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Setting up a research circle

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This step-by-step task looks at how to set up a research circle with colleagues. 

What is a research circle?  

A research circle is where a group of teachers get together to develop  a research question to investigate together. It begins with thinking of questions about classroom experiences, issues, or challenges. It is a collaborative activity which helps teachers to explore and examine aspects of teaching and learning and develop their teaching knowledge and skills.

How to do it?

Brainstorm with your colleagues a list of questions you have about methodology, techniques, or topics of interest in teaching and learning.  

Select one question or topic and reflect:  

  • Why are you interested in this topic?
  • What do you want to know or understand?
  • How will this contribute to continuing professional development?

What do you need to think about when you are planning research?  

Look at the ideas below.  Reflect on your context, what would you add?

  • Consider whether and how researching this question will help you to develop. Don’t waste time exploring things you already know the answer to.
  • Be realistic in terms of time and resources – is there time to do the research? What resources will be needed?
  • Make sure the question is ‘researchable’ – think about how to find the answer.  
  • How will you know when the research is ready

Now you should be in a position to write your research question.


Discuss together what each of you will do. For example, will you all read the same article?  Will you read different articles? Is Internet research involved?  Who will do this? How will you record the results of your research – will each of you be responsible for making notes on the aspect they research, or will one of you act as secretary?  

Dates and meetings

Decide how long the research will take and set an end date. How often will you meet? Will you meet whilst you are carrying out the research, or will you meet when you have all finished the reading?

Results and review

Discuss what you have learnt. How will you use the learning?