BERA Research Commissions

The aim of this major initiative is to identify and address issues of current importance to the study and practice of education. The Commissions will explore how educational research can respond to the challenges and opportunities raised by the changing nature of education across the four nations. The Commissions’ findings will provide both theoretical rigour and an evidence base that can help set the strategic direction and aspirations of BERA and influence how it engages with other learned societies, Research Councils, Government and the education community more broadly. 

In response to the open call to members to submit proposals, we were delighted to receive a high volume of exceptional applications (over 20) – in both quality and range. It made the selection process very tough as we were only able to select three outstanding proposals. However, we are confident that these Commissions will not only meet the brief but also have a lasting impact.  The three successful proposals are detailed below.  

We look forward to seeing the development of these commissions in the next year and how BERA can take forward the recommendations and outputs in the future.  All three have various events and activities planned and they will be advertised on the BERA website in due course. 

‘Cost, Value and Quality in Professional Learning: promoting economic literacy in medical and teacher education.’

This proposal is led by Vivienne Baumfield and Karen Mattick, co-leaders of the Centre for Research in Professional Learning (CRPL) at the University of Exeter.   This commission will invite a series of ‘expert witnesses’, representing a range of perspectives, to contribute to the interrogation of the types of evidence used in the evaluation of the relationship between the cost of provision for professional learning and impact on the value and quality of education. The overarching theme will be addressed in two intersecting contexts: the interface of education with economics, and between teacher education and medical education.

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Reviewing the Potential and Challenges of Developing STEAM Education through Creative Pedagogies for 21st Century Learning: how can school curricula be broadened towards a more responsive, dynamic and inclusive form of education?’ 

This proposal is led by Laura Colucci-Gray from the University of Aberdeen and includes a core team of Pam Burnard  (University of Cambridge), Richard Davies (Aberystwyth University), Donald Gray (University of Aberdeen): and Jo Trowsdale  (University of Warwick).  The focus of this commission is to explore, analyze and collate new understandings of science, how these relate and interface with changes in education and how this might enrich current debates.  Reconceptualising school science has crucial implications for pedagogic practices. Specifically the commission will explore:    

  • the changing conceptualization of science and arts, and the implications for science education;  
  • the relationship between formal school science as it is currently taught and the differential access to science knowledge affecting groups inside and outside schools; 
  • the potential of arts-based, creative pedagogies to foster inclusive, participatory and interdisciplinary learning in science.  

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Poverty and Policy Advocacy.

This proposal is led by Gabrielle Ivinson of the University of Aberdeen (soon to be of Manchester Metropolitan University), and builds on the relationships and work of leading academics across the four nations already engaged in work concentrating on policy deliberations on poverty, education and schooling.  The focus of this commission is to build an interconnected transnational network of research-active practitioners across the UK to engage in knowledge building about poverty and cumulative multiple deprivations as these find expression in education and schooling.  

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