Henbury students become education researchers

Issue date: 01 July 2005

Issue date: 01/07/05

Students at Henbury School in Bristol have been helping their teachers and analysing their own learning experiences to improve the school and to draw conclusions about teaching and learning styles as part of a ‘Student Researchers Project’. The students will present their findings to staff, governors and parents from Henbury and guests from the local Education Authority including education chief, Heather Tomlinson at a special evening event on Tuesday 5 July.

The staff and students at Henbury have worked on the ‘Student Researchers Project’ with the support of education academics from the University of the West of England. Two training days were held at UWE in November 2004 and April 2005 where students learned new skills to improve academic achievement and promotion of learning in order to improve their access to higher education. The training days focused on improving presentation, evaluation and analytical skills, leadership skills and innovative approaches to learning. In addition to this the students also visited Nicholas Chamberlaine College in Warwickshire last July where they met with other student researchers there who had been involved in a similar project.

The training days formed the backbone for classroom sessions at school where the new skills were put into practice to help promote independent learning. The training sessions were lead by Lynn Raphael Reed, Dr Jane Tarr and Professor Ron Ritchie, Dean of the Faculty of Education.

Dr Jane Tarr said, “The students decided to look at three different topics - homework, inclusion and learning styles. We helped the students discover more about these areas in the school context by using standard research tools including observation techniques, interviews and questionnaires. We then helped them hone down their topic areas in the same way as a researcher might do in order to arrive at a specific area for investigation. Students were then shown how to collect data and present findings after analysis. I think the students particularly enjoyed interviewing their teachers and peers!”

Student Kaylie Braithwaite who has demonstrated a big improvement in research skills said, “I really enjoyed this course. Now when I research things I know how to set about it. The project has helped to bring students ideas to life. I think it will make our school a better place, and students helped which makes it even better.”

Gary Turner said: “I liked the training days at UWE and the new skills we learnt, particularly using power point to create a slide show. These new skills have really helped me to improve my work, especially my homework.”

Lesley Brentley, teacher at Henbury said, “The ‘Student Researchers Project’ has been an extremely useful experience for Henbury students. It was hard to find enough time within the school day, but students were very willing to work in their lunchtimes and at home. Their interview, questionnaire and observational skills have improved immensely. There has been a marked change in their confidence – some students presenting information next week have never been prepared to speak in front of others before. All the students are aware that their work has developed and improved, and are keen to carry on with the project next year.”


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