Shared Space: Developing ‘powerful knowledge’ of inter-religious dialogue through a teacher fellowship model for RE specialists
A teacher fellowship model for Religious Education (RE) specialists
This subject-specific knowledge exchange project seeks to develop a teacher fellowship model for Religious Education (RE) specialists as a new approach to pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).
Such an approach offers an alternative to traditional sit-and-get models of professional development by addressing two established concerns in RE: the lack of rigorous subject knowledge held by RE teachers in England; and the knowledge that while good RE in schools can promote community relations, this is unsupported in practice (Orchard, 2015).
OFSTED (2021) recognise that “at both primary and secondary level, pupils should be taught by teachers who have secure subject and curriculum knowledge” and that key to this is the provision of high-quality subject-specific professional development based on RE pedagogy, content and knowledge supported by relevant research (OFSTED, 2021).
This project aims to explore the potential of developing an alternative ‘powerful’ knowledge exchange approach established by the Historical Association (HA) to develop RE specialist teachers’ knowledge of and beliefs about their subject and how to teach it through encounters with university academics engaged in cutting edge research.
The fellowships proposed for this project focus on the academic field of inter-religious dialogue, connecting researchers and RE specialist teachers through education-focused knowledge exchange across pedagogical, subject and research expertise.
QCA expertise among education scholars is at a stage of relative infancy.
The potential of this innovative approach has yet to be fully harnessed in education.
Underpinning this project are the principles of knowledge exchange and the development of the Shared Space Project, a joint initiative, by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) and the University of Bristol, exploring the best ways of promoting community relations within RE lessons. For more information see The Shared Space Project at NATRE.
QCA as a methodology for collaborative data analysis
This current project also seeks to develop Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) as a methodology for collaborative data analysis bringing together academic staff, teachers, and wider groups and communities, to increase research impact. In a recent review of QCA in education research, Cilesiz and Greckhamer (2020) highlighted that, to date, limited educational research takes advantage of the potential of QCA as a method that conceptualises and empirically examines potentially complex causal relations. Indeed, they note that “QCA expertise among education scholars is at a stage of relative infancy” (Cilesiz and Greckhamer, 2020, p.340).
However, a pilot study to explore the utility of QCA as a methodological approach for collaborative qualitative education research concluded that QCA presents an opportunity for education researchers to carry out small and medium-N studies with results presented in a format more akin to quantitative methodologies while retaining the in-depth case knowledge favoured by many qualitative researchers (Orchard, Bowen and Williams, 2021 – unpublished). In sum, “the potential of this innovative approach has yet to be fully harnessed in education” (Cilesiz and Greckhamer, 2020, p.358).