Cutting edge research project aims to improve student grades

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Ongoing teacher research projects at One aims to revolutionise life in the classroom for students.

Taking place at One, a group of teachers are currently undertaking a number of research projects to investigate if changing traditional ways of teaching can improve overall student performance.

They (the research tasks) are looking at whether a healthier lifestyle can affect grades, if psychological techniques can reduce stress levels around exams and whether new marking systems can reduce teacher workload without impacting on student outcomes.

A leadership group has also been set up to give young people greater responsibility and analysis is being created to see if making lessons more interactive and memorable can help learners understand complex ideas more easily.

In Biology, teachers are engaged in a project funded by the Ipswich Opportunity Area evidence-based practice fund, investigating whether 'evaluating how to learn effectively (metacognition)', can improve students' A Level grades.

Organiser of the projects and Director of Curriculum, Tanja Hofmann, said, "We are trying to model what we do here on what designated research schools are doing. We are trying to achieve the same objectives and this is all part of the idea of making teachers engage with evidenced based projects in the classroom.

"We have created a network of research champions across the college and the overall agenda is to make sure teachers help our students as much as possible to become effective learners and achieve the grades they need to progress, as well as considering teacher workload alongside this."

"I think this is unique for the area. If we can challenge what we do in the classrooms and get out of just doing what we do every day, eventually we will improve the outcomes of our students. That's the plan at least. I'm looking forward to seeing the overall results."

She continued, "We have a large number of staff who often don't have the time to look at new research projects so we are building up a network of research champions and so far the project is working very well.

"The staff have given up their time and are very motivated to get involved. They don't get paid so they are doing this because they want to. It helps them become better teachers and it's not just another admin task, they are motivated to get involved because they can pick the subjects that they are interested. Then this will eventually help support their students in the long run.

"The challenge going forward is to get even more people engaged with this. We want to get people out of the rut if just thinking that this is what I do every day and to look at something else and try something different, take a few risks and not always do the same thing – maybe there is something out there that can help the students do even better and I guess that this is the ultimate philosophy behind this.

The research champions are sharing their findings with staff across the centre and more widely on the Suffolk One website. We have also conducted an exhibition of research posters and will be contributing the upcoming ResearchEd event at Suffolk ONE in November 2019. Future projects will include more science-based projects, as well as investigating the impact of technology use in the classroom.

David Robinson is a sports teacher involved in this scheme. He said, "I am looking at the health implications of studying and trying to discover how much diet, exercise, hydration, lifestyle choices, mobile phone use and sleep can impact students' grades. Ultimately, this project is still in its infancy, however we (One) want to be on the cutting edge of improving teaching levels. If teaching levels improve, student outcomes should also improve. That is why this project is so important."

More information about all the projects can be found here