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Research to lift educational achievement


Research to lift educational achievement


A significant step in the government’s strategy of boosting student achievement through quality teaching was announced by Education Minister Trevor Mallard today.

“I am announcing today a raft of ground-breaking research projects that will be undertaken through partnerships between education research experts and teachers around the country.

“Our aim is to find out what works in terms of lifting student achievement, and then to apply those lessons in the real world so students do actually enjoy the benefits. "These new projects have been selected through the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative and will be an important part of our work in the early childhood, school and tertiary sectors.

“They’ll be a welcome addition to New Zealand’s existing educational research, and will be a rich resource for teachers," Trevor Mallard said.

“The initiative is part of the government’s investment in education and educational research, and reflects our commitment to significantly improve educational achievement through quality teaching.

“Through these projects we can build on teaching and learning knowledge by enhancing the links between educational research and teaching practices.

"Evidence from this research will be used to inform and make a difference to educational practice. All 13 projects selected in this first round are based on partnerships between researchers and teachers to ensure the outcomes are relevant, practical and usable.”

Trevor Mallard said the 13 projects to receive the new funding were selected from 180 expressions of interest.

“The strongly contested and rigorous process to select the final 13 reflects the depth of interest in educational research."

The New Zealand Council of Educational Research has been contracted to manage the programme on behalf of the Ministry of Education. A team of specialists in key areas of educational research will manage the initiative and assist the researchers.

A $1 million annual fund is available for this research, and funding for the 13 projects is expected to begin before the end of the year. There will be a call for expressions of interest for the second year of funding in May 2004.

Short descriptions of the 13 successful research projects are attached.

More information is available on the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative website www.tlri.org.nz

Background:


2003 funding recipients Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI)

One year contracts:

The Connect.ed action research project Louise Starkey and Jedd Bartlett, The Correspondence School, Wellington.

Connect.ed is a programme developed by the Correspondence School to enable one hundred full-time year 9 and 10 students to learn through the internet. Connect.ed teachers will work with the researchers to seek to improve teaching practice, develop understandings about the elements of the Connect.ed programme, and improve student learning through e-learning and inquiry.

Who, what, how and why? Profiles, practices, pedagogies, and self-perception of adult literacy practitioners. Dr Robyn Chandler, Canterbury Adult Basic Education Research Network (CABERN), Christchurch.

The project team members are part of a larger local network of practitioners and researchers and will profile a variety of practitioners throughout Canterbury.

Narrative of beginning Mäori teachers: identifying forces that shape the first year of teaching Paora Stucki, School of Education, Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Many beginning teachers, particularly Mäori, find the reality of "real" teaching overwhelming and this research aims to identify the forces that shape the ways beginning Mäori teachers negotiate this first year, signalling ways to support beginning Mäori teachers.

The relationship between English language and mathematics learning for non-native speakers Phillipa Neville-Barton, School of English and Applied Linguistics, UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland.

This study examines the language factors in secondary and tertiary mathematics learning for students who do not have English as their first language, in particular the characteristics of spoken and written language they find difficult.

Two-year contracts:

Effective teaching in different cultural contexts: a comparative analysis of language, culture and pedagogy Dr Leonie Pihama, Director International Research for Mäori and Indigenous Education; Dr Tupeni Baba, Professor of Pacific Studies; Dr Trish Stoddart, Professor of Classrooms and Schools. International Research Institute for Mäori and Indigenous Education (IRI), Centre for Pacific Studies, and School of Education at the University of Auckland.

A collaborative team of Mäori, Pasifika and Pakeha researchers and practitioners will conduct a cross-cultural comparative study of instructional policies and practice and student outcomes in three intermediate year 7-8 school contexts where the degree of cultural engagement varies.

Improving tertiary student outcomes in their first year of study Nick Zepke, Linda Leach and Tom Prebble, School of Education, Massey University.

This research will explore what New Zealand tertiary education institutions and teachers can do to adapt their current processes and practices to improve retention, persistence and completion of diverse students in their first year.

Whakawhanaungatanga - partnerships in bicultural development in early childhood care and education. Dr Jenny Ritchie, University of Waikato.

This research focuses on building relationships with whänau Mäori as a strategy for implementing bicultural development within early childhood settings.

Enhanced teaching and learning of comprehension in years 5-8: a research/ practice collaboration for Mangere schools. Professor Stuart McNaughton, Woolf Fisher Research Centre, University of Auckland.

A researcher / practitioner partnership to determine the extent of the challenges for effective teaching of comprehension and to create better teaching methods to meet those challenges.

Making sense of learning at secondary school: an exploration by teachers with students. Professor Ruth G Kane, College of Education, Massey University.

This project, using teachers as researchers and students as active respondents, examines ways in which students’ learning processes are shaped by what happens in secondary school classrooms.

Great expectations: enhancing learning and strengthening teaching in primary schools with diverse student populations through action research. Dr Mary Hill, School of Education, University of Waikato.

Teacher / researchers from six schools, ranging from decile 1-10 and located in Auckland, Hamilton and Taumarunui, plan to investigate how teaching and learning can be systematically improved, and how expectations are implicated in this.

Under three-year olds in kindergarten: children's experiences and teachers' practices. Dr Judith Duncan, Children's Issues Centre, University of Otago, in conjunction with Dr Carmen Dalli, School of Education, Victoria University.

This project aims to investigate the experiences of two-year olds in four kindergartens to assist teachers in their planning and assessment practices. Mathematics enhancement project: professional development research. Associate Professor Bill Barton and Dr Hannah Bartholomew, Department of Mathematics, University of Auckland.

As part of a major research and development project in Manukau secondary schools, this project focuses on the delivery of professional development to secondary mathematics teachers, and on the mathematics classroom as a learning environment.

Numeracy and practices change. Associate Professor Glenda Anthony and Dr Margaret Walshaw, Department of Technology, Science and Mathematics Education, Massey University.

This multi-faceted collaborative investigation draws upon diverse populations of teachers and students and addresses issues of equity, proficiency, and sustainable practice through the opportunities made available in recent numeracy reforms.

BACKGROUND TO TEACHING & LEARNING RESEARCH INITIATIVE

In May 2002 the government established the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) programme to build knowledge about teaching and learning which in turn will lead to significantly improved outcomes for learners. Research undertaken in all areas of the education sector, from early childhood centres to industry training organisations, kura and wänanga, is eligible for funding under the Initiative.

To enhance the potential of the research findings to inform practice, the Initiative emphasises partnerships between researchers and practitioners, with this approach expected at all stages of the process from the research design to communicating the results to teachers and other educators.

The project priorities determine there must be demonstrable strategic, research and practice value based on six principles: the research will address themes of strategic importance to education in New Zealand; it will draw on related overseas work and build upon New Zealand-based research evidence; the research will address strategic themes and be forward looking; the project design will to enable substantive and robust findings; the research will recognise the central role of the teacher in learning; and the projects will be undertaken as a partnership between researchers and practitioners.

Three levels of funding were available under the scheme: A - large-scale projects (maximum $400,000) of up to three years with a $150,000 maximum for any project in the first year. - B - medium-scale projects (maximum $180,000) of up to two years with a cap of $90,000 for any project in any one year. - C - small-scale projects ($15,000–$30,000) often with an emphasis on practitioner-driven, researcher-supported projects.

The programme has annual funding for three years of $1 million, although funding for projects of more than one year is conditional upon continued government funding of the TLRI and on satisfactory performance during the first funding cycle.

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