01 SES 10 B, Knowledge Mobilization in Education (Part 1): Theoretical and Practical Groundwork
Symposium to be continued in 01 SES 11 B
The transition from research to practice through knowledge mobilization (KMb) is of importance, both to educational researchers and the professional development of teachers. ‘Optimal circulation, access to and transfer of scientific knowledge’ is recognized in European educational policy (European Commission 2013). This policy is supported by open access to research and, in many member states, improved infrastructure for knowledge transfer. In England, the publicly funded What Works Network is currently researching educational interventions with 630,000 pupils in 4,500 schools. In France and Norway, national clearinghouses for educational research are established. In Romania, the 2011 Education Law highlighted the role of educational research in the creation of a knowledge-based society and recognized the role of the universities and research institutions in producing research and promoting its dissemination. In Austria, the national educational research center develops policies to foster transfer from educational research to practice.
There are two broad currents in educational research. One is the more traditional academic model, including basic research (concerned with general and theoretical questions) and applied research (dealing with more concrete problems, followed by the development of innovative methodologies and devices). The other current follows a different path, and includes approaches inspired by action research (Argyris & Schön 1989) or design-based research (TDBRC 2003). Here, academic knowledge is tailored to the needs of schools and teachers for the achievement of relevant results and for understanding the processes involved. It is plausible that the time is now ripe for a convergence between these two approaches. Of particular importance is the link between needs and improvement or innovation. When KMb gives answers to teachers’ and schools’ needs, it can achieve real results, since it fulfills actors’ motives (Atkinson 1964) although, if it satisfies only the needs of Education faculties or central authorities, outcomes might be marginal.
Currently, more research papers on the Internet are accessed than previously and the number of internet-based clearinghouses for educational research is also growing. Recent evidence suggests that schoolteachers are becoming more interested in research to improve educational practice.
Taken together, these factors can contribute in closing the gap between research and practice in education. However, the simplistic view that research discovers ‘what works’ and policymakers and practitioners act accordingly, almost never occurs in reality (Weiss 1979) because difficulties arise when research is adapted to local contexts, and popular educational beliefs that claim to be research-informed may not emanate from valid or robust research and may be ideologically-driven. Furthermore, the roles of research producers, intermediary organizations and users, and the relationship between these groups, are not clearly understood (Levin 2013) and empirical evidence that research can inform practice in education is limited. Existing research suggests that teachers have conflicting views about what counts as research (Zeuli 1994) and many teachers find research as irrelevant to their practice (Borg 2009; Hagger et al. 2008).
In this context, this symposium addresses these important questions:
- What is known about KMb in education?
- What theoretical frameworks can be used to study KMb in education?
- What are the processes of KMb in education?
- What are the practical and theoretical constraints?
- How does KMb in education become (or doesn’t become) part of teacher professional development?
- How does KMb in education become (or doesn’t become) part of the knowledge of schools as professional learning communities?
- Which are the links between KMb and actors’ motivation for change and improvement?
Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. (1989). Participatory action research and action science compared: A commentary. In Foote White W. (Ed.) Participatory Action Research. Thousand Oaks, Sage Atkinson, J. (1964) An Introduction to Motivation. Princeton: Van Nostrand Borg, S. (2009). English language teachers’ conceptions of research. Applied Linguistics, 30(3), 358-388. Commission of the European Communities (2013). Optimal circulation, access to and transfer of scientific knowledge. Online: http://ec.europa.eu/research/era/optimal-circulation_en.htm Hagger H., Burn, K., Mutton, T. & Brindley, S. (2008). Practice makes perfect? Learning to learn as a teacher, Oxford Review of Education, 34:2, 159-178 Levin, B. (2013). To know is not enough: research knowledge and its use. Review of Education, 1(1), 2-31. OECD (2014) Innovative Learning Environments. Online: http://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/innovativelearningenvironments.htm TDBRC – The Design-Based Research Collective (2003) Design-Based Research: An Emerging Paradigm for Educational Inquiry. Educational Researcher, 32 (1), 5-8 Weiss, C. H. (1979). The many meanings of research utilization. Public administration review, 426-431. Zeuli, J. S. (1994). How do teachers understand research when they read it? Teaching and Teacher Education, 10(1), 39-55.
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