Evidence-based education: What is auto ethnography?

Often in education, educators take the approach that:

tbroke…education should be eminence-based. This is where (usually more senior) colleagues value experience over evidence. Otherwise known as, “making the same mistakes with increasing confidence over an impressive number of years.”

With the increase in technology and understanding, we are able to conduct more effective and efficient research into the mind and how children learn best at school. John Hattie spent 15 years synthesising over 800 meta-studies to find out what research shows works best for children learning in schools.


Evidence-based education is an approach to all aspects of education (from policy-making to classroom practice) where the methods used are based on significant and reliable evidence derived from experiments.

(Petty, 2006).

Future blogs will look into some of Hattie’s finds. But this blog wants to introduce the somewhat (in my opinion) controversial form of evidence being increasingly used in education.

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It is a form of self-reflection, that through description and systematic analysis of personal experiences, seeks to understand cultural experiences. It connects wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings through a ‘pedagogy of discomfort’ (Boler and Zembylas, 2003). For an example of this form of research please see:

Miller, J. L. (2004). Mr Brucker’s good girl.

What do we as educators think about this type of research? 

Is it helpful?

Can we base our educational systems, our schools and our teaching on this research?

In order understand auto ethnography and form my own opinion, I undertook my own inquiry into auto ethnography by looking at the research question:

To what extent does today’s primary school education adequately cater for our learners?

Auto ethnography: A Study

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What do I think now about auto ethnography as a form of research?

If I want to know what constitutes as good practice in the classroom, what kind of evidence am I going to look for?

Why is this?

Do I need to change the way that I think about and value evidence-based research?

What can be gained from conducting this type of research?

What do you think?


Boler, M., & Zembylas, M. (2003). Discomforting truths: The emotional terrain of understanding different. In P. Trifonas (Ed.) Pedagogies of difference. Rethinking education for social change (pp.110-136). New York: Routledge.)

Miller, J. L. (2004). Mr Brucker’s good girl. In Miller, J. L. (Ed.), Sounds of silence breaking women, autobiography, curriculum (pp. 99-105). New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Petty, G (2006) Evidence based teaching Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.


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