Applying for an IEE Innovation Evaluation Grant
Teachers often try out innovations of teaching and learning practices with their pupils. Sometimes these are approaches that the teachers have developed themselves, either alone or in collaboration with colleagues in their school. Sometimes they are adaptations of approaches that have been proven to work elsewhere, which the teachers have altered to work with their particular pupils.
At the end of the autumn term, schools were invited to apply for Innovation Evaluation Grants. Awarded by the IEE, these grants were available to education settings that were working closely with the Research Schools Network to provide funding for pilot evaluations of innovations of teaching and learning approaches that support the Research Schools Network’s goal to improve the attainment of pupils by increasing the use of evidence-based practices.
We really enjoyed reading the innovation evaluation grant applications we received, and a wide range of interesting, school-led innovations were suggested. From providing two-year-old provision in a nursery setting to the use of audio feedback with Year 12 pupils – we were really impressed with the thought that applicants had put into how these innovations could be evaluated.
While the innovations and evaluation methods varied, successful applications all had a number of features in common. It was clear that working closely with their local Research School lead had helped successful applicants to consider the most robust ways to evaluate their innovation and ensured that they included the information we needed.
The next application round for IEE Innovation Evaluation Grants is currently open. If you’re considering submitting a proposal you might find the following summary of what to include in an application useful.
All successful applications clearly described:
Successful applications explained a challenge currently facing their school, which they wished to address.
The innovation was sometimes a new approach developed in-school to address the problem and currently used by some members of staff. Sometimes it was an approach that research indicates would address the problem but which had not previously been trialled by the school. In successful applications, we were able to understand what the intervention or innovative teaching practice would look like in the classroom/schools. Successful applications also included information about how staff will be trained to deliver the innovation and what will be done to make sure the innovation is delivered consistently in the different schools or classes involved in the research.
In successful applications, a clear explanation was given for why the innovation is likely to improve academic outcomes for pupils. This included reference to published research, theories about teaching and learning and, when available, within-school data indicating the potential benefits of the innovation.
The research design
All successful applications included a control group within their research design. A control group is a group of pupils who do not receive the innovation, but are similar to pupils who do (for example, they may be the same age, have similar levels of academic achievement, socio-economic background, levels of additional needs, or may attend the same school). The progress made by the pupils who receive the innovation (the intervention group) can then be compared with similar pupils who did not (the control group) in order to estimate the impact the innovation had on the outcomes being measured. Schools, classes, or pupils should be allocated randomly to the intervention and control groups where possible.
These innovation evaluation grants are designed to develop a body of evidence about strategies which support academic progress. Therefore successful applicants are planning to measure academic achievement, skills or knowledge, or factors which are likely to have a direct impact on academic development (such as attendance). All of the measures being used will provide objective, numerical data which can be statistically analysed. There is no expectation that highly complex statistical tests will be used, and we will be happy to help with statistical analysis.
Most successful applications will carry our assessments with a pre-test, post-test design. This means that pupils in both the control and experimental groups will carry out the same, or very similar, assessment before the innovation starts, and once the intervention group have been receiving the innovation for a pre-determined amount of time. In one project, data already held by schools (in this case maths GCSE results) will be used to check that the intervention and control groups had similar mathematical skills and knowledge at the beginning of the evaluation, meaning specific assessments for the evaluation will be taken by the control group students after the innovation has been delivered.
Alicia Shaw, Research Schools Facilitator, IEE
The next application round for innovation evaluation grants will close at 5pm on Monday 1st May. You can find more information here. If you are interested in applying for an innovation evaluation grant, or have an interesting idea and would like advice on how to evaluate it, please contact the Research School Lead at your local Research School or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01904 328108.