12 SES 12, Designing Ongoing Review Processes: Between systematic approaches and new challenges
The role of education science in a world that seems to be increasingly unstable and unpredictable gains a new importance by reversing current “post-truth” trends, by putting a focus on knowledge systems and by transferring research results to educational policy-makers and practitioners as well as to the general public. At the same time, the enormous fragmentation of research in the educational field reveals the need for reviews and studies with a meta-perspective that enable to gain an overview of the field with regard to relevant questions (see Polanin, Maynard & Dell, 2017). What means does educational research have to provide such a service? The proposed panel wants to explore the design of ongoing review processes from different angles: Not only with regard to the different countries involved, but also with regard to different review types (see Grant and Booth, 2009).
The panel will start by taking a look at the design of systematic review studies as they have been developed since the 1990s by the EPPI-Centre, part of the Social Science Research Unit at the Institute of Education, University College London (Gough et al, 2017), and the Campbell Collaboration, a non-profit organisation steered by an international research network (Littell & White, 2017). While both organisations are dedicated to the production and dissemination of systematic reviews that are directly relevant to teachers and other stakeholders who make decisions about education policy and practice, they vary on a number of dimensions. This paper briefly discusses the purpose, history and development of the EPPI-Centre and the Campbell Collaboration before exploring commonality and diversity in review methods, structures and processes. Illustrative examples are drawn from the author’s first-hand experience of conducting systematic reviews published by these organisations.
This will be followed by the introduction of review types that do not fulfill all criteria of a systematic review for example with regard to the coding and analyzing procedure, but are nonetheless based on a systematic and transparent search scheme and serve to summarize research findings for different target groups. The German example will focus on the design of a series of “critical reviews” (Booth, 2016) as part of a meta-project that is accompanying a five year funding program of the German federal ministry of education in the field of digital education. The review series reflects the attempt to create an overall context for the different research consortia, to connect research findings and to identify overarching research questions or research gaps as well as to create an ongoing dialogue with the practice.
The French example aims at demonstrating how the lack of organized or institutionalized diffusion of research results from universities towards practitioners could justify the implementation of mediation and knowledge brokering infrastructures. We also postulate that giving access is not enough for research to be useful to educational stakeholders. In that perspective, the French Institute of Education provides thematic literature reviews based on recent research with the objective of facilitating the knowledge transfer process by presenting what could be pertinent information for practitioners and policy makers.
The different approaches in undertaking review studies will be complemented by examples of knowledge transfer undertaken by The Swedish Institute for Educational Research (Skolforskningsinstitutet). This institute is tasked by the government with producing systematic reviews of educational research. There is a wide range of strategies for engaging potential users to elicit their priorities. The Swedish example will focus on the challenge of trying to frame both actual and perceived needs of knowledge in order to provide evidence-informed knowledge for educators, administration and policy, thus supporting school development processes, school practice and policy reforms.
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