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Keeping teachers au fait with research

A NEW website offering digests of recently published academic studies should make it easier for teachers to keep up with educational research, writes Anat Arkin.

In a personal endorsement of the new service, Education Secretary Charles Clarke said its aim was to help teachers and other education practitioners "make sure that practice and policy are informed by good and up-to-date evidence".

Digests of research articles published a year or two ago - but based on research carried out even earlier - may not seem that up-to-date.

But according to Philippa Cordingley, chief executive of the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE), which provides the content for the Department for Education and Skills site, the studies are chosen for their current relevance. "We are looking for research that has a big enough evidence base and is of sufficient topicality to have a shelf life of two to four years," she said.

The studies featured on the site so far focus on five areas: literacy and numeracy, inclusion, gender, formative assessment and class organisation.

The idea of including several studies around a single theme is to give teachers what Philippa Cordingley describes as a "three-dimensional picture" of each one. But there will also be occasional one-off studies aimed at specific groups such as school governors.

As well as summarising journal articles, the site provides links to key points in each piece of research. It also draws users' attention to the practical implications of research findings. Extra functions allow users to comment on digests, send them to other people or store them in an electronic "briefcase".

As the site develops, it will also include news and views from special interest groups, discussion forums and links to a range of related resources.

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