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Working as a researcher | Blending theory and practice

Updated Thursday, 30th July 2020

Read through the following sections and consider how you might use the ideas to help you develop as a researching professional.


The comments from other EdD students might give you insight into how they approached these areas. As you read the sections make a note of any actions and add them to your Researching Professional Development Plan. You can then discuss your action plan with your supervisor and revisit it at the end of the EdD year.

Applying a research mindset in the workplace

What others said:

When I set up new initiatives at work I am more thorough and … definitely far more strategic than I ever was, without a shadow of a doubt. I do mini versions of things – dissertations, action research projects and case studies, even small things but it makes such a difference because it gives you, it is more focused. For example, when I did Student Voice, the reading I did around it showed me the use of Student Voice in participating and consultation. So two areas, but just having those two areas to focus on made my action plan so much better.

[EdD student, Year 1]

One of the most significant changes is apparently now in meetings when someone says to me ‘research shows... ’ I instantly say ‘what research?’ and ‘you show me how it shows that’ so I think I am more explicit in my requirements to understand how a particular piece of research supports or doesn’t support something.

[EdD graduate]

Points for you to consider:

  • How might you develop your research mindset at work? What actions could you plan to achieve this in the coming year?

Sharing ideas at work to inform research

What others said:

[When I shared my research] the staff … gave me the idea to include a parent survey, a questionnaire that I am doing in a few weeks time. … I was collecting student perceptions and then I thought ‘no, I need to widen this out and look at parent perceptions as well’.

[EdD student, Year 1]

I led several workshops with the staff at my school. … It was really useful doing the workshops because then people were able to give ideas, things that they had tried and had worked, so I was able to incorporate some of those ideas into my thesis.

[EdD graduate]

Points for you to consider:

  • How might you share your research findings in an attempt to get input and feedback from colleagues in the coming year?

Sharing research ideas to help colleagues see the benefit of the research

What others said:

I [shared my research findings because] I wanted my colleagues that have participated to realise that yes there is a purpose to this, this is what happened, this is what the combined data shows. What do you think? What are your ideas? How can we move on? … I have [also] shared my findings with the students on various occasions in my classrooms … I wanted them to see that the teachers do care and that we are trying to do something for them.

[EdD student, Year 3]

As I was finding out different things I was feeding it back to the staff, and then I became the co-ordinator at the school and I did workshops with the staff about how we could change our teaching, what other materials or what other approaches we could use to help get those basic skills in place for those children.

[EdD graduate]

Points for you to consider:

  • How much have you shared your research findings in an attempt to get support for your research from colleagues?
  • What more could you do during the next year?

Research helping to put practice into perspective

What others said:

The more I reflected on what I had been doing the more both sides were coming together. … So then I realised that what this academic background does is provide a kind of substance to the practice that I wanted to introduce or to improve.

[EdD student, Year 2]

When [anyone] relates [research] to their own practice it puts their practice in perspective much more and the key is certainly, I think, to link theory and practice. What any new student would seem to need to do, is to not reject one or the other but to recognise that both are linked.

[EdD student, Year 2]

Points for you to consider:

  • In what ways has your research helped you develop your own practice?
  • Is there more you could do to bring the research and practice aspects together?

Using skills used by supervisors

What others said:

What was really funny is that this week I have 12 Masters theses that have been sent in as a draft version and I am still catching myself saying ‘OK how would [my supervisor] kind of formulate this’.

[EdD graduate]

My first supervisor she was so critical but so thorough in the way she did it so now when I am supervising my students who are writing their theses etc. I can find myself imitating what she was doing with me. She was at such a level of professionalism it was such an example for me to follow.

[EdD graduate]

Points for you to consider:

  • At work have you ever found yourself unwittingly doing as your supervisors would do?
  • What have you learnt from this experience?
  • Could you plan to make use of your supervisors’ comments in new ways?

This section has been about ‘blending theory and practice’. Before moving on, have a final look at the actions you have added to your Researching Professional Development Plan as a result of working through this section. Will your planned actions help you move forward over the coming year? Will they help you in your work as a researcher? Are there any other actions that you feel might help you?

Return to the Researching Professional Development Framework.

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