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MEP learning pack

Masters in Educational Practice: Professional learning


Teachers as researchers

What is the topic about?

In this topic we discuss how to improve your practice through the two complementary processes of reflection and research.

Definitions of reflection and research vary among both academics and practitioners. Moon (2004) suggests that reflection is when we think about a complex issue, for which there is no obvious solution. It might involve a dilemma or challenging situation. Research informs critical reflection, which is based on the premise that there is always more than one solution or multiple perspectives on issues.

In academic circles, research is the systematic process of finding reliable information needed to answer questions or resolve difficulties. The word itself comes from an Old French term meaning ‘to search closely’.

These two R’s might seem luxuries for busy practitioners, but they have a key role to play in their professional development. Everyday decisions on matters such as timetabling and behaviour management call for tested evidence. The same is true for longer-term strategic plans, for example, whether to adopt a new curriculum initiative. The recent OECD (2014) report on improving schools in Wales recommends building education research capacity at all levels.

It is important to bear in mind that educational research should always be conducted in an ethical manner. Through this module you will see ‘ethical signposts’ as reminders to consider through the research process. You should consult the latest guidance, for instance produced by the British Education Research Association (BERA), available on its website.


  • To understand the link between reflection and research and why both matter to practitioners.
  • To develop knowledge and skills in locating and analysing educational literature and research data.
  • To understand how to undertake educational research in an ethical manner.
  • To critically reflect upon how your own practices might improve.
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