Teacher research is a way of developing as a teacher as well as bringing new insights to our knowledge of effective teaching and learning.
It can be focused on introducing new ideas or approaches, or it can focus on evaluating and reflecting on existing approaches.
For the teacher, it can help them understand pedagogical issues better, giving them better insight into what they are trying to achieve and how they can be more successful.
For the institution – the school or university where the teacher works – it can lead to better evaluation of existing practices and the successful introduction of innovations.
All teachers reflect on and discuss their teaching – methods, tools, objectives, etc. What makes teacher research different from day-to-day reflections is that it aims to introduce a higher level of rigour into the reflection – especially obtaining and analysing objective evidence and data. This takes it beyond assertion of opinion.
How rigorous should the research be? This will always be a balance between the time and resources available, the significance of any actions that might be based on the research, and the audience it will be presented to. In some cases, the research can be very local – of interest only to the school involved, and relating to teacher development of the school’s staff. In other cases, it might impact on decisions about technology adoptions or methodology training across a wider number of institutions – and therefore would require a higher level of research rigour.
Cambridge University Press is committed to supporting the development of teachers and teaching around the world, and is very happy to encourage teacher research projects by offering financial and professional support to a number of projects every year.