘control group’ in another teaching schools alliance elsewhere in the UK if appropriate, which is not addressing the problem of transitions in this way.

Learning to Achieve  is a handbook for teachers who want to understand more about implementing learning power.

About the author

Ruth Deakin Crick

LearningEmergence.net Copyright © 2015