00 SES 07, From Project Funding to Sustainability in Educational Reforms – Which Innovation Capabilities Do We Need?
This proposal for a joint WERA-EERA-session with the title “From Project Funding to Sustainable Reform – Which Innovation Capabilities Do We Need?” addresses the question of which structural requirements must be in place in order to facilitate sustainable change in the field of public education. It proceeds from the assumption that a more productive interplay between educational research and practice would be critical for the development of new solutions to current educational problems and future challenges.
However, when it comes to the improvement of educational practices and policies, the outcomes of the last decades of research-practice collaboration seem to be limited at best and key problems such as high numbers of school dropouts remain unsolved in many countries.
The discussion in the proposed session proceeds from the premise that this unsatisfactory diagnosis may be due to the lack of a robust R&D infrastructure for educational improvement (Bryk and Gomez 2008). Today, research is usually organized in the form of projects. Yet, even the most ambitious programmes frequently lack the financial resources and, in particular, the time which would be needed to develop effective and viable solutions and to match the size of the challenges they address. As a result, a multitude of poorly coordinated parallel innovation projects blossom and wither, leaving rather limited and highly fragmented impact on educational practice (if any).
A strategy to overcome these predicaments might focus on the provision of more adequate supportive environments for developers and providers of new and more effective solutions (e.g., Glazer and Peurach, 2013). This assumption is corroborated by research on industrial product development as well as social-technological innovation. It demonstrates the relevance of supportive structures which enable researchers and (social) entrepreneurs to conduct experiments aimed at the development of viable new technologies, products and services which are pursued over long periods of time (e.g. Van de Ven et al 1999; Geels, 2002).
Against this backdrop, the panel discussion will circle around the following questions: (1) What alternatives to projects are there, and what is known about their strengths and weaknesses? Examples include long-term partnerships between research and practice as well as laboratory schools and innovation networks. (2) How should these potential building blocks of an architecture of innovation structures be designed and combined if they are to facilitate the generation of promising new solutions with the potential for genuine improvements? (3) Which measures should guide the selection of such promising approaches which might then be supported over long periods of time? (4) By means of which structures can we facilitate the sustainable integration of successful new solutions into the prevailing system? (5) What implications does this have for the designers of interventions, policy makers and both public and private funders of educational research and reform programs?
Our session thus aims at the development of a better and more nuanced understanding of those structural preconditions which are required for sustainable improvement to become possible in the first place. At the same time, we want to explore both the practical and scholarly implications this new perspective might entail.
Bryk, A. S., & Gomez, L. M. (2008). Ruminations on reinventing an R&D capacity for educational improvement. The future of educational entrepreneurship: Possibilities of school reform, 181-206; Peurach, D. J., & Glazer, J. L. (2012). Reconsidering replication: New perspectives on large-scale school improvement. Journal of Educational Change, 13(2), 155-190. Van de Ven, A. H., Polley, D. E., Garud, R., & Venkataraman, S. (1999). The innovation journey Oxford University Press. New York. Geels, F. W. (2002). Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study. Research policy, 31(8-9), 1257-1274.
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