Enhancing learning together: the launch of Step Forward

Step Forward: Enhancing Learning Together

Blog post by Victoria Underwood, Head of Leadership, Governance and Research

When we launched the CDN Research and Enhancement Centre in April 2021, we not only said that we were aiming to drive new research and enquiry in the Scottish college sector but, more importantly, that we would work to ensure that the findings of our research were taken forward in a collaborative way for the enhancement of college progress and student success. Today, we take the next step in that journey.

In our first year of operation we have published research reports on school-college partnerships, college governance and the way in which colleges are helping to address the complex challenges of poverty in their communities. We have also published work on digital capabilities for college staff and interim updates from an exciting group of teaching-related action research projects.

With this initial group of research outputs published, we are now launching the most important part of the Centre’s work, the Step Forward programme for all college staff.

Step Forward will use the themes from the key CDN research reports to transform ideas into actions that will allow our colleagues in colleges to develop their practice and enhance the impact of their courses and services. Working together, as a sector, as a system, is at the heart of this programme and we will be supporting projects that bring together teams, colleges and partners right across Scotland and even beyond.   Enhancing learning together is our guiding principle.

The inaugural programme will support projects for development and delivery over the 2022-23 and 2023-24 sessions and will consist of strands related to our school-college partnership and poverty research work, as well as the key area of delivering the colleges’ climate change commitments.

Step Forward is, fundamentally, an action research programme. Action research involves practitioners investigating their own practice (that’s the ‘research’) and then using what they find out to make improvements (that’s the ‘action’). Engaging in action research will help participants to improve their practice, and sharing what they discover will help their colleagues across the country develop approaches they can use to help their learners too.

At the core of Step Forward is the desire to develop rigorous, transferable action research approaches that inspire practitioners in the sector as well as delivering exemplar projects that will support the practical application of CDN research and provide new opportunities for learners.

Participants in Step Forward projects will be encouraged to share their learning and research outputs via events, blogs and other media and will feed into case studies that will allow CDN to share the projects outputs more widely.

Participation in Step Forward will support our curriculum and support services teams with:

  • Co-creation of sector-leading services/ high impact learning approaches and materials with colleagues from across colleges and beyond.
  • Working together to find innovative ways to solve some of the key challenges that our learners face.
  • Making a sustainable difference to your area of work not just in your own college but across the whole sector.
  • Support and training to develop your research skills and take an action research approach to your professional practice.
  • Becoming part of Scotland’s colleges network of emerging researchers.

We will be sharing information about the first group of projects very soon – watch this space!

More information about Step Forward can be found on our website here

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