Researchers often argue for the necessity of translating study results to classroom practice, while lamenting how rarely it happens. A new report by the William T. Grant Foundation says that thinking purely in terms of how to get educators to use the research presented to them creates a “one-way street” that’s less effective than developing true partnerships between districts and researchers.
The New York-based foundation paints a picture of how more egalitarian partnerships develop and thrive. It says effective research-practice partnerships should be:
• Long-term, rather than set up just for the duration of a study;
• Focused on problems of practice relevant to the school or district;
• Committed to mutually benefiting the district and the researcher;
• Intentionally working to build and sustain the partnership; and
• Producing original analyses.
This doesn’t mean all partnerships look alike. In one model, which the foundation calls a “research alliance,” local educators, parents and community groups pull together and work with researchers to address concerns in their area. Design research, by contrast, looks a bit like developing prototypes in the business realm; researchers pair with schools and districts to test and tweak interventions in the context of their classrooms, rather than simply attempting to implement a whole intervention that has been successful in the lab or elsewhere. Individual organizations interested in solving similar problems are also joining “networked improvement communities” to share data, successes, and failures.
A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2013 edition of Education Week as Report: Research to Practice Goes Both Ways