Research School Network: Elevating Teaching through Educational Research Engaging with Educational Research to develop a shared language and a deeper understanding.

Elevating Teaching through Educational Research

Engaging with Educational Research to develop a shared language and a deeper understanding.

by Lincolnshire Research School
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Matt Cooper

Matthew Cooper

Head of Mathematics at Engineering UTC North Lincolnshire

In my role as an Evidence Lead in Education at the Lincolnshire Research School, I apply my background in mathematics teaching and educational leadership to support and guide schools in adopting research-informed teaching practices. 

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Elevating Teaching through Educational Research

In the ever-evolving field of education, the development of teaching professionals is a cornerstone for achieving excellence. Despite this, a common refrain among some educators is a sceptical, Well that’s what we already do” when presented with new strategies or findings from educational research. This blog post aims to explore the significant benefits that engaging with educational research can bring to teachers, particularly in establishing a shared language that enhances collaboration and understanding.

The Power of a Shared Language

Understanding educational research does more than just introduce new teaching concepts, it builds a common vocabulary among teachers. This shared language is crucial for discussing and analysing instructional strategies, student behaviours’, and classroom dynamics effectively. With a robust set of terms and concepts at their disposal, teachers can engage in deeper, more meaningful conversations about their work (Coburn, C. E., & Turner, E. O., 2012). This shared understanding makes it easier to collaborate on solving problems, adapting strategies, and implementing changes that benefit students. 

Having recently completed an MA in Educational Leadership, the biggest takeaway for me was being able to verbalise and discuss what I was seeing around me. Leadership strategies or seemingly disconnected decision making suddenly made sense when I could put a name to what I was seeing. This was an immediate advantage for me when looking to implement change across a faculty area. The recently updated Implementation guidance report stresses the importance of considering the contextual factors of systems, structures and the people who enable change, which is much easier when one has a greater understanding of the underlying theories (EEF, 2024)

"The behaviours that drive implementation are influenced by what is being implemented, the existing systems and structures, and whether there are people in place who can enable change."

A School’s Guide to Implementation (EEF, 2024)

Deepening Understanding of Common Practices

Many teachers, especially those who have been in the profession for years, may find that educational research often formalises or validates strategies they already use. However, the true value lies not in discovering something entirely new but in deepening the readers understanding of these practices. Research provides insights into why certain strategies are effective, how they can be optimised, and under what circumstances they work best. This enriched understanding can transform a familiar practice into a powerful tool for enhancing student learning (EEF, 2021)

Fostering Professional Conversations

A shared language also paves the way for professional conversations that can lead to real change. When teachers can articulate their experiences and ideas with precision, discussions become more focused and productive. These conversations are vital for refining teaching methods, addressing classroom challenges, and sharing success stories. Ultimately, they contribute to a culture of continuous improvement that benefits the entire school community.


Overcoming the Well that’s what we already do” Mentality

Change can be daunting, and resistance is a natural response. However, the That’s what we already do” mentality can hinder progress and professional growth. By presenting educational research not as a critique but as an opportunity for enhancement, it’s possible to shift perspectives. Highlighting concrete examples of how research-informed practices have led to improved outcomes can be particularly persuasive in demonstrating the value of adopting a research-based approach.

Practical Tips for Engaging with Educational Research

For teachers looking to incorporate educational research into their practice, here are a few practical tips:

  • Start with journals and publications tailored to educators, focusing on areas of interest or specific challenges you’re facing. Use EEF tools and resources, evidence reviews, blogs, and podcasts to develop your understanding of the evidence base.
  • Participate in Evidence Briefings and professional development workshops and seminars that highlight research-based strategies.
  • Work with colleagues to discuss research findings and brainstorm ways to apply them in your context.


Engaging with educational research offers a pathway to enhancing teaching practices, fostering professional growth, and ultimately improving student outcomes. By embracing a shared language and a spirit of inquiry, teachers can break through the cynicism of Well that’s what we already do” to discover new depths in their profession. Let’s commit to a culture of continuous learning and improvement, for the benefit of our educators and the students they inspire.


A Schools Guide to Implementation, guidance report, EEF, 2024

Coburn, C. E., & Turner, E. O. (2012). The Practice of Data Use: An Introduction. American Journal of Education, 118(2), 99 – 111.

Effective professional development, guidance report, EEF, 2021

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