Research on teachers and technology for teaching and learning

Rear view of teenage students raising hands in classroom

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has announced the successful awardees of the education research programme.

The awardees will explore new approaches to attracting and developing teachers, and the use of technology for teaching and learning.

A £5.3 million fund will support a total of 9 projects. The research evidence gathered as part of the programme will inform policymaking and practice, leading to better outcomes for children and their families.

Projects will be led by a range of research institutions working in partnership with other stakeholder groups across the 4 nations of the UK.

Understanding how education is changing

The programme will build on previous ESRC investment in research on the impact of digital working by exploring the use of technology in schools.

By rethinking the approach to teaching in a post-lockdown, more digitally connected world, this work aims to inform new, more impactful ways of teaching which integrate technology into the classroom.

Other projects focus on gaining a better understanding of how teaching and learning is changing, with particular reference to improving teacher education, recruitment and retention.

Addressing key contemporary issues

The funded projects cover a wide range of contemporary issues in education, including:

  • approaches to improving the recruitment, retention, education and development of specific groups, including ethnic minority teachers and school leaders
  • the use of technology in schools and how it can reinforce or reconfigure existing educational and social inequities
  • the role of digital and innovative technologies in:
    • recruiting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) undergraduates into teacher education
    • improving foreign language teachers’ knowledge, skills, confidence, motivation, and job satisfaction
  • digital citizenship and data ethics challenges in the classroom
  • children’s participation rights in pedagogical practice to inform teachers’ professional development

The research begins in early December and projects will run for up to 3 years.

Informing education policy and practice

Under the leadership of its director, Professor Gemma Moss, the programme is designed to support partnership working between researchers, practitioners and policymakers in different parts of the UK. They will develop lasting networks that can identify and promote key strategic aims for future education research.

Professor Gemma Moss, Director of the education research programme, said:

This is an exciting opportunity for the education research community to work in partnership with other stakeholders and find new ways of tackling some long-lasting challenges in school-based education.

The programme recognises the devolved nature of education in the UK and in this context is looking to develop stronger links between research, policy and practice that can generate new insights relevant to local contexts.

Achieving ESRC objectives

This investment contributes to the ‘digital society’ priority area of investment in ESRC’s 2022 to 2025 delivery plan.

It also contributes to the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) strategic theme of creating opportunities and improving outcomes (further details in the UKRI 5 year strategy).

Professor Alison Park, ESRC Interim Executive Chair, said:

Through the education research programme, ESRC is funding important new research that will generate insights and help address ongoing challenges for the UK’s compulsory education systems, including how to attract, educate and retain excellent teachers, and how to adopt and harness the benefits of new technologies.

The programme will support both teachers and children by tackling issues such as resilience, participation, recruitment, training and retention. The research will use the power of social science to generate a range of exciting outputs that have the potential to directly transform UK education and create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment.

Further information

Full list of successful funded projects as part of the latest round of funding

Teaching for digital citizenship: digital ethics in the classroom and beyond it

Led by Dr David Lundie at the University of Glasgow

This project will employ a range of approaches to understand the ways digital citizenship and data ethics challenges are understood. It will also use these approaches to understand how responses to these issues are taken up across the curriculum and wider life schools.

The resulting resources, together with a report making recommendations for teacher educators, school leaders, examination authorities and policymakers across the UK, will furnish an integrated cross-curricular digital citizenship strategy.

Rethinking teacher recruitment: new approaches to attracting prospective STEM teachers

Led by Professor Robert Klassen at the University of York

This project will use innovative technologies to improve our understanding of the attraction and recruitment of STEM undergraduates into initial teacher education. This research addresses a chronic problem in England, one that weakens the teacher workforce and drains economic resources.

The project is based on developing and testing new digital recruitment tools, with the aim of increasing the flow of STEM students into initial teacher education.

Enhancing teacher agency with technology: creating an ecological model through a place-based study of teaching and learning

Led by Professor John Gordon at the University of East Anglia

This project will advance understanding of teacher agency with technology for teaching and learning.

The project aims to understand how teachers’ choices and actions are affected by the conditions they work in, to support the use of technology to improve their experiences. Through a place-based study the team will work to improve agency of teachers and influence policy making.

Embedding children’s participation rights in pedagogical practice in lower primary classrooms in Wales

Gwreiddio hawliau cyfranogiad plant mewn arferion addysgol yn ystafelloedd dosbarth cynradd is yng Nghymru

Led by Dr Sarah Chicken at the University of the West of England

Dan arweiniad Dr Sarah Chicken ym Mhrifysgol Gorllewin Lloegr

This project will investigate the translation of education policy into the classroom, focusing on young children aged 5 to 7 years, in the school context. This project considers how teaching practices can embed participatory rights for all children, and attend, routinely, to children’s voice and agency. The project aims to establish practices that embed young children’s rights in the context of lower primary classrooms in Wales.

Bydd y prosiect hwn yn ymchwilio i drosglwyddiad polisi addysg i’r ystafell ddosbarth, gan ganolbwyntio ar blant ifanc 5-7 oed, yng nghyd-destun yr ysgol. Mae’r prosiect hwn yn ystyried sut y gall arferion addysgu ymgorffori hawliau cyfranogol ar gyfer pob plentyn, a thalu sylw, fel mater o drefn, i lais ac asiantaeth plant. Nod y prosiect yw sefydlu arferion sy’n ymgorffori hawliau plant ifanc yng nghyd-destun ystafelloedd dosbarth cynradd is yng Nghymru.

Decentring the ‘resilient teacher’: exploring interactions between individuals and their social ecologies

Led by Dr Stephanie Ainsworth at Manchester Metropolitan University

This project will investigate the concept of teacher resilience with the aim of creating more resilient environments for teachers at local, regional and national levels. It will adopt an approach which views resilience not as something which resides solely within the teacher, but as a product of their environment and their workplace interactions.

Training materials and an online course will be generated, promoted and made available for teacher education networks, student teachers and UK universities.

Towards equity focused approaches to EdTech: a socio-technical perspective

Led by Professor Rebecca Eynon at University of Oxford

This project will investigate use of technology in schools and the ways it can reinforce or reconfigure existing educational and social inequities.

The study will include rich ethnographic work in schools, futures workshops, and the creation of open educational resources. It aims to change the way that the use of digital technology in schools is thought about, promoted and designed to inform future equity focused approaches to digital interventions in education.

Investigating the recruitment and retention of ethnic minority teachers and its relationship to school outcomes

Led by Professor Stephen Gorard at Durham University

This project will analyse and help to explain disparities in ethnic minority representation in the teaching workforce, and the impact of these on education, providing advice of improving the situation where needed.

It will analyse official government workforce and students data, review and synthesise international evidence on effective measures to attract and retain ethnic minority teachers. It will also conduct a nationwide survey with in-depth case studies of schools on the barriers and facilitators faced by schools in recruiting and retaining teachers.

Sustainable school leadership: comparing approaches to the training, supply and retention of senior school leaders across the UK

Led by Professor Toby Greany at The University of Nottingham

This project will develop a deeper understanding of approaches to the supply, training and retention of senior school leaders for primary and secondary schools. It will also offer a vision for how these can be enhanced.

The study will include interviews with policymakers and leadership development experts, secondary analysis of existing datasets, place-based case studies and surveys of leaders. Comparative findings and recommendations will be disseminated to research, policy and practice audiences, including through web-based resources that can be used to enhance local and national leadership succession planning.

Digital empowerment in language teaching (DELTEA)

Led by Dr Alison Porter at the University of Southampton with Professor Suzanne Graham at the University of Reading

The project will investigate the role of digital technology in improving teachers’ language knowledge and classroom skills, their ability to enhance pupil language and literacy skills and other areas of teaching.

It will develop and test a digital professional development (DPD) programme for primary foreign language teachers in England and Scotland. It will also establish the mechanisms through which any changes for teachers and learners occur. And the project will work with DPD teachers to create and evaluate a scaled-up, peer-supported version of the DPD programme, which will be rolled out to all 4 UK nations.

Top image:  Credit: Caiaimage/Chris Ryan, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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