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Tips of the Research-Practice Partnership Trade: Recap of Lessons Learned in 2017

By Urban Education Contributor — January 11, 2018 3 min read
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This week are spending time reflecting on our posts from the second half of 2017. Monday’s post recapped the research shared by our partnerships and today we review the posts related to tips on how to approach partnering. Stay tuned: Next week we will return to our regularly scheduled programming!

Earlier this week we reviewed the research our research-practice partnerships (RPPs) blogged about in the second half of 2017. Unsurprisingly, given the challenging nature of this type of research, our partnerships also thought it important and valuable to share many stories and lessons learned during their experiences. Here we take a quick trip through the posts on various RPP-related topics our contributors have blogged about since July 2017.

Thinking Outside The Box

Encountering a variety of obstacles when launching and working in an RPP has a silver lining: partnerships must utilize resources they have, in ways that might capitalize on existing skills, but also present opportunities to develop important new ones.

For example, we read about new roles doctoral students in education might take; namely, serving in closely mentored internships in early-stage partnerships, and how this could support the work in recently launched RPPs. From an already established partnership, we heard about an education doctoral program whose aim is to directly improve the research training education practitioner-scholars receive through the RPP, and about the value of this training from those who have gone through the program themselves.

Broader Questions

A number of blog posts featured in the second half of 2017 explored broader questions related to the field of research-practice partnerships, presenting tips and/or research findings related to these questions.

For example, posts explored how RPPs can assess their effectiveness, proposing a framework with five dimensions of effectiveness and tips for district leaders involved in RPPs for implementing these dimensions, how RPPs should rethink capacity building, with a researcher post and a practitioner reaction, and how district leaders and researchers can work together, with advice from district leaders to researchers and the other way around.

Inspired by the 2017 NNERPP Annual Forum, we reflected on our network of RPPs as a learning community by asking what we can (and did!) learn from each other. We also examined the many faces of research use in practice.

RPP work brings other unique challenges: Posts reflected on certain “people skills” researchers working in RPPs need, and presented tips for writing well about education research.

With the uniquely close relationship between researchers and practitioners in RPP work in mind, other posts offered insight into the development of no surprises policies (researcher post here, practitioner post here), survey development (researcher post here, practitioner post here), and program evaluations (researcher post here, practitioner post here) in the RPP context.

Approaches To Partnership Work

As we’ve mentioned on the blog before, there are many approaches one can take to this type of work and there is by no means “one right way” to work within or structure an RPP (a glance at the members in NNERPP can confirm this!).

In August, one of our partnerships blogged about the potential of improvement science to solve systemic problems, and also shared a practitioner-written example of how to implement improvement science in a district-level setting. That same month, we also shared a quick introduction to Design-Based Research Partnerships, authored by both a researcher and a practitioner with experience working in these.

Future Work

Next week we will return with a pair of blog posts sharing recent research. Given the vast knowledge on how to partner generated by our RPPs, we can no doubt look forward to additional insights and lessons learned related to the partnership aspect of the work in the coming future as well.

The National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP), housed at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, aims to develop and support research-practice partnerships in education in order to improve the connection between research, policy, and practice. Connect with NNERPP on Twitter.

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The opinions expressed in Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


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