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Another set of insightful enquiries into aspects of classroom teaching and learning

Educational research encompasses a wide range of phenomena as well as diverse learning contexts. Educational enquiry draws upon theoretical perspectives drawn from such fields as psychology, sociology, philosophy, history, and economics among others, and also uses a spread of quite distinct (but often complementary) methodologies to build up a multitude of research designs. Many research journals in education, understandably, restrict the scope of contributions in some way: for example, limited to work in educational psychology; focusing on the primary phase; only reporting comparative studies, and so forth. 

JoTTER is inherently restricted by the nature of the studies reported because of the journal’s particular readership. JoTTER authors report from their placement experiences on the Post-Graduate Certificate in Education on one of the partnership programmes based at the University of Cambridge, where the University is partnered by maintained primary and secondary schools in comfortable travelling distance of Cambridge (as trainees spend 60 days at the University, as well as 120 days in schools working alongside qualified and experienced teachers). So, by the nature of those initial teacher education programmes, the context of a study reported in JoTTER will be formal schooling (rather than higher education, or life-long learning, or vocational education, and so forth.) The work will necessarily be undertaken within the context of the English school system, with its curricular and assessment standards, and the professional values and resource allocations associated with teaching in maintained schools in England.

Moreover, JoTTER authors are beginning their careers in teaching, and enquiry undertaken as part of their programme during professional placements has a particular focus on their classroom work rather than, say, systemic, policy matters or issues of school organisation and leadership. Given that the core focus of eduction is teaching and learning (Pring, 2000), this is perhaps not such a severe limitation. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that JoTTER does not include the full range of educstional research but rather publishes certain kinds of small-scale classroom-based studies.

This, however, still gives considerable scope for insightful and intelligent enquiry across a wide range of interesting and worthy foci (the range of foci of papers in the early volumes can be found in Taber, 2013, Table 5.2, pp130-131). Studies in the present volume, volume 7, explore issues of pedagogy in relation to student learning, including both innovative teaching and the testing of more widely recommended approaches. Issues of student motivation are considered - related to both innovative pedagogy (again) and issues of student identify. Student perceptions of learning activities, and their own metacognition are explored. Another currently high profile theme that can be identified is pupils' learning through creative activities. Perhaps an attentive reader might point out other significant themes represented in the present volume.

At one level then, JoTTER is limited in scope, as well as in the (teaching and research) experience of its authors. Yet the themes found in JoTTER compare in range and importance with those found in many journals intended for reporting the work of more experienced educational researchers. I would also suggest that the quality of writing, and the thinking behind it, matches that found in many more mainstream journals. I would therefore recommend this volume to readers, not just as an illustration of the enquiries undertaken by those preparing for teaching on research-informed M (Master’s) level courses, but also as a source of insightful and informative reflections on classroom teaching and learning.

Keith S Taber


Pring, R. (2000). Philosophy of Educational Research. London: Continuum.

Taber, K. S. (2013). Classroom-based Research and Evidence-based Practice: An introduction (2nd ed.). London: Sage