Principal Investigator: Erin Murphy-Graham. Lead Organisation: University of California, Berkeley
The Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (Tutorial Learning System or SAT) model for lower and upper secondary school (gradesyear 7-12) provides a rare example of a cost-effective system of effective teaching and learning, particularly for rural areas. Results from a quasi-experimental impact evaluation found that students in SAT had 45% higher rates of learning than their counterparts in traditional rural secondary schools in Honduras (McEwan, et. al, 2015). SAT has operated in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Ecuador for over three decades, and functions as a public-private partnership between the government and local NGOs. In 2018, SAT was identified as a solution for the major challenges facing youth globally by "Generation Unlimited," which aims to ensure that every young person is in education, learning or employment by 2030.
For the past three years, our research on SAT has focused on identifying the system-wide features that make a critical contribution to effective teaching in rural Honduran secondary schools. We have conducted in-depth interviews with teachers (called "tutors" in the SAT program), observed tutor professional development/training sessions, and observed a small number of SAT classrooms, with a particular focus on teaching and learning in science (Shareff and Murphy-Graham, in preparation). However, our research has been significantly constrained because we have not conducted systematic classroom observation using a standardized observation tool. This was not only due to lack of financial resources, but also the the lack of an appropriate observation tool to capture elements of effective teaching in SAT. At our first RLO meeting in London, our research team learned of the work of Seidman and colleagues, and their development of the Teacher Instructional Practices and Processes System (TIPPS; Seidman, Raza, Kim, & McCoy, 2013; Seidman, et al., 2018), which is a tremendous contribution to the field of education research in developing country contexts. The current proposal for follow-on funds allows us to augment our research on SAT by applying TIPPS in SAT classrooms, as well as simultaneously enhancing impact and building capacity in Honduras. In the future, a cross-grant synthesis will allow our two research teams to co-produce outputs to reach a wide range of stakeholders and to co-author publications.
Our research findings from the previous RLO grant, augmented by this opportunity to extend this work, will allow us to understand what makes SAT an effective system of secondary schools in rural Honduras, particularly in terms of the recruitment, professional development and ongoing support of teachers. Through our research on SAT, we will generate key insights that can inform interventions to improve teaching and learning outcomes in developing countries (Murphy-Graham, 2018). This is a key area of interest for policy-makers and others in the international education community, who in support of Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education, seek models of high quality secondary education that can inform the design, delivery and expansion of grades 7-12. SAT responds to a number of key challenges identified that prevent quality teaching, including that there are two few teachers in rural areas, and that they lack knowledge and skills to teach effectively (DFID, 2018). The supplemental funds we are applying for will allow us to extend our work in Honduras to enhance research impact and build capacity among key researchers and education stakeholders.
Informed by the ESRC guide to maximizing impact, the work of the Impact Initiative, and our previous experience with research dissemination, we will design a strategy for impact with the following research beneficiaries; 1) Academic beneficiaries: Researchers from various fields including education, economics, demography, and gender studies (see previous section on "Academic Beneficiaries"); 2) The networks of technical experts/policy makers involved in funding decisions at the international level. These include charitable foundations (MacArthur Foundation, MasterCard Foundation), bilateral aid agencies (e.g. USAID, DFID), and multi-lateral aid agencies (e.g. Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank); 3) Charitable and voluntary organizations concerned globally, national, and regionally with the improvement of educational quality in low income countries; 4) The network of non-governmental organizations involved in implementing the SAT program in Honduras and internationally; 5) Children and youth in Honduras and elsewhere that live in marginalized settings and lack access to quality, relevant secondary education.
From the outset, we will work closely with our Honduran collaborators, who have primary academic appointments at the National Pedagogical University. We have been working with this Honduran team since 2008. They will be closely involved in the facilitation of a key stakeholder meeting, where we will invite representatives from the Secretary of Education's office and other educational experts (e.g. World Bank, USAID, DFID, IADB education officers). This seminar will allow us to fully ground the project in the local context, and to begin planning our dissemination approach.
If properly and strategically disseminated, this research has the potential to directly influence the design and delivery of high quality secondary education programs in Honduras and other low-income countries. Additionally, the research will benefit others attempting to measure dimensions of educational quality at the secondary level because it will be another context for the validation of TIPPS. Overall, this project will generate knowledge about how the transformative power of education can be fully tapped to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and youth.
When we have results, we will work closely with the research unit hosting this project at UC Berkeley, the Graduate School of Education (GSE), which has extensive experience with disseminating innovative research that drives effective educational policy and programming. In addition, we will present findings and share working-papers with program officers at charitable foundations and other funding agencies. In particular, we will conduct outreach to the Education Donors Group and the newly-created Building Evidence in Education group. In addition to these targeted outreach activities, we will present our findings at international conferences including UKFIET and CIES and top international universities.