Daria Makarova, Head of Science

daria-picNext in our series of interviews with teachers, we are delighted to welcome Daria Makarova. Daria is Head of Science, and is a passionate proponent of evidence-based practice and applying current research in schools.

Thank you Daria for taking the time to answer our questions. Firstly, how do you keep up-to-date with the latest education research?

I read TES and Impact and am also subscribed to BPS digest weekly newsletter which has clear summaries of psychological research (which can often be applied to education).

I also develop contacts with other teacher-researchers via the Teacher-Led Randomised Control Trials project, and through being a member of various groups on Facebook, such as the EEF and teachers networks where articles and research are commonly shared. ResearchEd is great for sharing relevant research and for talking to people ‘in person’.

I use google scholar to read latest articles on specific interventions relevant to my practice.

Is it important to you whether the research uses particular methods (eg neuroscience, classroom-based)?

I am particularly interested in quantitative research; specifically well-controlled studies across a range of schools. Classroom-based studies are most relevant as they relate directly to my practice. Lab-based studies give insight but would require replication in the classroom for me to be convinced!

Could you tell us how research has influenced your teaching?

I have based my own teaching practices on research on retrieval practice (e.g. including regular quizzes/ practice testing), feedback (peer versus teacher) and motivation (e.g. applying Dweck’s mindset theory to the classroom).

Having a research background has also meant that I have questioned and examined the evidence-base for interventions which have been frequently introduced in the schools I have worked in.

How do you tell if something is working in the classroom?

Data from students – regarding performance in tests across time.
Feedback from students regarding their personal experience of the intervention.

What do you think researchers should focus on next (ie what are the gaps in our understanding, from a teacher’s perspective?)?

Motivation changes between the ages of 11 and 18 – what are the largest influences on these changes? What can be done to maintain motivation?

The impact of the new curriculum on education and outcomes.

Comparing different methods of schooling & school structures e.g. are there any other school structures that may give better outcomes and opportunities for students – more personalised routes that give rise to qualified professionals in vocational fields etc.

Do you have any suggestions of how communication and collaboration could be improved between teachers and education researchers?

A clear website (e.g. like TES) and e-newsletter for teachers where research in education is succinctly and clearly summarised (quick to read with a clear conclusion – if it is emailed, teachers are more likely to read it).

Teacher and researcher conferences which are funded (such that teachers can be released from schools to attend).

Specific roles for ‘teacher-researchers’ in schools / establishing more ‘research schools’.

High quality research methods training on PGCE courses.

If you could share one piece of advice about incorporating research into your practice with other teachers and trainee teachers, what would it be?

Read research, evaluate it and trial it in the classroom if it applies! Base your practice on evidence!

Please could you describe a research-informed idea that you feel has had a positive impact in your classroom, so that others could try it as well if they feel it’s relevant. (e.g. Why did you introduce the idea? What did you do? What impact has it had?)

I found research on peer-feedback at university very useful and decided to apply it to my practice with A-level. I carried out a RCT (randomised control trial) at A-level examining peer versus teacher feedback on psychology essays. The results showed no difference in progress following teacher versus peer feedback. I have therefore introduced structured peer feedback sessions prior to taking in the final pieces of work which has worked very well, and has helped to reduce my marking load.

Thanks very much for your time!