Citizen Literacy

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Practitioner Research

Practitioner-led Action Research

We have led national practitioner research programmes in England since 2014. Our programmes aim to support teachers, trainers, support workers and managers from post-16 learning providers to:

  • develop rigorous, transferable action research approaches that inspire sustained professional development for all practitioners in the sector; and
  • generate learner-friendly strategies and resources that address critical issues in current post-16 provision. 

This year we are facilitating the Step Forward programme on behalf of CDN supporting Scottish Colleges. There will be three thematic strands to the programme with the first (current) being transitions. In future cycles of the project, practitioners will explore themes of tackling poverty and climate change.

Find out more about previous and current practitioner research programmes by selecting the titles to the right.





Action research is just a couple... It's you, and us, in collaboration that will make the world a better place

  • Step Forward

    Step Forward is the CDN Research and Enhancement Centre’s action research programme; enhancing the practice of college practitioners by providing opportunities to undertake their own action research projects, and nurturing Scotland’s emerging network of college researchers.

  • Doing Action Research: A Guide for Post-16 Practitioners

    Written as part of the Outstanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment (OTLA) action research programme, this guide is written in an accessible and straightforward way that we hope will help put aside any worries you may have about doing research in your own practice.

  • OTLA 8 (English, ESOL + EDS)

    This is the final phase of the OTLA (Outstanding, Teaching, Learning and Assessment) action research projects funded by the Education and Training Foundation. With partners: NATECLA, That Reading Thing, Skills for Life Network + Real Time Education.

  • EDS 1

    A short action research programme focussing on Essential Digital Skills (EDS) in further education/ community learning contexts, on behalf of the Education and Training Foundation. With partners: That Reading Thing and Skills for Life Network.

  • OTLA 7 (English and Maths)

    This is the seventh phase of OTLA (Outstanding, Teaching, Learning and Assessment) projects funded by the Education and Training Foundation. 36 projects are researching approaches for teaching English and Maths in the post-16 sector.

  • OTLA 6 (English)

    This was the sixth phase of OTLA (Outstanding, Teaching, Learning and Assessment) projects funded by the Education and Training Foundation. Twelve projects researched new approaches for teaching English in the post-16 sector.

  • OTLA 4 (digital)

    In 2018, we supported action research projects focussing on digital practices in post-16 contexts, working with our partners the Newcastle College Group. 19 organisations collaborated across 5 projects on topics as diverse as ‘unlocking social capital to support outcomes in maths and English’ to ‘engaging staff with using digital technology within teaching, learning and assessment’.

  • OTLA 3 (North East + Cumbria)

    As part of OTLA Phase 3, working in the NE of England and Cumbria, practitioner-led action research took place with a focus on attainment, retention and progression. Thirteen projects took place,  involving 42 providers and over 200 practitioners from colleges, adult and community learning, offender learning, third sector and independent training providers.

  • PLAR 2

    Working with a team from emCETT, we supported 63 providers through the Education and Training Foundation’s Practitioner Research Programme to to undertake practitioner–led action research.

  • PLAR 1

    Working with a team from emCETT, we provided blended support through the practitioner–led action research programme to 63 practitioners or groups of practitioners from organisations, reflecting the diversity of the education and training sector across England.

Situating Practitioner Research

The Padlet nest below includes links to three Padlets:

  • OTLA Showcase with blogs, podcasts, articles, presentations and other publishings from past and present OTLA cohorts.
  • Coffee Time Reads includes a variety of quick reads and recommendations relating to research
  • Reading Recommendations is a list co-created by teachers from FE, for teachers in FE (and beyond). It contains a vast range of reading recommendations.

From Our YouTube Channel