Despite the unprecedented disruption in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID, innovation continues to flourish at OISE. In October, the R. G. N. Laidlaw Research Centre announced the launch of a new peer-reviewed journal.
The Laidlaw Forum: Emerging Ideas in Child Study and Education is a landmark publication launched by faculty and affiliated researchers from the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study (JICS) – including its Laboratory School – and the programs in OISE’s department of Applied Psychology and Human Development.
The project began with a revelation – that a lot of the research-based course work submitted by students in the MA, EdD and PhD programs would be valuable to people outside of these programs. The intended audience for the Forum is primarily front-line educators, but also parents and other student researchers.
“Faculty in our programs at JICS encourage their students to reflect upon existing research that is relevant to their future teaching practice and to design lesson plans that take into account this research. Some of the assignments our students produce are exemplary, and we started thinking about how we could make our students’ work more valuable, not only for their learning and academic career, but also for the larger community of teachers who need access to research-based solutions to the challenges they face in their daily practice with children.” said Dr. Patricia Ganea, the director of the R.G.N. Laidlaw Research Centre.
The mandate of Laidlaw Research Centre is to promote the field of child study, by providing channels for communication and collaboration among graduate students, practising teachers, and researchers.
Dr. Laurie Faith, who also teaches at JICS and is the Forum’s associate editor, believes the new publication fulfills the Centre’s mandate – to promote research, find meaning in it, and mobilize it towards people who can use it.
“The other interesting benefit is that by providing our students with an opportunity for publication we build morale and connect them to the true purpose of their studies. They can practise exercising leadership among their colleagues as highly trained educators who do research-based work,” she explained.
After ongoing consultations with the community and collaborative work with the University of Toronto’s journal publishing support service, the Forum published its first issue in November 2021 with nine peer-reviewed publications. As a nod to the unprecedented shift to online learning, all works in this first edition are digital videos designed to support classroom teachers.
The first issue of Laidlaw Forum highlights research and classroom approaches to support mathematics teaching, executive functions, social and emotional learning, and literacy in play-based kindergarten.
“The Laidlaw Forum’s video stories are informed by real challenges experienced in classrooms, and each video provides at least a couple of research-informed, practical approaches to supporting students through those challenges,” says Charlotte Henderson, one of the MA students at JICS whose work was published in the 1st issue. Henderson’s video presents a review of research for kindergarten teachers trying to achieve fundamental literacy goals within a play-based pedagogy.
Henderson was particularly excited and inspired by a video created by her classmate, Adelaide Leo. Leo’s video “Growth Mindset for Advanced Math Students” describes the challenges experienced by advanced math students who become stuck in a vision of themselves as math geniuses and then feel threatened and overwhelmed when they experience math problems they don’t know how to solve.
“This is a good example of a problem I have seen arise in classrooms and yet hadn’t considered enough of a priority to take the time to research more deeply,” said Henderson. “After watching the video, I feel ready to implement a strategy that I believe will benefit the entire classroom while also specifically targeting the needs of those advanced math students at risk of getting stuck in a fixed mindset.”
While all of the works in the first edition are videos, the plan is for next year’s issue to be more varied. The forum is currently seeking research-based videos, but also posters, multimedia infographics, fliers, lesson plans, and succinct papers. “The Forum is open to innovative presentation styles,” says Faith.
“The way educators consume research about education and child study is changing rapidly, so we haven’t settled on just one format. To meet the needs of frontline educators, we plan to continue collaborating, learning, and adapting with our authors.”
The Laidlaw Forum hopes to meet the needs of inquiring educators by serving them the plain-language, practical research they need to address daily teaching challenges. “No classroom or year of teaching is ever the same; in order to support our students, we have to be constantly learning and re-learning, and that can be both exciting and exhausting,” said Henderson. Indeed! Considering the unprecedented disruption to the way education is delivered, the Laidlaw Forum and its student authors should have no shortage of subject matter.
To learn more about the Laidlaw Forum: Emerging Ideas in Child Study and Education, please visit jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/lfcse.