15 SES 04, Evidence-Informed Practice: International perspectives, problems and opportunities for partnerships
Across the world, there are calls from policy for education practice to become more 'evidence-informed'. This is often framed in terms of 'what works', with the view that, if research can discover what works, and education professionals can both implement 'what works' and cease doing what doesn't work, the quality of education will improve and this will be recognised in terms of student outcomes.
The 'evidence-informed practice' movement, with its rallying call of 'what works’ (e.g. Goldacre 2013) has profound implications for partnerships in education because it frames researchers as responsible for discovering ‘what works’ and teachers for implementing research findings. Implicit in this conceptualisation are certain power relationships in which researchers discover what works; teachers operationalise what works and researchers then determine the extent to which the teachers have been successful. This is a one-sided and impoverished notion of partnership which ignores the complementary nature of research knowledge and practitioner knowledge, and the mutual pursuit of agreed educational values.
Evidence-informed practice is therefore highly contentious (Biesta 2007; 2010; Hammersely 2013). On the one hand, it can be argued that educational research is being moved from a peripheral status to have a more central role, both in policy and in practice. This presents new opportunities for researchers to work closely with teachers and other educational professionals and to achieve practical impact for their research. On the other hand, there are well-founded concerns that conceptualisations of ‘evidence-informed practice’ that focus primarily on the 'what works agenda', reduces research to experimental trials, practice to techniques and strategies, and the relationship between research and practice to an instructional one. If these concerns are realised, evidence-informed practice will contribute to an already prevalent view of education in general and schooling in particular as wholly concerned with instrumental values.
This symposium will examine the potential benefits and pitfalls of evidence-informed practice for partnerships between researchers and teachers. Throughout the papers, the conception of research partnerships, as a means for researchers to direct and evaluate teachers’ practice, is examined and critiqued. In its place, we argue that a deeper and more accurate conception of evidence-informed practice sees both researchers and teachers developing through and intellectual engagement with research and evidence. This engagement includes asking questions of both research and practice, and developing a research approach to the teacher, students, teaching and learning.
The symposium opens with an intervention study in which researchers developed capacity in culturally diverse underperforming schools. A focus on culturally relevant curricula enabled researchers and practitioners to develop partnerships which were mutually beneficial and, more to the point, beneficial for the students they served. The second paper reports on a very large-scale intervention involving around 10% of all the schools in Denmark; it demonstrates that the intervention has improved the professional performance of teachers. The third paper reports on three projects between a university and its partner schools. The evidence suggests that new forms of partnerships are being developed, in which research provides a space for questioning, critique and argumentation. The final paper explores a partnership between a consultant and a teacher, involving an approach known as Understanding by Design.
Biesta, G. (2007). Why “what works” won’t work: Evidence‐based practice and the democratic deficit in educational research. Educational theory, 57(1), 1-22. Biesta, G. J. (2010). Why ‘what works’ still won’t work: From evidence-based education to value-based education. Studies in philosophy and education, 29(5), 491-503. Goldacre, B. (2013). Building evidence into education. London: Department for Education. Retrieved from www.gov.uk/government/news/building-evidence-into-education. Hammersley, M. (2013). The myth of research-based policy and practice. London: Sage.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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