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Education: The State of the Discipline. High-impact educational research

As part of the association’s major initiative, Education: The State of the Discipline, BERA has brought together 16 case studies to demonstrate the outstanding impact of educational research across a broad spectrum of settings.

Highlighting education as a vibrant and exciting academic discipline, the case studies are drawn from a range of UK institutions and researchers, recognising methodological and epistemological diversity. Examples have been assembled to reflect the impact of high-quality research on educational policy, practice and understanding, both in the UK and internationally, across early years, primary, secondary and higher education.

The case studies were selected from the 230 education-related impact case studies published on the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 website. A foreword by David James, chair of the REF 2021 Sub-panel, introduces the case studies and contextualises them in the broader outcomes of REF 2021 and its assessment of impact.

Education: The State of the Discipline is a major BERA initiative that aims to provide a clear, comprehensive account of the state of education as an academic discipline in universities; as a field of practice; and as a significant and central element of social and political policy in the four nations of the UK.

Research featured in this publication

  • Transforming how autistic pupils are understood, taught and treated in mainstream education settings: Developed a distinctive framework and pedagogy for autistic pupils and challenged the prevalent misconception that autism is a disorder, rather than a different way of being. 
  • Improving graduate outcomes: Conducted a multi-faceted investigation into the learning and labour market outcomes of graduates in England. 
  • Reshaping the effective delivery of early years and primary education in Wales: Improved the delivery and effectiveness of early years and primary education in Wales by providing evidence-based recommendations on how to enhance the Welsh government’s new Foundation Phase (FP) curriculum. 
  • Developing the Pupil Premium Toolkit: Developed an evidence-based resource for schools seeking guidance on improving learning outcomes, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. 
  • The Mediator Toolkit: Supporting mediators working with children using picturebooks in contexts of displacement: Changed the practice of third-sector employees, volunteers and teachers in Mexico, Egypt and Chile by training them to use the aesthetic and affective features of picturebooks to reduce the negative effects of displacement. 
  • Supporting young people’s aspirations and engagement in science: Proposed the concept of science capital and provided the foundation for the design and implementation of new policies and practices aimed at widening participation to science-related courses and careers. 
  • Evaluating and enhancing the quality of learning and teaching in higher education: Informed how higher education learning and teaching is evaluated and enhanced in both the UK and internationally. 
  • Monitoring and supporting pupils’ mental health and wellbeing: Studied the policies and practices that best support pupils’ mental health and wellbeing, and developed a universal measure of pupil mental health.
  • Transforming early education policy and practice: Transformed early childhood education and home learning policy, provision, practice and research in both the UK and internationally.
  • The mainstreaming and internationalising of shared education: Provided the basis for a model of collaboration between Protestant and Catholic schools in Northern Ireland that is focused on promoting reconciliation and school improvement.
  • The Sounds of Intent framework: Transforming the lives of children through the power of research-informed music education: Enriched the musical experiences and progress of children with special educational needs around the world.
  • Supporting parents to enhance early literacy development: Taught parents about early literacy development and what they could do to actively support their children.
  • Enabling second chance education for out-of-school children in Ghana and Ethiopia: Generated a better understanding of how to alleviate educational inequalities in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Advancing global gender equality through educational partnerships: Helped to create and sustain more gender-equitable, safe schools, with far-reaching effects on the safety and wellbeing of girls and boys in schools across eight countries in Africa.
  • The Paired Peers project: Improving access to the university experience and graduate careers for young working-class people: Contrasted working- and middle-class students’ experiences of higher education and the graduate labour market. 
  • Transforming modern foreign languages pedagogy in England: Made an important contribution to the widespread adoption of evidence-informed practice in the teaching of modern foreign languages.