Skip to main content

Unit information: Independent Self Study (Teach First) in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Independent Self Study (Teach First)
Unit code EDUCM0032
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Kate Hawkey
Open unit status Not open

EDUCM0026, EDUCM0027, EDUCM0028


Future Leaders in Contexts of Change (Teach First)

School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is an independent self-study unit in which participants will be supported, via a collaborative group, to engage critically and creatively with their work in schools, drawing on their Teach First Leadership Development programme. Participants will engage in collaborative reflection on issues in their own practice, through an action research process. The issues chosen will be specific to the context of their workplace and professional needs. Participants will be encouraged to reflect in terms of theory, policy, research and leadership. Participants will receive input on research methods tailored to the specific needs of their action research study. In this module, we interpret leadership as relevant to a teacher working with a class of participants as well as wider school issues.

Developing the use of a reflective diary which they undertook during their PGCE, participants will be asked to transform this reflective tool into a research diary. Participants will identify and focus on one issue; collect observations around their own practice; systematically reflect on issues pertinent to their professional development, draw on relevant literature; engage with existing research; plan an action-research intervention; evaluate the outcomes; reflect on issues for the future. Subject to professional and ethical considerations, participants will use a range of techniques to record their observations.

The aims of this unit are to enable participants to:

  • develop skills of action research in educational leadership.
  • enable participants to carry out an individual school-based action research project on an issue in educational leadership.
  • encourage participants to work as part of a collaborative group on the range of issues within the group.
  • encourage reflection on effective ways of working in such a group.

Research methods training will enable participants to:

  • appreciate the importance of critically engaging with research literature.
  • understand and engage with the process of research design and its conduct, including issues in data collection and analysis.
  • undertake an empirically-based project having considered a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods.
  • enrich their reading and understanding of the research literature they will engage with in future modules.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this unit, participants will have:

  • knowledge of a range of important issues related to action research in education.
  • carried out an investigation into an issue in education leadership over two terms, developing skills in action research and in critical evaluation.
  • developed as a reflective practitioner.
  • developed collaborative group skills such as peer review and mentoring.

Specific research methods outcomes are that participants will have:

  • formulated a research question and an appropriate research design for a complex project.
  • critically engaged with issues of ethics, validity, trustworthiness and reliability in relation to research.
  • demonstrated the skills and confidence to conduct an independent action research project.
  • made decisions regarding their future needs, in particular in the area of data collection and analysis techniques.

Teaching Information

Given the nature of the programme, with participants dispersed around regional schools and working on a full time teaching timetable, the teaching will be delivered through a mixture of workshop days, online synchronous discussion groups, tutor directed activities and asynchronous online tutorials. Each participant will have access to both joint unit resources and a ‘personal learning space’ which they will be able to adapt to their own needs and to facilitate learning.

Typically the format of delivery will be: 3x day sessions at University of Bristol (21 hours) 5x 2hrs synchronous electronic meetings (10 hours) 269 hours of independent self-study

Assessment Information

A portfolio of reflective writings (or multi-media equivalent) showing the development of thinking over time, with respect to an issue in education/leadership, and the contributions of the collaborative group (2000 words equivalent). These reflective writings will be drawn from participants’ research diaries. The required format will be flexible and adaptable to the reality of the participant’s working context. For example, it might include audio evidence of conversations with mentors, visual evidence including annotated photographs, web clippings with reflective comments and notes reflecting on what they have read. It should include a critical commentary on the particular education/leadership issues and any solutions. The portfolio format builds on similar assessment methods used during the Teach First PGCE programme.

The portfolio will be the initial preparation for the substantive 4,000 word assignment. It will be marked on a Pass/Fail scale. Successful completion of the portfolio of reflective writings is necessary for the participant to progress to the 4,000-word assignment.

The main substantive assignment is a continuous piece of summative writing of 4,000 words. This assignment will be a report of a small-scale action research project, including the implementation of teaching strategies to tackle an issue and an evaluation. This will be marked on a literal five point scale (A-E), the grade of which will constitute the final unit grade.

All formal marking will be the responsibility of staff working within the Graduate School and, as such, will conform to our generic M-level criteria and marking scales.

Reading and References

Key texts for this unit can be found among the international research journals found in the Graduate School of Education Library, including the on-line journals. In particular:

  • Educational Action Research
  • International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education

and other journals can be recommended when the issues have been decided on. The following list supports the development of research skills:

Altrichter, H., Feldman, A., Posch, P. & Somekh, B. (2008, second edition) Teachers Investigate their Work: An Introduction to Action Research across the Professions, Routledge. [The first edition, published in 1993, is still useful.]

Dowling, P (2010): Doing research/reading research :re-interrogating education /Paul Dowling and Andrew Brown. 2nd ed. London : Routledge

Elliott, J. (1991) Action Research for Educational Change, Buckingham Open University Press.

McNiff, J (2013): Action research :principles and practice. London : Routledge.

(Other books will be recommended when the issues have been decided on.)