Practitioner Enquiry

Becky Barnes, Curriculum Manager, Textiles

‘Students as researchers project’





Can student observations provide meaningful feedback for quality improvement?



·       NFER are investigating the value of students as researchers (Young Researchers) across the country and were keen to work with us following our research engaged status.


The action research project is 3fold in aims:

1.     A group of students with an aspiration to teach, have spent a year leading a research project to learn the attributes and qualities needed to be an excellent teacher through lesson observations.

2.     The college sought to explore if student observations can provide meaningful information for teachers to act upon in lesson planning?

3.     NFER are specifically interested in my role as a facilitator of group research; seeking a model of guidance to advise future facilitators on how best to carry out the role.


Key actions      

·       Phase 1: Students researched teaching through group discussions, online forums, lesson observation training, teacher interviews and lesson observations. 

·       Phase 2: Teacher interest developed in student voice/ Students were keen to practically experience teaching.

·       Teacher identified issue in lesson and asked young researchers to make observations on this area and provide suggestions for development.

·       Teacher and student implemented ideas through joint lesson planning.

·       Student voice recognised through observing the revised lesson again.


Preliminary findings

·       Young Researchers identified the need for excellent communication, organisation and clear roles to be assigned within the group for effective research to take place.


·       Teachers openly engaged with students as researchers and were very willing to support their interest in teaching through lesson observations.


·       The depth of trust between teachers and students was surprising.


·       Student’s ability in identifying strengths of lessons was as perceptive in cases as teachers.


·       Teacher volunteers said that the project encouraged them to reflect more deeply on the learner experience in their lessons, when planning through close work with young researchers.

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For more information on this project please contact: