The Association for Science Education

1.0 Research

Abstract

Research is a somewhat problematic term. This is compounded by a number of ways in which research engagement can be configured. Within this article we will consider how you, as a teacher educator, might begin to get to grips with the various roles that you might have. These may very well include keeping up to date with scientific advances; keeping up to date with research relating to science education; keeping up to date with the wider educational field - all for your own professional development. Alongside this may well be the ways in which you might carry out your own research to make contributions to the field within which you work - how do you go about defining your research, how do you disseminate your findings? On top of all this, as a tutor, you will have a responsibility to ensure that your trainees engage with research and also develop the skills and understanding necessary to carry out their own research - either in the pursuit of academic credit or to underpin their practice (or both!).

This article also contains contributions from colleagues within the field of science education research. In these contributions they talk about their research, focusing on the practical and personal aspects of the process, as well as pointing you in the direction of their work and researchers who have influenced them.

The standards most appropriate to this section include Q7 and 8 although the scholarly, research, critical enquiry dimension underpins much of the professional role and development of science teachers.

Keywords: Science, Education Research, Enquiry, Evidence, Practice.

Contents

1. Introduction
2. Introducing trainees to research material
3. Your Positioning as a Researcher
4. Writing as a Researcher
5. Funding sources
6. Doing a PhD or EdD
7. The Researcher's Voice
8. Useful websites when embarking on research 

1.0 Introduction

As teacher educators you will be expected to engage with research in a number of ways and at different levels. You will need to support your own practice through scholarship that informs your teaching and you are likely to be expected to carry out your own research and to disseminate this through publication and presentation. You will also need to support the research skills and understanding of your trainees.

In this section you will find advice and guidance covering all of the above roles: how to define your own research area, some ideas about the sort of methodology that you might use in the pursuit of your interest and how you might go about getting the output to an appropriate audience; how to engage trainees in their own research projects and how you might support them in working in a systematic way in their inquiry.
You will also finds links to articles written specifically for this site by people who are involved in science education research. These articles give voice to the challenges and the opportunities that working in this area provide, as well as offering up some advice about how to go about research. The personal insights - usually absent from their research papers - offer up support to those of us who are new to the enterprise.

We begin by considering how we might engage trainee's with the research process.

2.0 Introducing trainees to research material

Ideas are not static and trainees need to expect to review and change their practice in the light of new scientific and educational research. The former will require them to change the content and use of equipment in their lessons and the latter the pedagogy of how they teach and subsequently to evaluate their own developing science understandings and the effectiveness of any changed pedagogic strategies.

Trainees need to be introduced to research to help them understand that 

  • the reasons for taking particular pedagogical and content approaches should be the result of well thought out and tested strategies;
  • the education community wants to constantly review and improve practice and that they can and should be part of this process; and that
  • they need to keep up to date through reading professional and research journals so that they can improve their practice throughout their teaching career as well as to share new findings and ideas with their colleagues as they take senior positions.
2.1 Helping trainees to use existing research

Professional Journals which contain research findings are a user friendly way for trainees to be introduced to research findings. Useful journals to start with include:

Primary Science Review which has short articles or 2 or 3 pages in length and School Science Review.

Research journals and books with research findings can be daunting to start with so it is helpful to provide one or two carefully chosen articles linked to a topic. The trainees could be asked to read the article before a session. Trainees could each be given one different paper on a similar topic and be required to share their reading with one or two others. This gives them practice in picking out the important ideas and in articulating them. It is also useful to encourage them to practise reading articles critically to evaluate the information and the limits of its applicability generally and with respect to their own practice.

Useful starting points for new researchers in many fields of science are:-

  • Harlen W. (1999) Effective Teaching of Science: A Review of Research Edinburgh: SCRE
  • Millar R., Leach J. and Osborne J. (2000) Improving Science Education: the Contribution of Research Buckingham: OUP
2.2 Research by Trainees

Carrying out small research projects has been shown to be helpful in developing trainee teachers' ability to teach effectively. But how does one start this journey - where does that initial spark come from which triggers the idea that research might be useful, doable, sustainable and memorable. The following are suggestions for tutors to engage their trainee teachers with research ideas that they can then take forward into their own research projects:

  • Download a selection of abstracts (just the abstracts) from journals within your field. Divide the abstracts between different groups in your class. Get the groups to identify key themes before ‘jig-sawing' the groups. Once the groups have shared key sections of information (e.g. findings, key concepts, theories etc) - give each individual the opportunity to silently brainstorm ideas they could forward in a research project within the institutions they are training.
  • Choose a variety of dated studies within your field and get groups or individuals to decide how these dated studies could be replicated now within a much smaller scale study.
  • Bring in journal articles containing research that you feel is exciting and relevant to your cohort of trainee teachers. Get the trainees to review the article (for homework). In so doing ask them to tease out gaps, or alternative ways in which the same research could have been carried out (e.g. if article is about primary education could the study be carried out in a secondary school on a much smaller scale?). This can then be taken forward into a short brainstorming session for the trainees on planning research.
  • Ask trainees to go into their schools and talk to teachers, senior managers and pupils. Their job is to elicit as many ideas for the sorts of research that could be done in their particular school. Collate all of these ideas from the trainees, copy and give back to all trainees. An entire session can then be created around brainstorming ideas for potential research.
  • Give each group an envelope with JUST the titles of articles you feel provide exciting research in your field. The job of the group is to guess what the nature of the article was about and how the research was carried out.
  • Using the ideas in the section ‘Some Methods used in educational research' (see above) divide the groups up giving them a sub-selection of the research methods. Get the trainees to brainstorm ‘doable' research ideas using each research method - these ideas can then be pooled and taken into a discussion based around potential research projects.
  • As homework ask trainee teachers to bring in a selection of newspaper cuttings relating to education that have appeared over a specific timeframe. Give them the following categories to work with: class, gender, ethnicity, locality, sexuality, age and religion. Get the trainees in groups to devise a fictitious research project around one of the categories.
  • Photocopy the contents pages from either Masters or PhD theses kept in your university. Give these to the trainees in groups and get them to devise as many ideas for mini projects as possible purely from the contents pages.
  • Take the trainees into an IT suite. Give each trainee a particular electronic journal to work from. Give them a period of time (30 minutes?) to generate as many names of articles that they feel might inspire them to carry out similar small-scale research. These ideas can then be pooled by the group.

These starter activities can be used to generate ideas for doable research for trainee teachers. The list is by no means definitive and it would be useful to collate as many ideas as possible on this website - more ideas would be welcomed! 

Download R1.0_2.0a 'Steps for developing a small research project for trainees' 

3.0 Your Positioning as a Researcher

Caelli et al (2003) argue that the ‘positioning' of a researcher refers to the researcher's motives, presuppositions, and personal history that lead toward, and subsequently influence a particular inquiry (Caelli et al, 2003).  The positioning of the researcher can operate as a filter affecting each and every stage of the research process i.e. frominitial reading of related literature, to the design and analysis of the research strategy, research questions and the final writing up of the research project. It is thereforeimportant for any researcher to briefly examine their own self-positioning relating to their research and its analysis in light of their own biography and involvement with respondents in their studies.

The choice of any research topic reflects, in part, the personal and professional biography of the researcher. As an emerging teacher you will already have gained substantial contextual understanding of the experiences of ‘becoming a teacher' and these understandings will be enhanced during the research process. Positioning occurs through disciplinary socialisation (Ray, 1999). In other words the sorts of degrees and work experience that teachers experience prior to becoming a teacher can, for some, mean that being a ‘science teacher' may not necessarily resonate in the same way as some body who is becoming a modern foreign languages teacher. These different sorts of journeys can emphasise not only the philosophical and methodological underpinnings of a variety of research approaches, but also a critically theoretical understanding of education systems. These biographical details influence not only the conceptualization of the research but also the ways in which researchers carry out and analyze their data.

If the biography of the researcher is significant to any discussions regarding self-positioning, so too is the effect of field work. As a researcher working in the field you may well find yourself being invited into people's homes and work places. You may be privy to sensitive and at times emotionally charged dialogue. As a writer this can present issues about how one represents these experiences (Lather, 1991). In writing up research it is sometimes difficult not to adopt a collusive style in places or indeed leave some assumptions implicit within the presentation of such data.It is therefore important to be continually reflexive and honest in the writing process. All research is value driven and the values of the researcher inevitably influence research outcomes. Your job as a researcher is to articulate a knowledgeable and theoretically informed choice of methodology and method which is congruent with your inquiry while remaining both ‘contextually qualified' (Brisard et al, 2007: page 224) and ‘contextually sensitive' (Crossley and Jarvis, 2001: page 407) to the respondents who may contribute to your research.

Download r1.0_3.0a_journals_used_by_tutors 

3.1 Strategies to support beginning research

Joint research and authorship in a team or with more experienced colleague(s) is an approach suggested for beginning researchers.  New tutors may lack the confidence to ask for advice from colleagues. Their colleagues will also have been through this beginning process so are likely to supportive if asked.Other useful strategies suggested by experienced tutors include:

  • Participating in a network of tutors with similar interests such as ATSE;
  • Working in partnership with teachers;
  • Linking into parallel studies in other contexts such as Canada, Australia, South Africa and Scandinavia where people are often keen to collaborate and share ideas and workload;
  • Attending and presenting at supportive conferences as a way of developing the argument of a paper; and
  • Registering for a higher degree.
3.2 Keeping a Research Journal

While certainly not mandatory, it can be really helpful to keep some sort of research journal throughout the process of your research. It can take many forms from simple note book, daily diary or even just a document that you keep on your computer called ‘research journal' (I keep a scruffy notebook with me most times in case ideas pop into my head when travelling on the train etc). The following list contains examples of the sorts of things that you might wish to keep in your research journal:

  • Record of books recently bought
  • Meeting notes
  • Thoughts on any conferences you might have attended
  • A ‘to do' list
  • Random thoughts related to your research
  • Contacts and References
  • Networking list and notes
  • Perceptions of any interviews you might have carried out
  • Perceptions of any newspaper articles/magazines relevant to your project
  • Meetings with your tutor/supervisor

Further questions for you to consider that might help you shape the format of your journal (although sometimes its lack of format can be equally as important) are:

  • What recurring themes in the literature coincide with your own interests as a researcher?
  • Have your views and/or values changed over time during the course of your research?
  • Has your writing changed during the course of your research (e.g. has it become more/less theoretical?)
  • Why did you choose your particular methodology?
  • Has your research changed your professional practice?
  • Has your research changed your views on the teaching profession and/or the nature of formal education?

The list could go on for ever and it is by no means prescriptive. Keeping a research journal helps you track and monitor the development of your thinking during the research process. It is also a vital document when you wish to look back, evaluate and defend the work once completed.

3.3 Research Strategies

All researchers use techniques of data collection (methods) and usually follow a tradition of school of thought (methodology) that allows them to think about, and guide what they do in research and how they do it. In discussing the value of different research methodologies, Kvale (1996) uses the contrasting metaphors of ‘miner' and ‘traveller' in relation to the researcher. The miner ‘digs' for ‘nuggets' of data, the purity of which is determined by its ability to correlate with an objective, external ‘real' world. However the ‘traveller' seeks to understand the stories told by the inhabitants of that world, and in doing so, is prepared to be affected by such processes. Kvale's metaphors serve to show that philosophical perspectives influence not only the nature of the research and how it is carried out but also what kind of researcher goes about her or his business in the first place. The question of what we know and how we know what is claimed as knowledge, and what kinds of approaches should be adopted in order to understand a given subject matter are all philosophical questions that inform your ‘methodology' i.e. the reasons behind your chosen method of research.

When embarking on research for the first time it is helpful to consider that there are two methodological traditions - Positivism and Interpretivism - at opposite ends of a methodological rainbow. Positivists, drawing on the traditions of the natural sciences in their research methodologies, tend to adopt methods involving the use and analysis of quantitative data (e.g. questionnaires, surveys etc). Associated with positivism is the belief that researchers, should, wherever possible, attempt to be as ‘value neutral' as possible. Seen from this perspective the job of research is to collect data that points towards the creation of laws, theories and generalisations. Interpretivists, on the other hand, believe that it is more appropriate to use qualitative data such as interviews and observation, to study the social world. This ‘value laden' approach to research welcomes the idea of small-scale research and embraces the fact that researchers carry with them their biases, values, expectations and experiences into the research process. Seen from this perspective the researchers job is to get inside the heads of the people they are researching to see how they interpret their world. Between these two approaches lie a range of different methodologies (e.g. Realism and Feminism) that can inform and guide the researcher, not only in the planning and executing of their research but also in the analysis, interpretation and evaluation of any outcome generated. You may consider yourself to be both ‘miner' and ‘traveller' in your research or you might tend to place more emphasis on the former or latter. It is nevertheless important to be aware of the methodological minefield that you tread when making your research claims. It is also really helpful to read up on the various traditions when considering what sort of educational research you might like to embark on.

3.4 Some Methods used in educational research
  • Experiments
  • Social Surveys
  • Interviews (structured, semi-structured and unstructured)
  • Focus groups
  • Observation (e.g. participant, non-participant, covert and overt)
  • Case studies
  • Analysis of official/unofficial statistics
  • Analysis of personal documents (e.g. diaries, letters, confiscated class notes)
  • Analysis of contemporary documents (e.g. policy documents, reports and speeches)
  • Podcasts
  • Analysis of virtual ‘chat' communities

It is possible to combine the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods when carrying out research (depending on how this is done this is sometimes referred to as ‘methodological pluralism' or ‘triangulation'). It is perhaps worth mentioning however that the more research methods you adopt the more analysis and justification you will need to provide for your methodological choices. Simplicity is often the best advice when choosing a method of research. Remember that one method (e.g. interviews) will still provide enormous amounts of data to sit through and analyse!

4.0 Writing as a Researcher 

Writing up your own research can be an exciting, creative and fulfilling pastime. It is also extremely time consuming and, at times, a painful experience. There can be nothing scarier (or more exciting) than starting your period of writing confronting a blank page! However you view the processes of authoring your own research the trick is to find what works for you as a writer. Bookshelves are littered with textbooks that offer guidance on writing research projects, dissertations and doctoral theses. Many of these texts offer excellent advice about ‘writers block' and strategies to get you through the writing-up process. For example, Phillips and Pugh (2000) recommend the following strategies to help increase productivity when writing:

1. Make a rough plan (which you need not necessarily stick to but can revise).
2. Complete sections one at a time.
3. Revise and re-draft at least twice (and build this into your plan).
4. Plan to spend 2-5 hours a week in term time writing.
5. Find quiet conditions in which to write and, if possible, always write in the same place.
6. Set goals and targets for yourself (make these small and ‘doable' rather than large and insurmountable).
7. Get ‘critical friends' to comment on early drafts.

In their study of 170 academic staff members Lowenthal and Watson (1977) identified two distinct types of writer:

  • Serialists: view writing as a sequential process in which words are corrected as they are written and who plan their writing in detail before they begin to write)
  • Holists: tend to think as they write and a compose a succession of complete drafts.

Placing ‘Serialists' and ‘Holists' at opposite ends of a continuum you may find that you can identify the sort of writer you are becoming. Sometimes when struggling for ideas regarding research the very process of writing helps many researchers resolve that struggle and discover new pathways for their thinking. Murray (2007) offers the following tips for unblocking ‘writers block':

  • Freewriting
  • Generative writing
  • Writing with your supervisor, tutor, colleague
  • Mind-mapping
  • Verbal rehearsals
  • "Write down all you know about X"
  • "Write down all your ideas on Y"
  • Construct a sense of an ending - visualise your project, thesis etc.

Dunleavy (2003) argues that writers almost always need to carry out five operations on any piece of writing they do:

  • Print: Print your material to achieve a shift of perspective from writing on your computer.
  • Edit: Do not leave this process to the final stages but sift out very early on, misspellings, grammar mistakes etc as these will restrict your ability to tease out larger defects.
  • Revise: covers a paragraph-level re-consideration of how one idea chains to the next.
  • Upgrade: Involves going back from your piece of text to your original materials and consider ways in which you can strengthen your arguments.
  • Remodel: Refers to the radical re-structuring of a section, chapter or article.

Remember that you are not aiming for perfection in your research but rather offering something that is of use to you, your colleagues, and the professional communities of practice with which you engage. Murray (2002) provides useful guidance on how to judge if and when your work is finished:

  • Your arguments and conclusions are plausible even if you are not entirely happy with them.
  • Your argument is convincing and coherent.
  • You have made a recognisable contribution to knowledge even if you think it is not earth-shattering.
  • You have made this visible in your introduction, conclusions, and abstract using the word ‘contribution' or something very similar to it.
  • You have achieved some or all of the aims that you set out to achieve in your research and have reported this in project, dissertation, thesis, article etc.
  • Feedback from the professional colleagues/critical friends indicates your work is adequate.

Finally, one piece of advice offered to me from an extremely prolific author friend of mine. She intentionally would never ever finish a particular section of writing in one go. Rather, she liked to finish knowing that she had to return to the same spot the next day to finish-off that particular section. In this way she found that she always knew exactly what she was going to start writing on in her next planned writing session - and - as a result felt better and more encouraged to return to her desk, complete the section and move on to her next bout of creativity.  

As you develop as a researcher you will probably want to get your work published either in journals or books, or submitting a paper for a conference which provides motivation to complete. Several tutors suggested the Association of Tutors in Science Education conferences as an excellent start for beginner researchers. Others suggested conferences run by the Institute of Biology (IOB) and British Education Research Association (BERA).

Journals

It is important to write an article with a chosen journal in mind so that the content is targeted to the appropriate audience. Good journals will be peer reviewed. Therefore be prepared to respond to critical comments and advice before resubmitting. This may be a long drawn out process (see Download 12 below), which covers:

  • Choosing the journal
  • Submitting the paper
  • What a reviewer will be looking for
  • Dealing with referees' comments

Wellington, Jerry (2003) Getting Published: A Guide for Lecturers and Researchers. London: RoutledgeFalmer provides an excellent start for new writers. (See review of the book www.lib.msu.edu/corby/reviews/posted/wellington.htm)

Books
One strategy of having publications is to edit a book producing work from a number of people. Typical examples are where a group of tutors from the same department write different chapters within one theme.
 
Download R1.0_4.0a "The process of writing and submitting a paper to a journal''

5.0 Funding sources

Finding funds can be a very disheartening process. Producing a proposal is time consuming and most will be unsuccessful. However a proposal to one funder can often be adjusted to match the criteria for another. Small grants of a few thousand pounds to do a small scale project are the ideal beginning point. Such funds can come from:-

  • Tutors' own university and/or department
  • Teacher Training Agency (TTA)
  • Charities
  • Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
  • Institute of Physics (IOP)
  • Nuffield Foundation
  • Wellcome Trust

An ESRC grant is the goal of most researchers, but a good idea which is very theoretically grounded is needed. A track record is also very helpful. It is better to ask for smaller grant categories when starting to apply for ESRC grants.

Colleagues, research committees and Research Directors can give advice about potential funders. It is sensible to look for adverts in ASE journals and TES. Other information about UK funders can be found at:

Some organisations buy into a research warning system and/or research information sources such as

ESCalate (Education Subject Centre) provides small development grants of up to £5000 to support initiatives promoting networking, development and the achievement of high standards.  ESCalate is part of the Higher Education Academy: Supporting Teaching and Learning across the UK (heacademy-escalate@bristol.ac.uk).

6.0 Doing a PhD or EdD

A PhD by research will involve equivalent to 3 years full time work and can be very difficult do to with a full time teaching post.

An alternative is to take a Doctor of Education (EdD), which like the PhD, focuses on a rigorously constructed research-based study contains a course work and a research component. As well as providing a thorough basis in research methods, the initial course work stage exposes candidates to key issues and theoretical concepts in their field encouraging them to reflect critically on education practice. Candidates are then ready to embark on a shorter detailed research study leading to the final dissertation.

A third option is to take a PhD by publication. This involves presenting a set of published materials, books and articles, in one ‘oeuvre' which is equivalent to a PhD. This may take several years to accumulate. It is also challenging to ensure that all the publications are interrelated and include the theory and methodology that would be demonstrated in a PhD by research. However this option has the advantage that publications are being steadily produced throughout the ‘study' period.

Tutors considering doing PhDs, should find out what their own institution (if they offer higher degrees) can offer first as it is likely that fees will be waved. However, another institution may have supervisors working in a field that is more relevant. It is therefore worth enquiring what different institutions have to offer. It is important to have agreement of senior staff before proceeding with a PhD as it will make considerable demands of time and study periods may be available.

7.0 The Researcher's Voice

In this section colleagues give some insight into the process of researching in the field of science education. By reading through this section you will be introduced to key works and key workers, and hopefully be encouraged to engage in your own research. Within this section you will find some advice around the likely facilitators and inhibitors of effective research. You will be introduced to some key reference groups in terms of individuals, organisations and key journals. Different colleagues (their penportraits are below) will approach their narratives in different ways - maybe through a general narrative or through discussion of a particular case, maybe talking about an individual project. However, they each explore some ‘operational issues' around research. For example:

  • How do you define/identify a research area?
  • How do you identify participants?
  • How do you decide on a methodology?
  • How do you disseminate your work? 
  • How do you identify your ‘audience'?

You will also find out some nuggets of biographical detail as they reflect on theri role as a science education researcher or as a researcher in the field of science education. Answering questions such as:

  • How you started in research
  • What's your underlying philosophy?
  • What are your motivations?
  • What inspires you?
  • Seminal papers that have influenced your work
  • Key collaborations
7.1 Jerry Wellington - pen portrait

University of Sheffield, School of Education

I did a degree in Physics and Philosophy at Bristol University before travelling up the A4 to do my PGCE at the Institute of Education in London, focusing on ‘Integrated Science' as it was called then. After my teaching practices in London, I was offered a job in Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets. I enjoyed my time there, teaching Physics and ‘Combined Science' at various places, moving on to become head of department. Whilst teaching full time, I did a Masters at the Institute taking 4 years to complete as a part-time student.

I then moved from Tower Hamlets to the University of Sheffield, School of Education, to teach on the PGCE there and also some of the higher degrees. Over twenty years after my move North, I am now a professor in Education in Sheffield and something of an adopted Northerner. My research and publishing has spanned a number of areas in science education and more recently on research methodology. A few of my publications are shown, starting with the first refereed article I ever had published (below), which gave rise to a lot of glee and air punching (I still do this): WELLINGTON, J. J. (1980) Recruiting Physics Teachers - twelve years after Swann, Physics Education, Vol. 15, pp. 134-135.

Click here to see more from Jerry Wellington.

7.2 Jonathan Osborne - pen portrait

School of Education, Stanford University and King's College London

I started my career as a teacher of physics and science in the then Inner London Education Authority in 1973. I taught physics in two schools for 9 years and then took a secondment as an advisory teacher for 3 years. When that finished the job at King's College appeared in 1985 and I was fortunate enough to be offered the post. It took me 10 years from then to complete my PhD and to produce any publications of note. However, it was a good apprenticeship and after that my career took off with a number of publications - some of which are listed below. In 1996 I was promoted to a senior lecturer and in 2001 to a professor. In 2003, I was appointed to the Chair in Science Education. From 2005-2008 I was Head of Department of Education and Professional Studies at King's and then in 2009 I moved to Stanford University in California to take up the California Chair of Science in the School of Education.

The article that follows may help others to start their research in science education (and get published!)

Click here to see more from Jonathan Osborne.

7.3 Virginia Kearton

Head of Science at Court Moor School, Fleet, Hampshire

This article describes her route into science education research, following this pen-portrait.

I have a BSc. (Hons) degree in Physical Sciences and an MSc in Radiation and Environmental Protection, as well as a PGCE. I have taught science, particularly Chemistry and Physics, full-time and part-time in secondary schools in Hampshire, since 1976. I also taught Open University students for twelve years. I have been Head of Science at Court Moor School, Fleet, Hampshire since 2000.

I have completed two Best Practice Research Scholarships for the DfES and contributed to sessions at many ASE annual and regional conferences. I am a member of the PALAVA group at the School of Education, Reading University and the History and Philosophy of Science International group, both under the chairmanship of Dr. John Oversby.

I have been a member of ASE since starting teaching and a member of the Research Committee for the last three years. As a result of my research work and the reporting of it, I applied and was made a Chartered Science teacher in September 2008. At present I am a member of the National Steering Group for the Science Diploma. By taking part in ASE conferences I have met many researchers who I had known of only from the books they have written.

Click here to see more from Virginia Kearton.

7.4 Justin Dillon

King's College London

This article describes his route into science education research, following this biographical pen-portrait.

I am a senior lecturer in science and environmental education and head of the Science and Technology Education Group at King's College London. After teaching in London schools for 10 years, I joined the staff at King's, to work on the National Environmental Database project, in 1989. My PhD study was linked to this.

During the 1990s I co-edited two books aimed at PGCE students. But my research career began in earnest with a study of pupils' ideas about combustion followed by a study of the teaching of controversial issues. More recently I co-authored Science Education in Europe: Critical Reflections.

My second strand of research has focused on environmental education and I am currently engaged in co-editing the first ever Handbook of Research in Environmental Education.

As well as directing the ‘Border Crossings' research project, which is funded by the AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust, I am currently working on an ESRC funded five-year longitudinal study of young people's career choices and aspirations and an EU-funded project looking at factors influencing recruitment, retention and gender equity in science, technology and mathematics higher education. I was elected President of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) in 2007 for a four-year term. As well as being an editor of the International Journal of Science Education, I am on the editorial board of 10 science and environmental education journals.

Click here to see more from Justin Dillon

7.5 Wynne Harlen, OBE, PhD

ASE President for the Year 2009.

She has been a science educator and researcher and member of the ASE throughout her working life. She was Sydney Jones Professor of Science Education at Liverpool University 1985-1990 and then Director of the Scottish Council for Research in Education until 1999. She now has an honorary position as Visiting Professor at the University of Bristol although mainly working from her home in Scotland as a consultant to various UK and international projects. Her publications include 25 research reports, over 150 journal articles, contributions to 37 books and 27 books of which she is author or co-author.

Click here to see more from Wynne Harlen

7.6 Professor Michael Reiss

Professor of Science Education at the Institute of Education, University of London

This article describes Prof Reiss' route into science education research, following this biographical pen-portrait. It reviews in some detail his 5-year longitudinal study of a group of 11 year-olds as they studied science up to their GCSE.

He is Chief Executive of Science Learning Centre London, Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of York, Docent at the University of Helsinki, Director of the Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology Project, a member of the Farm Animal Welfare Council and editor of the journal Sex Education. He has been a Vice President of the Institute of Biology, Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures and Director of Education at the Royal Society.

Click here to see more from Michael Reiss

8. Useful websites when embarking on research

Teacher Training Resource Bank TTRB: http://www.ttrb.ac.uk/
Childline: http://www.childline.org.uk/
kidscape bullying site: http://www.kidscape.org.uk/
ERIC (Educational Resources Information Centre): http://www2.dialogatsite.com/
Social Sciences Information Gateway: http://www.sosig.ac.uk  http://www.intute.ac.uk/
CCTA Government Information Service: http://www.open.gov.uk
The National Foundation for Educational Research: http://www.nfer.ac.uk
HMSO: http://www.hmso.gov.uk
National Curriculum: http://www.nc.uk.net
National Grid for Learning: http://www.ngfl.gov.uk/
OFSTED: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk
QCA website: http://www.qca.org.uk/ca/foundation/foundation_stage_profile.asp
Schools plus document: http://www.dfee.gov.uk/schools-plus/
The Standards Site: http://www.standards.dfee.gov.uk
AlphaSearch (Library of subject-related gateway sites designed for serious, academic pursuit of Web information): http://www.calvin.edu/library/as/
COPAC (National Online Public Access Catalogue): http://copac.ac.uk/copac/
BUBL (A national information service for the higher education community): http://bubl.ac.uk
EDINA (National data centre offering the UK higher education and research community network access to a library of data, information and research resources): http://edina.ed.ac.uk/index.shtml
ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council): http://www.esrc.ac.uk
Educational Development Journals: http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/services/sas/library-services/subject-help/subjects/education/edupers.cfm
Higher Education Funding Council: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/
Higher Education Statistics Agency: http://www.hesa.ac.uk/
HERO Higher Education and Research Opportunities in the UK: http://www.hero.ac.uk/
HiED International (Higher Education Development International): http://edina.ed.ac.uk/index.shtml
UK Higher Education & Research Libraries The new listing of UK higher education and research library web sites: http://as.exeter.ac.uk/library/about/other/uk/
ultiBASE (University Learning and Teaching in Business, Art, Society and Education): http://ultibase.rmit.edu.au/
NASUWT: http://www.nasuwt.org.uk/index.htm
National Union of Teachers website: http://www.teachers.org.uk/index.php
Graduate Teacher Training Registry: http://www.gttr.ac.uk/
BBC education: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education
Drug education - BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/id/illegal_glossary.html
Times Higher Education Supplement: http://www.thes.co.uk/
The Times Educational Supplement: http://www.tes.co.uk
 
Published: 01 Feb 2009