University of Leicester
In this first edition of The Bridge we are happy to present a variety of research articles and literature reviews, which together represent a number of the different styles of contribution that this journal is keen to incorporate in future. They vary widely in their subject matter and style, but are united by the common thread that lies at the heart of this journal: educational research – informed practice. This journal’s aim is to provide a forum for original academic writing about this subject, as well as up-to-date critical discussions of existing literature in the field. All six contributors to this edition of the journal work full-time in schools and colleges across the country. Each of the contributors is also at some stage in the first two-years of the professional Doctorate in Education course at the University of Leicester, and this journal seeks to provide an avenue for active postgraduate researchers who want to share their research in what is sometimes an early and still developmental stage. Despite its often limited scale, such research can still be thought – provoking and inspirational to those working in variety of educational settings, as the following articles and think – pieces deftly illustrate.
In the first research article, Jalpa Ruparelia and Shane Payne’s report on a recent small-scale study brings fresh perspectives to the issue of collaborative feedback. By bringing together feedback that is often given separately by subject mentors and teacher-trainers to trainee teachers, they explore the perceptions of all of those involved in what they term “three-way” feedback. Their findings provide real encouragement for those interested in further exploring this field with a larger scale study. In the second research article, Karen Stephens re-evaluates the utility of lesson starters and the impact such activities can have on student behaviour, classroom collaboration and learning. Her article explores the use of a three-part starter model which has been developed and used in the training of student teachers and NQTs, and concludes that although starters still certainly have a place in lessons, their use needs more careful consideration, especially in regard to the needs of the students in a particular group.
Finally, in her “think piece” article, Stefanie Edwards reflects upon the development of the increasingly talked-about practice of lesson study, something that until recent years was largely confined to Japan. She reconsiders the existing literature and the extent to which Vygotsky’s theories provide a compelling explanation for the efficacy of the practice. To finish, the author considers the ramifications of the use of lesson study as a way to allow grassroots engagement from teaching professionals with the ideas of practice-based research and continuing professional development.
Goura Brazer’s review of recent literature regarding the role of family and community in schools, suggests that such involvement provides strong links to an enhanced learning environment for students across a number of indicators. The author concludes that many existing studies into this field suggest that maintaining and building upon such links with families and communities will prove a vital factor in furthering improvement in UK schools. Finally, Heather McClue provides an insightful evaluation of the most recent edition of Uwe Flick’s popular educational textbook An Introduction to Qualitative Research. As well as identifying ways in which this edition differs from previous incarnations, McClue gives a useful angle of how, as a current research student, she has found Flick’s text to be particularly useful.
Overall, this selection of small-scale research project evaluations, literature reviews and think pieces, provides a rich combination of studies for those working within most educational contexts. The authors’ evaluation and analysis of a wide range of current debates in various fields should help to bring readers up-to-date with areas which they may not have explored for some time. The articles’ own findings and arguments should also help to stimulate discourse and debate, as well as – potentially – the basis for written responses from readers, which we would be happy to consider for inclusion in future editions of the journal.