ERG SES G 12, Knowledge and Education
The present paper attempts to bring new insights onto the characteristics of the policymaking field in education and aims to analyze the perception of policymakers on the educational research use in policymaking, focusing on the factors which influence transfer from research to policy.
The literature in the field of knowledge mobilization tends to focus on challenges, rather than on opportunities or areas of improvement. The overall image depicted in the literature points at several challenges faced by transfer and mobilization of educational research to policy, mostly from the researchers’ perspective. Our research intends to fill this gap and move forward the debate on the topic of knowledge mobilization adding the perceptions of policymakers.
The process of knowledge mobilization in policymaking implies a variety of factors, agents and contexts (Levin, 2013). In order to be mobilized, knowledge should be produced, transferred and finally used by policymakers. The context of knowledge production is dominated by the role of universities and research institutions in generating knowledge based on evidences (Ion & Castro, 2016). In this context, the knowledge production literature generally focuses on research funding, on research management and on the strategies used by academics in order to enhance the research transfer and utilization (Cummings et al., 2007; Kwiek, 2015; Honerød, 2012). In what concerns educational research, the domain is considered ‘too small, not well organized, and the results are not effectively communicated or shared’ (Levin, 2013, p. 15). It is considered to have little impact in society and often fails to meet the decision-makers’ needs (Coburn & Talbert, 2006; Hess, 2008; Levin & Edelstein, 2010; Cherney, Povey, Head, Boreham, & Ferguson, 2012). Locke (2009) also mentions policymakers’ perception of research described as irrelevant, lacking quality, untimely and poorly presented.
Literature suggests that research outcomes must be comprehensible for policymakers, stakeholders and practitioners or other type of audience (Conrad, 2005; Whitty, 2006; Bell, et.al, 2010; Levin, 2011; and Ion & Iucu, 2015), which would imply researchers taking on a more active role in making research accessible outside the academia and specialized audiences.
As far as the Romanian particular case is concerned, a specific challenge is underlined by Popa (2012), who argues that the highly bureaucratic system might play a significant role in the way of knowledge transfer and mobilization, while Ion and Iucu (2014) reveal both the significant role of bureaucracy, but it also brings into discussion individual factors, which limit practitioners’ ability to engage in genuine and sustainable research-based practices. In Kappel’s view (2012), there is no dialogue between fundamental research and applied research, but rather a flux of communication based on information transfer, different both in nuance and practice from knowledge transfer and mobilization. Also, the quality of applied research is affected by an interference with the design stage and micro-production, especially when compared to other EU countries, where applied research is not government-funded, as it is usually the case in Romania.
Given the current state of research in Romania, and of educational research in particular, the paper aims to identify other potential factors influencing its evolution, but from a policymakers’ perspective.
Bell, M., Cordingley,P., Isham.,C., & Davis.,R. (2010), Report of professional practitioner use of research review: Practitioner engagement in and/or with research. Available at: http://www.curee—paccts.com/node/2303 Charmaz, K. (2006), Constructing grounded theory. A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: SAGE. Cherney, A., Head, B., Boreham, P., Povey, J., & Ferguson, M. (2012), Perspectives of academic social scientists on knowledge transfer and research collaborations: a cross-sectional survey of Australian academics. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, 8(4), 433-453 Coburn, C., & Talbert, J. (2006), Conceptions of evidence use in school districts: Mapping the terrain. American Journal of Education, 112, 469–495. Conrad, C. F., & Serlin, R. C. (2005), The Sage handbook for research in education: Minding The Gap Between Research And Policymaking, Sage Publications. Cummings, GG, Estabrooks, CA, Midodzi, WK, Wallin, L & Hayduk L. (2007), Influence of organizational characteristics and context on research utilization. Nurs Res. 56(4 Suppl), 24-39 Hess, F.M. (2008), When research matters: How scholarship influences education policy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Honerød, M. (2012), Educational Research and Useful Knowledge: production, dissemination, reception, implementation. European Educational Research Journal, 11(1), 56-61 Ion, G & Castro, D. (2016), Transitions in the manifestations of the research culture of Spanish universities, Higher Education Research and Development Ion, G & Iucu, R. (2015), Does Research Influence Educational Policy? The Perspective of Researchers and Policy- Makers in Romania. In: Curaj, A., Matei, L., Pricopie, R., Salmi, J. & Scott, P. (eds) The European Higher Education Area: Between Critical Reflections and Future Policies. Springer, pp.873-889 Kappel, W., & Ignat, M. (2012), Unele probleme ale cercetării ştiinţifice aplicative în România, 1(2), 137–141. Kwiek, M. (2015), Academic generations and academic work: patterns of attitudes, behaviors, and research productivity of Polish academics after 1989, Studies in Higher Education, 40:8, 1354-1376 Levin, B. (2011), Mobilizing research knowledge in education. London Review of Education, 9(1), 15–26. Levin, B. (2013), To know is not enough: Research knowledge and its use. Review of Education, 1(1), 2-31. Levin, B., & Edelstein, H. (2010), Research, policy and practice in education. Education Canada, 50(2), 29–30. Locke, W. (2009), Reconnecting the Research – Policy – Practice Nexus in Higher Education : “Evidence-Based Policy” in Practice in National and International Contexts, 119–140. Popa, V. (2012), Cercetarea ştiinţifică şi transferul tehnologic, 1(4), 327–332. Whitty, G. (2006), Education research and education policy making: is conflict inevitable? British educational research journal, 32(2), 159-176.
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