Find out about the other research projects currently taking place at the Centre.
Since 2009 more than 6,000 teachers have participated in the Centre’s professional development programmes for teachers. We know that 84% of those teachers have rated the overall quality of our core CPD programme as excellent and more than 90% of those teachers have shared our materials with their colleagues.
The Centre’s recently published study What do students know and understand about the Holocaust? highlighted a number of misconceptions. Following on from this major piece of research, which draws on contributions from more than 8,000 11-18 year olds, our next step is to further explore how we can support teachers to improve their students’ knowledge and understanding of this important historical event. Consequently, from 2016 we will be examining the impact of our teacher professional development programme on students’ learning. As noted above, case studies with a small number of our Beacon School teachers suggest that our programme does improve students’ knowledge and understanding, however it is important that this is examined in a systematic and robust manner – using a quasi experimental approach.
This means we will be working with several schools who are delivering a number of our lessons in the classroom as part of a scheme of work. These schools will be our ‘intervention‘ schools. Researchers from our Centre will visit these schools and invite students to complete a survey before and after they have participated in these lessons.
Additionally, we will work with a number of schools who are not currently delivering our lessons and invite their students to complete surveys at around the same time as our intervention schools – these will be our ‘control‘ schools. The aims of this are twofold.
Firstly it will enable us to see how students’ knowledge and understanding changes from before to after participating in the Centre’s lessons. Secondly, by comparing the results from the intervention schools with results from the control schools, we can also explore the impact our lessons specifically.
In addition to this we will also conduct some focus groups with students to explore in more detail how their knowledge and understanding develops after participation in the Centre’s professional development programme.
Early preparations for the study have shown promising results:
Case study – Engagement and understanding
Nicola Strauther, of Oakwood High School, Rotherham, with a class of 27 students in year 9, aged 13-14, had recently taken part in the Centre’s Beacon School programme. Galvanised by her experience of the programme, Nicola designed a new scheme of work, drawing upon the workshops she had attended on the full-day CPD and a number of our twilight workshops.
A survey of students’ knowledge and understanding before and after the classes revealed the lessons having a significant impact. The results of this initial survey stand in stark contrast to the majority of young people who have studied the Holocaust, as revealed by our national study of students’ knowledge and understanding. We will be building on the results of this case study as part our assessment of the impact of the work of the Centre, as mentioned above.
Beacon Schools Evaluation
A central feature of the Centre’s Beacon School programme is to more closely understand how teachers and schools develop schemes of work and lesson plans focused on the Holocaust. The programme is designed to provide teachers with the space and support to critically evaluate, discuss and reflect upon key issues.
Since its inception the Centre has been conducting a detailed evaluation of the programme to find out more about the experiences of teachers and how their participation has contributed to them developing expertise in teaching about the Holocaust.
We recognise that each teacher’s experience will be different and this evaluation has helped us to gain more insight into these diverse experiences. In addressing these areas we have captured teachers’ accounts of the programme with:
- Questionnaires to track changes that teachers make to the content and delivery of Holocaust education in their schools (for example after attending a CPD event/seminar);
- Reflective diaries that teachers complete periodically to record their thoughts, ideas and/or concerns (or anything else they want to record) pertaining to their experience of the Beacon School programme and delivering Holocaust education;
- Individual interviews and focus group discussions where teachers talk about their experiences of the programme and how this will influence their teaching of the Holocaust.
This year we are introducing a new strand to the evaluation to explore how teachers’ participation in the programme influences their students’ learning. This will be done using surveys and focus groups to examine what students thought about their Holocaust lessons and to explore their knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust.