Publications, reports, and articles.

Teachers’ engagement with published research - how do teachers who read research navigate the field, what do they read, and why (2023)

By:
Posted on:
August 28, 2023

Abstract:

This project sought to uncover the reported practices and attitudes towards published research of English language teachers who reported reading or being interested in research and research-oriented publications. The author writes that "the voices, experiences, and perspectives of teachers themselves" tend to be missing from much of the literature on this topic. He aimed to give voice to and learn from these ‘research-interested’ teachers in this report: "the project examined the role of research publications and research-oriented literature in the teachers’ professional lives and in the development of their professional understandings and practices."

"It examined those factors which facilitated or created a barrier to such engagement, and additionally sought to uncover those key areas of research that the teachers saw as priorities, or of particular relevance to themselves. It also explored how, from the teachers’ perspective, such research findings might be made more accessible within the field. Ultimately, therefore, the project sought to find out how, from the standpoint of those teachers who are interested in engaging with research and research-oriented publications, the often-problematic relationship between research and practice in English language teaching (ELT) might start to be addressed."

Why it matters

There is a tremendous amount of research being done and available (although many times behind academic paywalls) that doesn't seem to impact Immigrant and Refugee-focused services. This report focuses on English language training, but is relevant for a wider sector audience. The main question it seeks to answer is why is there a "breakdown in the ‘interface’ and ‘dialogue’ between research and practice?"

Core research questions

The main section of the report seeks to answer these questions:

  • To what extent do the teachers report that they read research – in both its original published form and in other research-oriented professional literature?
  • What reasons do the teachers give for this level of engagement with research publications? Why do they say they read research? What do they report as discouraging or preventing them from doing so?
  • What topics and issues do the teachers themselves prioritize as potential focuses for research and research publications in ELT?
  • How might research publications and findings be made more relevant and accessible to English language teachers?

What did the researcher do?

The project adopted a mixed-method research design combining quantitative and qualitative approaches:

  • an online survey first collected quantitative data about teachers’ practices and priorities from a global sample of ELT practitioners - 696 responses
  • qualitative data was collected via a series of semi-structured interviews with teachers - 15 interviews

What did the researcher find?

  • Research is primarily read to inform, develop, or confirm teaching practices.
  • While still a minority within the profession, significant numbers of English language teachers are interested in reading about or learning from research
  • These ‘research-interested’ teachers tend to be interested in research which seems to them to be practically oriented and aligns with their classroom concerns.
  • Professional newsletters and magazines were the most frequently read, alongside online blogs and summaries and were viewed much more positively and accessed more often than other sources
  • Cost, time and workload were seen as significant barriers to engaging with published research
  • Reading research was also seen as just one pathway towards professional development, and was part of a broader range of activities which included conference and workshop attendance, other forms of professional training such as webinars and online discussions, and conversations with colleagues and students

How can you use this research?

Researchers should find new and genuinely collaborative ways of talking to and working with teachers in ways which do not place additional burdens on teachers’ working lives. They should present findings through spoken presentations, short written summaries, posters, online forums and so forth, with research projects developed within a truly collaborative framework in which teachers and researchers cooperate to set research agendas, collect data, and co-author and disseminate findings.

Teachers should seek out both research and research relationships that ensure that research and how it is present is practically oriented and aligns with your classroom concerns. Access and encourage research that is primarily focused on informing, developing, or confirming your teaching practices.

Professional ELT organizations and associations, and communities of practice are most frequently accessed by teachers for research summaries and should include relevant summaries in their content and communication strategies.

Summary

This project sought to uncover the reported practices and attitudes towards published research of English language teachers who reported reading or being interested in research and research-oriented publications.
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