Pedagogical research

Pedagogical research is concerned with finding out about how learning takes place, so teachers can direct their energies into approaches which are likely to promote student learning (Reid, 2010).

Pedagogical research

As you try out different approaches to teaching and learning you are likely to ask yourself:

  • Am I making a difference to student learning?
  • What do students think about this approach?
  • How do students use this session to structure their future learning?


All of these questions are the starting point for pedagogical research.

Many types of activity fall under the umbrella of pedagogical research. These include evaluation studies, action research and mixed methods approaches. Projects may be small scale changes in a classroom or larger scale educational interventions across the whole curriculum. Most pedagogical research is carried out in a naturalistic setting and it can be difficult to control various variables without disadvantaging certain student groups.

Mixed methods approaches and quasi-experimental designs can be used to measure and explore the impact of an educational intervention. Whatever the approach, careful study design is necessary to ensure that the philosophical stance and methods are appropriate to the research question / aim.

Reasons why you may wish to engage in pedagogical research may include:

  • To support student success by ensuring that we know what techniques and approaches are effective in teaching and learning
  • To identify best practice and evaluate your role as a teacher
  • To contribute to the body of knowledge about what works in teaching and learning
  • Career advancement and to contribute as an academic to the Research Excellence Framework

More information

Email: celt@sunderland.ac.uk