For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.
Much attention is being paid to school students whose learning has been disrupted as a result of COVID-19.
As some state governments continue to invest in tutoring schemes “as an evidence-based way to help students catch-up”, such as the Victorian government’s Tutor Learning Initiative, if and how well students catch up through these schemes will be difficult to assess.
Post-pandemic education should rely on research. Credit:iStock
COVID-19’s impact not only varies based on complex educational, social, demographic, and economic factors, but conflicting evidence and reports of impact abound.
Classroom educators involved in these tutoring initiatives must make context-specific decisions about how best to respond to the learning needs of students as they return from remote learning.
Drawing on a variety of sources and types of evidence to understand how complex and diverse factors might have affected student learning, teachers then have to determine the most appropriate response. They need to be confident, capable and supported to use evidence to address the effects of the pandemic.
In 2020, we surveyed 492 educators from 414 schools across Victoria, NSW, Queensland and SA about their use of evidence, focusing in particular on research-based evidence.
A strong majority indicated that they had recently used evidence to inform their practice. Most commonly, educators consulted evidence types that were immediately available to them, such as student data (77 per cent) and policy and curriculum documents (72 per cent). Research-related sources, however, were not consulted as often, with 43 per cent using research disseminated from universities and 36 per cent engaging with university-based advice or guidance.
Just 43 per cent indicated that teacher observations and experience should be prioritised over research. These educators were also less likely to draw upon research-related evidence to inform their practice.
These forms of evidence can be valuable, especially when student data and teachers’ expertise are used alongside research. However, educators report three challenges relating to using research in particular: access, organisational culture and confidence.
Most told us that they did not have sufficient access to research. Even more (76 per cent) indicated that they lacked adequate time to access and review it. The same percentage also struggled to keep up with new research, which could include research on responding to COVID-related challenges.
Our research suggests that organisational cultures play a vital role in supporting the use of research. Research-related sources are used more frequently when schools foster collaborative learning or have processes in place to encourage the use of research.
But many educators lack confidence in their capacities and skills to use research. Our survey findings suggest that addressing the two challenges above is vital to building such capabilities.
In light of the findings, the implementation of tutoring and similar evidence-based initiatives responding to the pandemic need to factor in the confidence and capabilities of the educators tasked with delivering these programs.
Evidence use is important in improving the quality of teaching in tutoring programs responding to COVID-19 and in general, but educators need the appropriate access and support to make evidence-informed decisions. Governments, schools, and other organisations working with schools can all play an important part in this.
Lucas Walsh and Blake Cutler are researchers on The Q Project at Monash University’s Faculty of Education.
Stay across the most crucial developments related to the pandemic with the Coronavirus Update. Sign up for the weekly newsletter.
Most Viewed in National
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article