An investigation of teacher knowledge of and engagement with educational evidence

  • Ewan MacRae

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis investigates the knowledge of, and engagement with, evidence amongst teachers of GCSE chemistry in England. It has a particular focus on examining measurements of teacher knowledge and engagement with evidence and also looks at predictors for performance on measurements of teacher knowledge and engagement with evidence. The study took place during and after the implementation stage of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) which evaluated the SMART Spaces programme. As such, the study also provides an RCT of whether participation in a trial increases knowledge and engagement with evidence. A reliability and validity analysis revealed weaknesses in existing measures of knowledge of evidence for primary and secondary teachers. The study also showed that there is some correlation between teachers’ years of experience, their highest educational level, their specialism, and the percentage of pupils in their school eligible for free school meals (FSM%) with their knowledge of educational evidence. The main conclusions of the thesis were that pre-existing measures of teachers’ knowledge of and engagement with evaluation-based evidence require further development. There is some potential to predict teacher performance on this measure but only up to approximately 4%. Participation in an RCT does not appear to provide evidence for increasing knowledge and engagement with evidence.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorKaren Kerr (Supervisor) & Liam O'Hare (Supervisor)


  • Teachers
  • educational evidence
  • knowledge
  • engagement
  • RCT

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