EEF Blog: Teacher Choices needs Teacher Voices!

The new EEF Teacher Choices trial – The Story Time Trial – is being planned. In this blog, senior associate Megan Dixon outlines its aims and invites teachers to help us in shaping it...

The EEF's Teacher Choices trials – introduced by my colleague, Prof. Rob Coe here – are a new design of trial that aims to explore some of the questions teachers ask about their practice. The aim is to identify and evaluate the impact of direct choices teachers make in their own classrooms. 

The first Teacher Choices trial – A Winning Start – is a collaboration between researchers and Year 8 science teachers, as they compare a retrieval practice quiz lesson starter with a discussion question lesson starter. Teacher Choices has indeed got off to a winning start! 

We are now considering the next pilot trial, which will look a little different.

Five features of Teacher Choices trials
1. A Teacher Choices trial is a collaboration between teachers and researchers – it’s important that teachers are involved in helping to select the choice to be tested and that it reflects a real choice they have to make
2. A Teacher Choices trial compares practices that regularly happen in the classroom – it could be subject specific, across all contexts, classes, ages or phases
3. A Teacher Choices trial does not need any additional materials or resources in the classroom – it works with what schools already have, although schools taking part in the trial would be given guidance on how to implement the choice
4. A Teacher Choices trial does not involve any additional training or specific professional development
5. A Teacher Choice trial measures a comparison between two choices – (not a choice compared to no choice or business as usual)

One of the exciting differences about the Teachers Choices trials is that, by their very nature, they have to start with teachers. 

Up until now, the EEF has concentrated its efforts on evaluating the impact of structured or stand-alone interventions that are adopted by schools, in comparison to their normal everyday business. They help schools understand what might be worth adopting or sustaining and these decisions typically rest with the senior leadership teams. 

In contrast, Teacher Choices trials are interested in comparing the effectiveness of different choices teachers as they plan and teach. They are about exploring the questions that are most relevant to teachers. So, it is essential to know what sorts of choices teachers are interested in finding out the answers to. 

This echoes the way that many schools work when using evidence to inform their school development – they might start with a niggling challenge or reflection that something is unusual, interesting, or ineffective. The next step would be to delve into the research evidence, considering the choices there are and considering what they might look like, sound like and feel like in practice. Finally, they might decide to try a couple of alternative choices of practice and consider if and how one was more effective than the other.

Get Involved

Get Involved

More than 14,000 schools, as well as early years and post-16 settings, have signed up to be involved in one of the EEF's trials. 4 EEF-funded projects are currently looking for volunteers to test the impact of their work.

Register your interest here.

We have, therefore, been collaborating with teachers to find out about some of choices they are making.

We worked with teachers in seminars to think about the choices they were making in their classroom. The next step was to consider the evidence that informed these choices and to develop testable research questions. We worked with Teacher Tapp to ask more (and different) teachers which choice they would be really interested in finding out the answer to. A Teacher Choice identified through teacher voice!

But before we go any further, we would like more teacher voices to help us and are conducting a brief survey for any teacher who would like to be involved: please click here to fill it in.

That’s a lot of teacher voices to contribute to our Teacher Choices work and we’d love to hear more.

There are many ways you can get involved; complete the survey, contact your nearest Research School, or sign up the EEF newsletter and find out how to take part in the next Teacher Choices trial – The Story Time Trial – more details coming soon...