TLRP was committed to continuous improvement, particularly concerning the range of available skills, knowledge and confidence of researchers in tackling educational issues. The Programme’s strategies evolved over time as the issue became progressively better understood and in response to needs and commitments within the field. Moving beyond an initial survey by Donald and Anne McIntyre, three main stages may be identified:
Training - From 2002-2005 the Programme’s Research Capacity Building Network provided cross-Programme training services in the research methods which were felt to be particularly appropriate in the study of teaching and learning. RCBN also initiated a journal, Research Capacity Building, and a website offering advice and resources.
Social practices - From 2005, explicit attempts began to be made to embed processes for the development of research expertise within the social practices of educational researchers. This was seen as a complement to ESRC’s provision through the National Centre for Research Methods and Research Methods Programme. Additionally, close working relationships were established with the Applied Research in Education Scheme (AERS) in Scotland (which ended in January 2009) and, for sustainability purposes, with relevant UK learned societies such as the British Educational Research Association. This strategy was evaluated through the Mapping the Ripples project.
Resources - From 2007, particular effort was directed towards the development of on-line capacity building materials and resources to be available to the field as part of the TLRP legacy. Structured by ESRC’s research training requirements, UK experts were commissioned to provide ‘walk through’ guidance on topics and issues that have an explicit capacity building dimension. These were originally developed on the TLRP website but then merged with AERS material by TLRP and transferred to the BERA for long-term sustainability and development. NCRM resources are also to be presented through a single search interface.