Using ‘teacher talk’ to reimagine FE-based research as a basis for teaching, learning and assessment: Report from the Research and Scholarly Activity working Group

Sam Jones, David Powell


This think-piece paper is an open letter addressed to further education (FE)-based practitioners interested in research, their managers, the sector’s policy makers, and organisations like the Education and Training Foundation, who support the sector and wish to make it ‘research-rich’. Its purpose is to amplify the voices of 22 participants who attended the working group on research and scholarship at Reimagine FE18. Using Hardy’s (2010) concept of ‘teacher talk’ as a data collection method and stimulus for a series of praxis-oriented ‘conversations’, the participants identified four principles and four conditions to move forward FE-based research. First, the research needs to be led and done by FE-based practitioners; second, practitioners need to be supported to acquire the confidence to disseminate their research and new avenues identified for publishing it; third, the research needs to be rigorous and critical, and the fourth underpinning these is research, and its researchers need to be valued by the sector and its stakeholders. Conclusions are drawn and praxis, ‘morally-committed’, ‘history-making’ action in the spirit of Mahon et al., is suggested as a way forward. As such, this paper adds to the debate started 22 years ago by Elliott (1996) about why FE-based research still remains largely invisible within and beyond the sector and offers the sector’s latest response to the British Educational Research Association’s call for FE to be a ‘research-rich’ environment. In doing so, it invites managers and policy makers to begin a genuinely sincere, democratic conversation with FE-based practitioners about how to make this happen. 

Key words: FE-based research, research-rich, teacher-talk, praxis,

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