Online Research Labs

Online research labs are a collaborative research initiative with the aim of providing insights into how the pandemic is changing (aspects of) education in the short and long term. Research labs are structured in three or four-session webinars that will encourage active participation of participants during sessions, as well as in between sessions in collecting and sharing information about their own systems. Throughout the sessions, participants will define research questions they want to explore, collect data, and report back with the aim of producing new knowledge. The outcome is one (or more) paper(s) to be published in an academic journal and practitioner-oriented outlet (to be decided by the group). Key messages from the sessions will also be shared through regular ICSEI channels (newsletter, website, twitter, linkedin). Papers can include empirical work, but can also be essays, position papers or presentations of narrative cases.

The online research lab provides a unique opportunity to engage with international colleagues around a theme and answer a set of pressing questions about the current crisis through a structured and reflective approach.

Current and Previous Research Labs


Relationships in and beyond schools: Implications and opportunities for learning and wellbeing of students, teachers, school leaders and families

The International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI), through the Crisis Response in Education Network (CREN), invites you to be part of a research lab to explore and study collaboratively with the purpose of developing knowledge and generating ideas to affect change. In a collaborative effort to link research and practice, that leads to decision-making based on evidence, this research lab offers a space for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to collaboratively develop ideas for a wide range of knowledge creation and/or mobilisation activities that explore the potential of relationships within and beyond schools for the learning, development and wellbeing of students, teachers, school leaders and families.

This is a virtual research lab structured to promote effective communication, knowledge exchange and collaboration among participants from around the world. The lab is open to researchers, policymakers, and practitioners, including school leaders, teachers and other school staff. Participants who sign up are asked to make a commitment to attend and participate in all four monthly sessions, hosted between September 2023 and January 2024, and to work in small groups between the sessions on the project you and your peers develop. The lab sessions will be hosted in English and thus participants will need to be comfortable participating and collaborating in this language. 

For a more information about this exciting new research lab, click here.

Research Lab co-conveners

The Role of Education in Climate Change

A team of researchers and practitioners from six different countries is currently developing a research lab focused on examining the role of education on climate change. They aim to answer among other questions: How can we improve our curriculum, assessment, school leadership, teacher training, and professional development to promote positive change? And, how can we empower the next generation to contribute to this cause?


Teaching profession during and after the COVID-19 pandemic:
Understanding the long-term consequences

In this research lab, participants explored how the teaching profession and the “social contract” among teachers, students, and parents are being transformed by the pandemic and the variation across national contexts.

This research lab consisted of 13 academics and practitioners from 10 countries (Netherlands, Canada (Ontario and British Columbia), England, Wales, Australia, U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, Indonesia, Italy and Chile). 

Over 4 sessions, participants worked towards a paper titled “Teaching in the COVID-19 era: Understanding the opportunities and barriers for teacher agency,” which describes and explains the various responses of teachers and ways in which their profession has changed across these countries. The paper aimed to develop a better understanding of teacher agency in meeting the challenges of the pandemic and the physical and relational enablers and constraints of their environment.

Lab outputs: The paper was published in the journal Perspectives in Education.


Understanding school networks reconfigurations to cope and rethink educational systems during and after the COVID-19 pandemic 

CREN partnered with the ICSEI Professional Learning Networks (PLN) to conduct this research lab in autumn 2020. While the COVID-19 virus has shocked society and educational systems, it has also incited new opportunities for collaboration, accelerating the cooperative process for teachers and principals to work and learn together to address the social and educational challenges they face. The focus of this research lab was to analyse how teachers and school leaders have faced the challenge of continuing to support their students’ learning at a distance by organising school networks, refocusing their goals or developing new networks.

This lab supported the work of researchers to analyse the governance, mobilisation of knowledge and outcomes of school networks in different countries from a global perspective, including England, Kenya, Greece, Netherlands, Chile and Scotland. Thus far participants from the lab produced one white paper, an international symposium and are in the process of writing and publishing an academic research paper.

This lab was led by Mauricio Pino-Yancovic, Cindy Poortman, Joanne Neary and Kevin Lowden. 

COVID-19 and standardized assessments: short and long term consequences

In many countries, standardized summative assessments were cancelled when schools needed to close to contain the spread of COVID-19. As these assessments are used to make decisions on the progression and/or qualification of students and to evaluate/monitor teacher and school quality, alternative measures had to be put in place to make such decisions. This research lab allowed ICSEI members to explore the short and long-term consequences of these cancellations for students, teachers, schools and school systems (e.g. monitoring of progress, decisions on grade repetition, awarding of grades and qualifications, teacher and school evaluation/accountability). The research lab also considered relevant means to mitigate some of the unintended consequences of these changes and ways to improve standardized assessment in the future.

Lab outputs: CREN Network leads Melanie Ehren and Chris Chapman published a blog in August 2020 about the challenges related to high-stakes exams.  Three of the lab participants presented a paper they began in the lab to the AEA-Europe Conference in November 2020, ‘Issues related to Education and Assessment Systems in a Context of COVID-19: reactions, experiences and Challenges for 2021 and Beyond’. For further information about this CREN workstream, please contact Melanie Ehren at: [email protected]