The Research Culture Masterclass is a one-day workshop that will assist school leaders in meeting the AITSL Principals’ Professional Standard through the Professional Practices of:

– Leading teaching and learning,
– Developing staff and others, and
– Leading improvement, innovation and change

It will focus on the nature of practitioner research and the development of sustainable research culture and evidence-based decision making in schools.

School-based research culture is acknowledged globally as an essential feature of effective schooling and high performing school systems. A sustainable research culture in schools requires knowledgeable and supportive leadership to facilitate the development of research literacy of all staff. Research literacy (the ability and willingness to engage in and with research) is a key element of a school’s culture, as both an important characteristic of teacher identity and a driver for evidence-based decision making in schools.

While school-based research by practitioners has long been promoted as a highly effective means of engaging educators in professional learning (Avalos, 2011; Hilton & Hilton, 2017; Justi & Van Driel, 2006), other research has shown that school leaders play a significant and multifaceted role in the effectiveness of practitioner research, its sustainability, and teachers’ willingness to continue to engage in it (Goldsmith, Doerr, & Lewis, 2014; Lachance & Confrey, 2003). Without school leaders’ ongoing support, teachers’ research engagement can be hindered or constrained (see Kershner, Pedder, & Doddington, 2013).

The presenters’ research in this area has shown that principals who value and act upon teachers’ research outcomes are able to use such research to make changes that have significant impacts beyond the individual researchers. We have identified significant school-wide impacts, classroom-based outcomes, and student-focused outcomes (Hilton & Hilton, 2019; 2020).

”Practitioner research is increasingly acknowledged by education authorities across the world as a highly effective means of strengthening educators’ professional development”.

– British Education Research Association, 2014

“Practitioner research gives ownership and voice to what teachers want to do. Within our school, practitioner researchers have set a high standard. As highly professional people we have an obligation to engage in high quality research. The benefits of practitioner research are not limited to the research itself but that the teacher researcher has ownership, and a desire to learn more to improve their practice; practitioner research enables them to do that. It creates a culture.”

– Principal of participating school


Presenters are Dr. Annette Hilton and Dr. Geoff Hilton who have mentored school-based researchers for many years. Through this work, they have also consulted and collaborated with many school leaders to effectively foster a school-based research culture. Annette and Geoff have researched numerous facets of practitioner research and its benefits to educators at all career stages in a range of contexts, including the influence of school leaders’ participation in professional learning with their teachers. They have published widely through journal articles, book chapters, and books and their most recent book, Learning to Research – Researching to Learn: An Educator’s Guide, was commissioned and published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press. Annette and Geoff have presented at many conferences around the world and have conducted teacher workshops in Australia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. They believe passionately in the capacity of school leaders to promote a strong and effective culture of research in their schools.

Annette Hilton was a secondary school teacher and head of department before completing a PhD and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Queensland before appointment as an Associate Professor of Science Education at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Copenhagen and Associate Professor of Research Leadership at the University of Technology Sydney.

Geoff Hilton was a primary school teacher before completing his PhD and moving to university lecturing and researching. He completed postdoctoral research at the University of Queensland, where he currently teaches in the undergraduate and masters programs for initial teacher education.


This workshop is suitable for people in all leadership positions in educational settings who are interested in learning more about practitioner research and models for promoting it to develop a research culture within their schools. We suggest that the program would be particularly well suited to leadership teams.


(This can be customised and changed)

Welcome & Preparation


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