Impact Activities: Case studies
Improving Teaching: Enhancing Learning: Westminster showcase
Bringing stakeholders together
TLRP’s Westminster conference on 24-25 November 2008 was the fourth (after conferences in Belfast, Cardiff and Glasgow) in a series of major UK events showcasing and reporting findings across the different strands of the TLRP. Seven displays of TLRP’s work and sixteen explanatory sessions led by TLRP researchers were complemented by workshops and exhibitions led by partner organisations and by other opportunities for formal and informal communication among the range of stakeholders, including over 30 partner and exhibitor organisations and over 800 practitioners, researchers and policy-makers from all sectors of education.
The programme and organisation of the event encompassed all sectors. The first day focused on major new challenges facing education for children and young people in schools, 14-19, and further education. The day was co-organised with the National Teacher Research Panel (NTRP) and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS). The second day, co-organised with the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), provided opportunities to contribute to the major issues currently being considered for post-compulsory learning, including higher education, adult education, workplace learning, and lifelong learning. Positive assessments of the event were made by representatives of all sectors. The major foci of the substantive sessions are indicated in TLRP’s downloadable impact leaflet (http://www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/ImpactLeaflet.pdf). At the event, TLRP also launched Commentaries on School Experience, Further Education, Technology Enhanced Learning, Widening Participation in Higher Education, Apprenticeship and Globalisation.
Full information on the conference, including video of plenaries, is available at:
Enabling take-up of findings
The Westminster event and the parallel showcase events elsewhere in the UK, were important elements in TLRP’s strategy for enabling take-up of findings, ranging from stimulating awareness, to enabling dialogue and partnerships, and to supporting use. In the words of Jill Martin (Chair of the NTRP), a major outcome of the TLRP is that “barriers have now been removed which previously might have been obstacles to the widespread take up of research findings”. She added that the TLRP had been “specifically designed to include practitioners in their work and teachers have felt that research findings now have more relevance with an emphasis on teaching and learning”. The conference was an example of progress towards “the worlds of research and practice getting their relationship right”. Paul Ramsden (Chief Executive, Higher Education Academy) also commented that TLRP had made a major contribution to the evidence available about effective teaching and learning, and that he and the HEA would be using its evidence and theoretical insights to improve the quality of student learning and to engage students.
The Westminster conference offered many opportunities for participants’ direct engagement with research findings and their application. These included direct communication with researchers, both formal and informal, in the shape of a research café (where delegates attended surgeries with practitioner and academic researchers to discuss findings and network with colleagues over coffee), an interactive zone (where delegates used research-based tools, games, protocols and materials to understand and apply key findings), workshops run by the partner organisations and TLRP researchers, and exhibitions about research and the use of evidence from key UK organisations. Further resources based on the event – presentations, video recordings, images, news items, publications – were made available to download from the dedicated webpage of the conference on TLRP’s website.
Feedback on the impact of the TLRP
The presentation of TLRP findings and outputs at the event was also an opportunity to obtain feedback from stakeholders about the whole of the TLRP.
The comments offered included David Eastwood’s, then Chief Executive of HEFCE, who suggested at the event that TLRP had achieved “very high quality research projects and very substantial levels of impact”, and thus it had “justified HEFCE’s long term commitment”.
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