Fostering research engagement in partnership schools: networking and value creation

01 Dec 2017

© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The call for teachers and schools to become more research-engaged is resonating stronger than ever with government efforts to improve research impact and educational quality in the United Kingdom (UK) and many other countries. In these endeavors strengthening the social network structure and collegial relationships that enable collaborative research and learning in schools are often overlooked. This longitudinal, multi-method case study focused on understanding this pivotal social dimension. It examined in what way and to what extent research-engaged relationships are developed and value for practice is created among school colleagues. The context was a secondary school that is part of a longstanding school–university research partnership in the UK. Social network and survey data, school documents, individual narratives, and interview data were collected and analysed during one academic year. Results reveal that school leadership adopted an approach in which they combined the development of formal structures and informal networking to foster a significant increase in research-engaged interactions among school staff. Two key elements of the school–university research partnership were distinguished as powerful drivers of fostering research engagement. Outcomes show that the increased research engagement led to diverse types of value creation in both the core and periphery of the research network of school staff.