ITTE Computing/The contribution of research

This section looks at the contribution of research to the teaching of ICT as a subject. There are at least three reasons why you might want to look at, and review, research:

  • intellectual curiosity:

A critical review of the literature will enable you to understand what lies behind your trainee teachers attempts to learn to teach ICT and consider this in the light of general principles of teaching and learning. Further, by considering the research on ICT as a subject in its own right you, and your trainee teachers, will understand much better the reasons behind the evolution of the subject and the critical questions which teaching the subject seeks to address.

  • signposting implications for the classroom:

Accessing the knowledge base will give ideas on what has been carried out in the past, what is worth trying now and what are likely outcomes for teaching. For example, we all know that young people use ICT outside of school, but the extent of this use might not be known and the implications might not be clear without reviewing and accessing relevant research. A knowledge base cannot tell us how to develop our teaching but it can signpost opportunities and difficulties.

  • accessing models of carrying out research:

A key role of initial teacher education is to encourage trainee teachers to carry out their own research and draw their own implications for their teaching. Accessing past research will provide them with models for doing this. It will also provide you with models for your own research. ICT is a new subject and has only been offered as a PGCE specialism since 1997. There is a huge amount written about ICT in general but very little on teaching ICT as a subject. There is huge wider literature on which to draw and an enviable opportunity for you to set the research agenda for ICT as a subject.

The following page looks at accessing different types of research.

author: Michael Hammond email the author

Accessing different types of research edit

Commentators have classified research in different ways. We have taken three main categories though in practice there is, and perhaps should be, considerable overlap between each.

Refereed academic research edit

Generally undertaken by academics, this research appears in academic journals or conference proceedings. It is aimed at the academic community and only published after extensive peer review. Its focus is often on more general and long term issues. It seeks to review past literature so as the work it describes can be placed within a research tradition. Six international journals, particularly influential in the UK research community, are:

  • British Journal of Educational Technology
  • Computers and Education
  • Education and Information Technologies
  • Journal of Computer Assisted Learning
  • Journal of Technology, Pedagogy and Education, formerly JITTE
  • Learning, Media & Technology (incorporating Education, Communication & Information).

You can easily access information about these journals via the WWW, however you will probably find your library has a gateway for electronic access to some, if not all the journals, which gives you full text access to articles. An underused resource for tracking academic outputs related to ICT is the ESRC Social Sciences Repository ( Given the wide range of research which ESRC supports it is unsurprisingly not straight forward to locate particular work and you may be best just searching by education.

Professional studies research edit

Generally undertaken by academics or practitioner researchers, professional studies research often appears in edited volumes (e.g. Kennewell et al 2003; Kennewell et al 2007) or in professional journals and more magazine style journals . Such research is generally aimed at addressing more immediate issues faced by the profession but will often try to draw out general principles for teaching and may make fairly extensive reference to other work. However, it is less concerned with detailed discussion of research methodology or research traditions.

Commissioned Research edit

Many private or public bodies will commission evaluation studies in order to receive feedback on immediate questions. This research is aimed at particular audiences and, while drawing on wider research, will often make less reference to past literature or engage in detailed discussion of research methodologies.

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) ( was the UK Government's lead agency for ICT in education and its web site carried a wide range of resources for teachers. Becta also sponsored and carries out its own research for a wide range of audiences. For example, it produced a digest of research for professionals ‘What the Research Says’; large scale empirical studies (e.g. the Impact 2 work reported in Harrison, Comber, Fisher et al 2002a; Somekh, Lewin, Mavers et al 2002b), literature reviews (e.g.Cox, Abbott, Webb et al 2004) and evaluation of smaller scale initiatives and projects (e.g. Priest, Coe, Evershed et al 2004). It also hosted a discussion forum for research matters.

An area of their web site was dedicated to publicising research they have supported or sponsored ( Via Becta you may arrive at the Test Bed project site, this was supported by Becta but has a site of its own The project focused on ICT implementation in three areas of social disadvantage. The 28 ICT Test Bed Schools and departments in three colleges had access to high levels of ICT hardware and appropriate software, as well as support from the project. Project summaries are included on the site.

Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) ( is another resource of research into ICT mostly aimed at policy makers and the profession at large. It publishes reviews into the teaching of ICT and the impact of government ICT initiatives.

Futurelab ( is a not-for-profit organisation working with partners to generate new ideas about teaching with computers and carrying out its own research and support for teachers. Again it publishes reports and has commissioned some influential literature reviews.


  • Cox, M, Abbott, C, Webb, M, Blakeley, B, Beauchamp, T and Rhodes, V (2004). A Review of the Research Literature Relating to ICT and Attainment, DfES/Becta.
  • Harrison, C. , Comber, C., Fisher, T. et al (2002a) ImpaCT2 - The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on Pupil Learning and Attainment, Becta, Coventry.
  • Kennewell, S., Parkinson, J. and Tanner, H. (2003) Learning to Teach ICT in the Secondary School, Routledge, London.
  • Kennewell, S., Connell, A. Edwards, A., Wickens, C., Hammond M. (2007) A practical Guide to teaching ICT in the Secondary School, London: Routledge.
  • Somekh, B., Lewin, C., Mavers, D. et al (2002b) ImpaCT2 - Pupils' and Teachers' Perceptions of ICT in the Home, School and Community, Becta, Coventry.
  • Priest, J, Coe, R. and Evershed, B. et al (2004) An exploration of the use of ICT at the Millenium Primary School, Greenwich, Becta, Coventry.

author: Michael Hammond email the author