Enhancing learning by targeting learner needs

Research impact story

The application of research by Don Passey using strategic evaluation (evaluation that focuses just as much on future potential as it does on past outcomes), learning framework analyses (finding out about the detail of learning that arises, and where there are gaps as well as strengths), and a new concept of MEGAcognition (elements of learning that lead to or are identified or associated with 'wider and deeper' or 'expert learning'), has increased focus on the importance of process and context, to develop, customise and implement more appropriate educational resources through digital technologies.

Involving and influencing a number of key national companies and groups, users have initially been policy makers and developers, but ultimately teachers and learners in primary and secondary schools.

  1. Research has influenced policy and practice developments nationally and internationally (undertaken for the UK government department and e-strategy agency, and for 5 major resource development companies and corporations with international reach).

    For example: The government department of education funded research exploring the motivational effects on learners of using digital technologies. A key publication arising from the study, Passey's (2004) influential report (co-authored with Rogers, Machell and McHugh), continues to strongly inform the work of policy makers.

  2. Research has increased awareness of and engagement in learning opportunities (in at least 4 local authorities). A wide range of presentations involving hundreds of policy makers and practitioners over a period of more than 10 years has increased awareness and practice leading to wider teacher engagement.

    For example:  Passey fed back research study findings to Wolverhampton Local Authority about uses of their learning platforms and, as an E-learning Advisor in the Authority's Learning Technologies Team later stated, Passey's: “findings and recommendations have been used to inform future developments [about implementation of emerging technologies] and the City-Wide e-Strategy.”

  3. Research has built capacity (in 3 resource development companies and projects). This is demonstrated in reports from company personnel as well as those in local government agencies.

    For example:  One of the resource development companies is Espresso Education, providing digital resources for teachers to thousands of schools across the UK and internationally. In this video, Espresso Education have used Passey's research findings to explain outcomes of using their resources.

  4. Research has offered insights into ways to develop, refine and customise educational products for specific audiences (in at least 6 resource development companies and local authorities).

    For example:  A School Improvement Advisor in Worcestershire County Council indicated how insights impacted on virtual learning environment facilities provided for 58 secondary schools across two Local Authorities: “This work greatly influenced the direction of the project and made a significant impact on the quality of the service [forms of resources and interactions with schools] provided by the provider.”

  5. Research has raised awareness and understanding of educational concepts to non-academic audiences nationally and internationally (through more than 35 public and private seminars and keynote sessions).

    For example:  Non-academic audiences have included the BBC, and policy makers and politicians in events where outcomes of uses about digital online resources were presented at the House of Commons. For non-academic audiences in companies, Passey's research findings have been used, for example, by a learning platform company (LP+) to support their product use.

  6. Research has raised awareness of learning and pedagogical practices (in at least 6 major resource development companies and corporations). Findings of research studies have been discussed with and impacted on audiences such as product developers and sales managers.

    For example:  Passey conducted an evaluation study on RM Education's MathsAlive software. A senior manager from RM stated that the study had “provided the evidence of how technology can impact learning and has influenced the design [through research feedback of effective forms of interactions] of some of RM’s products and services.”