Improving outcomes for life

Understanding how to improve learner outcomes

To help people make progress in their lives through learning, it’s essential that we understand learning. What are the outcomes that matter most to people? And how can we design products and solutions that help them achieve those outcomes?

That’s why we’re the first learning company to put improving learner outcomes at the heart of everything we do. We've defined what effective outcomes look like in learning.

“Our mission is to help people make progress in their lives. It is only by focusing on outcomes for learners that we can truly understand if we are achieving that.”
Dr Kate Edwards, Senior Vice President – Efficacy & Learning at Pearson

Everything we do is based on evidence – not guesswork or assumption – and the results of our research always feed into product development. What makes one resource successful can often be transferred to another, improving quality across our whole portfolio. And our focus is always on helping people achieve what matters most to them. It’s why so many people trust us to guide their learning.

The Trust employs a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach which prioritises the involvement and insights of key stakeholders in partner schools and districts. Our approach is informed by a constructivist-interpretive paradigm and aligned with the principles underpinning the DBE’s policy frameworks.

Participants are partners

The expressed aim is capacity building through the provision of support to facilitate development.

Key questions which frame our research in under-served schools:

  • What factors impact on teaching and learning?
  • How do we address factors impacting on teaching and learning?
  • How do schools respond to quality support and development?

Participants include principals, SMT members, learners, district officials and other stakeholders including unions and SGB members. The nature of participation of each stakeholder depends on the level and intensity of engagement with the programme.

The research approach adopted involves ongoing cycles of formal and informal site-based support, monitoring, observation and reflection.

Baseline and support

PMET conducts a baseline study in each partner school prior to commencing any support interventions. Various quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques are employed to generate data on school functionality, and learner performance in Mathematics and Reading to Learn, to determine the support that a school needs.

Baseline reports are compiled based on these initial engagements, which include observation, focus group interviews, document analysis and learner assessments. The school-based reports, which are confidential are shared with schools in an appropriate manner.

These reports highlight strengths and outline areas requiring support in the following categories:

  • Community Factors
  • Attitudes and Relationships
  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment
  • Leadership and Management and
  • Learner Performance

The report shared with the district is an analysis of trends across the partner schools in the district.

Once reports are shared, the discussions with the teachers and the SMT shape the focus and design of support and development interventions that follow in the next three years. This collaborative engagement facilitates the development of a long-term school support programme aimed at enabling schools to achieve their core purpose of delivering quality teaching and learning. Emphasis is placed on implementing a learning-centred, participatory, problem-solving approach to school leadership, curriculum management, and teaching and learning, as embodied in current DBE policies.

Monitoring and evaluation through action research

As the programme of support is implemented, efforts to monitor interactions, interventions and progress are prioritised at multiple levels. These are captured through:

  • M&E tools that are shared with the principal and SMT
  • Quarterly progress reports to the district and unions
  • Annual reports to each school (Baseline and Impact)
  • Annual reports on district trends to the District (Baseline and Impact)

The developmental and participatory approach to M&E ensures the development of capacity and independent agency of teachers and SMT members within schools and districts, to enable programme implementation through ongoing, needs-driven, support-oriented, site-based, ‘action research’ cycles that involve ‘on-the-job’ practical training, modelling, mentoring, coaching, monitoring, reflection and feedback.

The overall objective of the research conducted by PMET is to create successful school, district and provincial support and development models that could be replicated in other under-resourced schools across districts and provinces.