Strengthening Pedagogical Approaches for Relevant Knowledge and Skills

SPARKS explores how mindsets, values, experiences, systems, structures, and other intangible factors influence pedagogy in local contexts through collaborative research.

A teacher and elementary school students examine a model windmill in the classroom.
Preschool-age children examine leaves with a magnifying glass.
Three high school students sit on the ground outside studying and talking.

Improving education quality, especially in international education development, has often focused on teacher professional development (TPD) to change classroom practices.

However, despite investment, advocacy, and emphasis on TPD, we have yet to see changes in pedagogical practice in most classrooms worldwide because they do not often address the more intangible, socially influenced aspects of pedagogy that we call “invisible pedagogical mindsets” (IPMs).

The Strengthening Pedagogical Approaches for Relevant Knowledge and Skills (SPARKS) project is a collaborative mixed-method research initiative and global network focused on examining the gap between research, policy, and classroom practice in primary and secondary education around innovative pedagogies in three purposefully selected locations.

The SPARKS project has a two-pronged approach:

  1. Research Policy Collaboratives (RPCs). The SPARKS-RPCs will bring together policymakers, educators, researchers, families, and other stakeholders within the local educational ecosystems to discuss the role of invisible pedagogical mindsets (IPMs) in shaping classroom practice. These collaboratives bring together diverse stakeholders to bridge the gap between research insights, policy formulation, and effective classroom implementation within each local setting. RPC members will collectively identify research priorities, craft methodologies, perform in-depth analyses, and engage in discussions regarding the far-reaching policy implications and dissemination strategies of their findings.
  2. Global Network (GN). The SPARKS-GN brings together the members of the three RPCs to participate in dialogue and discussions, promote knowledge-sharing across countries and systems, amplify local perspectives on pedagogies, and produce knowledge products about IPMs as they relate to classroom practice across country contexts. This space will facilitate co-creation of insights with a focus on the chain between policymaking and classroom practice.

SPARKS will create space for locally led discussions and dialogues through a collaborative research approach about IPMs and the systems and structures that surround them. By creating these spaces, the project hopes to focus the attention of various stakeholders on the role that IPMs and collaborative research play in education system transformation.

For further information related to the SPARKS project, read the concept note or contact one of our team members.

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