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Research-informed practice: A framework

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What’s the idea?

Research-informed practice is about trying to make beneficial changes to your teaching, and trying to stop or avoid changes that might be harmful or ineffective – all guided by research evidence of what works (Kvernbekk, 2016).

What does it mean?

Barends et al. (2014) provide a comprehensive definition of research-informed practice. They say it ‘is about making decisions through the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of the best available evidence from multiple sources to increase the likelihood of a favourable outcome.’ (p. 2)

They suggest that there are six steps to this process that we have adapted for you:

  1. Asking – break down your issue into a well-formulated and answerable question
  2. Acquiring – devise a search strategy to look for the relevant research evidence
  3. Appraising – critically evaluate the quality, trustworthiness and relevance of the research evidence
  4. Aggregating – pull together various sources of research evidence
  5. Applying – using the best available research evidence when making a decision and act upon it
  6. Assessing – evaluate both the impact of your decision and how well you did as a research-informed practitioner (adapted from Barends et al., 2014, p. 2).

Points to remember

  • Scientific research is not the only source of evidence. You should also look at school or organisational data, your own expertise and stakeholder views
  • Qualitative and quantitative research are equally valuable
  • Evidence does not give you the answer. You must use your professional judgment and knowledge of your own context to make decisions
  • There is no certainty in evidence-informed practice – it only increases your likelihood of getting favourable outcomes for pupils.

What are the implications for teachers?

Evidence-informed practice can help you increase your chances of:

  • Introducing or continuing more effective teaching and learning strategies
  • Stopping or avoiding strategies that are ineffective or do more harm than good
  • Making effective use of your time
  • Developing your own professional skills and expertise.

Want to know more?

  • Barends E, Rousseau D and Briner R (2014) Evidence-Based Management: The Basic Principles. Amsterdam: Center for Evidence-Based Management.
  • Jones G (2018) Evidence-Based School Leadership and Management: A Practical Guide. London: SAGE.
  • Kvernbekk T (2016) Evidence-Based Practice in Education: Functions of Evidence and Causal Presuppositions. London: Routledge.

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