More than ethics: Making research in schools count.

Year: 2018

Author: Prendergast, Shani, Stevens, Robert, Libke, Rebecca, Ferguson, Angela

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

What enables quality research in schools and how can engagement in research make a difference to the experiences of learners, educators, school leaders, and education sectors in Australia? What are the criteria that school leaders use when deciding ‘yes’ to an approach to participate in research? What should you put in a research application to education sectors that will facilitate an approval to proceed? And how can research be conducted in a highly ethical manner from a schooling perspective?
These are all questions that many researchers, particularly those new to school-based research, ask of themselves when commencing their education research journey. In this interactive workshop, members of the Research in Education Network (REN; representatives of the approving authorities for research in schools) will discuss why research in schools should be viewed as more than ethics. Such research is both an opportunity and a privilege that comes with significant responsibility, particularly where young people are involved as participants. As gatekeepers for research in schools, the REN have a responsibility to quality assure applications to conduct research in schools, and ensure that: the research adheres to jurisdiction policy requirements; student and staff wellbeing is protected at all times; the integrity of learning is maintained at school sites; and the research provides benefits for school communities and education in Australia.
The REN are also advocates for high quality research in schools, understanding that research in schools can (and often does) count. To this end, the REN encourage research that can make a positive difference to students, teachers and other staff. For example, where researchers align their study with a ‘problem of education practice’, give back to schools/ education sites by engaging with them as co-researchers, share findings, and provide evidence-based resources or professional learning to enhance school practices.
Those who attend this workshop will come away with a sound understanding of:

key elements of research in school policies;
what a good quality research application looks like;
the criteria for quality research in schools;
how to deliver highly engaging, meaningful research that has an impact to learning teaching, and the policies of school sectors; and  
why some exemplary research has created education system change and where to go to find out more.