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Research-based learning

In the context of this listing, research-based learning refers to involving learners directly in authentic research projects. This has an impact on a variety of levels. The learner potentially gains significant motivation as a result of their participation in real-life research. This has been seen to be the catalyst for learners to delve deeply into topics.

In addition, through their involvement in actual research, the learners become knowledgeable about the nature of research and their role as researchers. Research techniques are introduced to the learners in as many contexts as possible, in order to develop their skills of interpretation, analysis and application.

More detail:

IRIS outlines their vision for involving learners directly into research projects:

The Research Institute for Schools

Our vision: a transformation of the student and teacher experience of science. Being involved in real science inspires young people and is the best professional development for teachers.

Thanks to ever more powerful technology, today's school students can access top level scientific data, collaborate with scientists around the globe, process information at lightning speed and develop innovative experimental ideas. They can put an experiment in space and contribute to scientific discovery. IRIS helps students and their teachers do this.

From our work to-date, we find when sixth form students take part in research, greater numbers go on to study science at university and take up careers in science and engineering.


An excellent example of a research-based learning approach is the UK Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS: http://www.researchinschools.org):

IRIS makes cutting edge research projects open to school students and their teachers so that they can experience the excitement and challenge of science. We do this by making data accessible to schools, providing teacher training and resources, and by lending out scientific research equipment.

Another example comes from Warwick University in the UK:


In Research-based learning, research is regarded as a theme which underpins teaching at a range of levels. As well as incorporating outcomes of research into curricula, it includes developing students' awareness of processes and methods of enquiry, and creating an inclusive culture of research involving staff and students.

CPOM helps school students become Earth Observation researchers

A new project launched by IRIS is offering students the chance to contribute to scientific understanding of the polar regions. Funded by the UK Space Agency, MELT will allow schools to monitor changes at the poles using Earth Observation data.

Experts… will be helping students to understand the latest satellite Earth Observation data and investigate events such as iceberg calving, where recent dramatic changes suggest that environmental conditions have changed.

Dr Hogg said: “There are really exciting opportunities for students to work with Earth Observation scientists on major changes. We used Sentinel-1 satellite data to watch a giant iceberg four times the size of London broke free from Antarctica’s Larsen-C ice shelf in 2017, and now students can use the same data to measure if new icebergs calve off some of the fastest flowing glaciers in the world!”

Web resources:

Professor Becky Parker Introduces IRIS

IRIS helps increase girls taking engineering degrees by 200%

Teaching Research Method Using a Student-Centred Approach? Critical Reflections on Practice 


The intention would be to use research-based learning in a variety of ways. The vision will go broader than science. With a belief in the importance of authentic contexts for learning, as much as possible self-directed learners will be encouraged to take up any opportunity for involvement in industry-based research, whatever the relevant area of knowledge.

Less self-directed learners are encouraged to develop data based on research into issues or challenges. The intention is to develop both a mindset of research, but also the skills of research.