Centre for Research in Educational Leadership and Management (CRELM)

Effective Classroom Practice: A Mixed Method Study of Influences and Outcomes

Project information

Start date

March 2006

Principal Investigator and

Professor Christopher Day

Research Fellows

  • Dr Elaine Regan
  • Dr Judith Gunraj

End date

February 2008


  • Professor Pam Sammons
  • Dr Alison Kington

Project Administrator

Mrs Joanne Towle


Project summary

The Effective Classroom Practice (ECP) study seeks to explore aspects of classroom practice and factors that contribute to effective teaching and pupil outcomes in primary and secondary schools. 

This study is a two-year multi-disciplinary, mixed method research project which builds on previous research into 'Variations in Teachers' Work, Lives and their Effects on Pupils (VITAE)'.

VITAE, an Associate Project of the Teaching and Learning Research Project (TLRP), was a four-year, DfES funded, longitudinal study of 300 teachers in 100 schools which identified factors that affected teachers' work and lives over time, relationships between these and measures of pupil progress and attainment. 

The ECP investigation takes account of the existing limitations of much of the research on teachers' work, lives and effective practices by developing a holistic design which enables a research-informed account and explanation of the relationships between teachers' histories, contexts, conditions and daily realities, both perceived and relative, in terms of pupils' classroom learning and attainments.

The research will make theoretical and methodological contributions to the study of teacher effectiveness and generate new knowledge which will have implications for policy, classroom practice and teacher development.

Aims of the study

The main aims of the study are to:

  1. explore effective and highly effective classroom practice of teachers in Years 2, 6 and 9, across different school contexts, professional life phases and ages in relation to observation of practice and professional, situated and/or personal factors which are perceived to affect observed practice over time
  2. identify, describe, analyse and explain the variation in effective primary and secondary school teachers' classroom practice using two different observational instruments and pupil and teachers' perceptions, focusing on English and mathematics teaching
  3. draw out implications from the findings of 1) and 2) above for policy, schools and teacher development

This study seeks to address the following research questions:

  1. What are the factors which influence teachers' classroom practices in primary and secondary schools?
  2. What are the relationships between teachers' perceived effectiveness and their classroom practice and organization?
  3. What are the similarities and differences in the factors that influence classroom practice in different school phases and subjects?
  4. What are the implications of this for key stakeholders who are involved in raising standards in schools?
  5. What are the relationships between observed classroom practice and school context in different school and teacher professional life phases?

Project design

The research team will work with a sample of 80 teachers from across England. The research involves two school-based visits; the first in the autumn term 2006, and the second in the summer term 2007. The principal aim of the visit is to talk to teachers about their teaching before and after an observed session.

In addition to the data collected from the 80 teachers, an interview will also be carried out with the headteachers of each participating school. There is also a pupil element to the design, involving a researcher-administered attitudinal questionnaire survey with pupils in each of the classroom observed, and a follow-up focus group with six to eight pupils.

Ethical conduct

Information about the aims, purposes and outcomes of the research will be provided to those centrally involved in the research activities, as outlined within the project's Code of Ethical Conduct. This Code of Ethical Conduct outlines the protocol with regard to Respect for Participants, Data Collection and Access and Ownership of the data.




Centre for Research in Educational Leadership and Management

School of Education
University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

+44 (0)115 951 4543