Making use of international large- scale assessment data in national contexts: PIRLS for Teachers
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There is a knowledge gap between information provided by international large-scale assessments (ILSA) such as PIRLS, PISA, and TIMSS, the publically available research results and what is of interest and use to teachers in England.
Considering the public costs needed to participate in international studies, the link between this form of assessment and its impact on classroom pedagogy is alarmingly low and questions about the use of this data and related research grow more urgent. But, the understanding of how to engage the users of research is still developing and the use and impact of research on practice is as yet minimal. One reason for this is seen in excluding practitioners from research activities that concern their professional field.
The PIRLS for Teachers project (ESRC IAA funded) first engaged with teachers to increase their knowledge about PIRLS and their capacity to use data and information provided by the survey. Second, it aimed to increase researchers’ understanding of the challenges teachers face in dealing with PIRLS findings and identifying their specific needs and interests. Third, teachers and researchers acted as co-producers of relevant new knowledge by jointly interpreting the PIRLS findings, addressing new research questions and finding ways in which results can be used to improve teaching practice.
We will outline the rationale of our project, discuss the challenges for us as researchers and for the teachers, present the materials developed in collaboration with teachers and discuss the impact and dissemination strategy.
We expect the outcomes of the project to enhance not only teachers’ professional learning about PIRLS and its use for improving classroom practice but also that of researchers about practitioners’ needs for understanding and using findings provided in ILSA. We also expect teachers to wrestle with the possible contradicting evidence from their own classrooms and from PIRLS. Overall, outcomes of this research will contribute to strengthening the link between ILSA, teachers’ understanding of its findings and the improvement of classroom practices, partly through possible new research collaborations.