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 a 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 Research Labs

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.

The paper will soon be 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 by the development of new networks.

This lab was led by Mauricio Pino-Yancovic (University of Chile) who is a co-coordinator of CREN and a member of PLN. The lab was also coordinated by Cindy Poortman (University of Twente), Joanne Neary (University of Glasgow) and Kevin Lowden (University of Glasgow). This lab supported the work of researchers to analyse the governance, mobilisation of knowledge and outcomes of schools 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.

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 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: Two of the for lab groups are working on fairness and equality and teacher professional agency with country profiles. CREN Network leads Melanie Ehren and Chris Chapman published a blog in August 2020 about the challenges related to high stakes exams.  Additionally, three of the lab participants presented a paper they begun in the lab to the AEA-Europe Conference in November, ‘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: [email protected]