Research underpins all that we do both inside and outside the classroom...
At the Barker Institute, we encourage staff and members of the community to undertake research in relevant and meaningful ways. We take the view that there is data all around us that can be used to inform all the things we do, whether a large scale project or a small vignette of commentary from a classroom lesson. It may be a class-based ‘action research’ project, a small case study or a large longitudinal study. At the Institute, research is collaborative and often involves teams of teachers or faculties, working as partners on the larger initiatives across the School. It is here that we aim to connect our work with the emerging thinking so that we are constantly informing all aspects of our practice and engagement with our students. At present we have partnerships with various institutions including The Shakespeare Reloaded Project with the University of Sydney and Professor Liam Semler. Similarly, we are engaged in working with the Teachers Channel Research Project at Macquarie University working with Dr Michael Cavanagh. We are also a partner with Melbourne Girls Grammar - Centre for Educational Enterprise, which seeks to develop collaborative work with schools around the world. In 2017, the Barker Institute is also working with Caulfield Grammar School as we develop our collaborative NELP (National Emerging Leaders Program). Another initiative in 2017 saw the leaders in Innovation and Research from Barker College - NSW, Prince Alfred College- Adelaide, The Geelong College - Victoria, Guildford Grammar School - WA and (Churchie) - Anglican Church Grammar School - QLD meet for the first time to share thinking and look to develop national collaborative research opportunities.
Many staff at Barker College are currently engaged in a range of research projects as part of ongoing school-based initiatives or as part of their own post-graduate study. Many of our staff regularly present their work locally, nationally and internationally at conferences and events throughout the year. Recently, Dr Brad Merrick and Dr Greg Cunningham presented and published the paper titled "Building Shared Understandings, capacity and self-reflection through a whole school coaching model" at the ACER Excellence in Professional Practice Conference. Similarly, The Head of Barker College, Mr Phillip Heath regularly presents at conferences and in various school settings. This sharing in reporting of research amongst our staff is an important aspect of the ongoing professional learning that exists across the School. At present, some of our staff are also undertaking the Action Research Pathway for their Experienced Teacher accreditation.
Each year, the annual Post Graduate Forum is where staff present their research to the Barker community and in 2017, the 10th anniversary of this event was reached. Another exciting research project completed was the Ten Year Longitudinal Study of the boys who commenced their learning at Barker in 2008. Each year since 2008, the Director of Research in Learning and the Barker Insitute has interviewed these boys. The findings were analysed and written up for a special presentation. As Barker develops partnerships with other communities we continue to explore the efficacy of the work and experiences of both our staff and students. In 2018, we are in the fourth year of research into out Extended Stay Program, where both our girls and boys spend several weeks in Alice Springs and share time with Yirara College and the students there.
As Barker develops partnerships with other communities we continue to explore the efficacy of the work and experiences of both our staff and students. The first Barker Insititute Journal Research in Practice was published at the end of 2017.
Barker has been involved in a number of external research initiatives including studies with Harvard University into the Teaching for Understanding framework combined with ongoing studies that include collaborative ventures with external students from universities and other institutions. Our whole school professional learning focus will often investigate emerging aspects of learning within the school environment, while drawing on current commentary and practice from large bodies of research, such as the ‘Visible Thinking’ work undertaken by Professor John Hattie, ‘GRIT’ by Dr Angela Duckworth and 'Mindset' by Professor Carol Dweck. Some of the areas currently being examined include the use of technology - blended learning, sleep deprivation, staff pedagogy and professional learning, formative assessment, motivation systems, co-curricular activities and their relationship to academic success, feedback, goal-setting and student engagement.
The role of research at Barker is pivotal as it provides an ongoing reference for the development of professional learning, strategic planning and the work we undertake with co-education across the whole school into the future. Through the examination of the rich data that surrounds us at Barker, we strive to understand the achievement, motivation and learning approaches that our students employ combined with the pedagogies our teachers embrace. We also try to understand how the experiences in which our students engage, impact their success and long term future. In the future, the Barker Institute will look to undertake studies with ex-Barker students to track their careers and future.
Barker College acknowledges that student-based self-regulation, passion, engagement, combined with an appropriate level of motivation, impacts upon all tasks that students undertake. By embedding our day-to-day practice in research and ‘informed’ practice, Barker College aims to understand and to refine the connection that exists between students and teachers each day.
Please contact the Barker Institute if you are interested in developing a research initiative with us.