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Practice improved

TEACHER RESEARCH. David Hustler, Manchester Metropolitan University

It would probably come as a surprise to know how many schools and teachers are now involved in research. Many, but by no means all, of these teachers are doing research in their classrooms and schools as part of certificate, diploma, master or doctoral programmes - and often using the findings of large-scale studies as starting points for exploring significant issues in their own schools. Practitioner research has become not just accepted but prioritised. Sometimes, because of the negative associations of the past, it is referred to as "enquiry" rather than research - but the curiosity and commitment are the same.

Inevitably, much of this practitioner research has been invisible: the concern for most teachers is to improve their practice rather than to publish. However, things are changing thanks to journals such as Action Research and Educational Action Research.

Action research by teachers has "crept through the crannies" of the education system and is slowly contributing to the improvement of practice all over the country. A central question now is how best to interrelate the large-scale educational research projects with small-scale teacher research studies so that they inform each other. Work in several regions, including Manchester, linking school effectiveness and improvement research to local action research is trying to do just this.

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