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Recommended Educational Research Papers for Teachers to Read

My interest in educational research only really began when I spoke to the likes of Dylan Wiliam, Daisy Christodoulou, Doug Lemov, Robert and Elizabeth Bjork, Kris Boulton, Will Emney, Mark McCourt, Bruno Reddy, Greg Ashman and Tom Bennett for my Mr Barton Maths Podcast. Up until that point I guess had had been blindly going about my business, teaching based largely on gut instinct and the snippets of advice that had been popular throughout the first few years of my teaching career (learning styles, to name but one!). I had never really questioned whether what I was doing was the best for my students... until now (notice the pause for dramatic effect).

This page contains the academic research I have read to date that has influenced the way I plan and teach mathematics. I have divided it up into broad categories, but these are somewhat arbitrary due to the many interconnections between the papers. The recurring theme throughout everything reviewed on this page is trying to improve students' learning (defined as "a change in long-term memory" by Kirschner, Sweller and Clarke) using evidence based research. As well as linking to the original paper, I have also tried to summarise my main takeaway from it, explaining the practical ways it has changed the way I plan, teach and help my students.

Care must be taken when approaching educational research. There is just so much of it out there, and you can pretty much find a study or a piece of research to support any view you might hold. The problem is that any research conducted in laboratories may have questionable application to classroom environments, whereas any research conducted in classrooms is, by their very nature, prone to influence by many extraneous factors. Greg Ashman provides a very useful guide here explaining what he looks for when evaluating a piece of research. On this page I have tried to follow these guidelines wherever possible, but please be aware that I am as prone to bias as anyone!

Getting immersed in the world of research, together with speaking to the wonderful guests on my Mr Barton Maths Podcast has inspired me to write a book: How I wish I'd taught maths: Lessons learned from research, conversations with experts and 12 years of mistakes. The book is my attempt to distill all I have learned, and the practical changes I have made to my planning, lessons and thinking. It is published by John Catt Education Ltd, and can be bought via Amazon or directly from John Catt. I really hope you enjoy it.