Dr Kevin Smith discusses how the WISERDEducation project has benefited from Cardiff University’s School Partnership Project.
The project is a Research Councils UK initiative that support researchers’ direct engagement with students and brings contemporary and inspirational research contexts into formal and informal learning to enhance and enrich the curriculum.
Dr Smith has run a series of workshops with teachers from a sixth form college in south Wales to help develop their research skills and enable them to support their students to use sociological data in the Individual Project – a new element of the qualification.
The workshops introduce teachers to WISERD’s research on areas including pupils’ perceptions of place, the Curriculum Cymreig, young people’s most admired and disliked public figures, and children’s altruism and relationship with money.
Teachers are also reacquainted with the basics of educational research, practice data analyses using Microsoft Excel, and make curricular and pedagogical connections between the data and its potential use in the Welsh Baccalaureate research project.
Dr Smith said: “I’ve been very impressed by the dedication and motivation shown by these teachers. The recent changes to the Welsh Baccalaureate has raised some concerns among teachers as to how they can best meet the needs of their students under the new guidelines, but these teachers have embraced these changes in the interest of helping their students and in further developing their own research literacy.”
“The support from the Schools Partnership Project has enabled WISERD to attempt to address a need that many teachers in Wales feel has not been adequately addressed. Data from one of WISERD’s education studies shows that, for many teachers, once they’ve completed their initial teacher training, or have completed a Masters degree as part of a professional development scheme, they have very little interaction with universities and educational research. Greater interaction between schools and universities in Wales is of mutual benefit to teachers, academics and pupils, and I hope we can continue to find new and effective ways to develop these relationships.”