- Educators routinely access education research and prefer journal articles, news stories and presentations at conferences over other sources. But their views on whether education research is timely, easy to find, understandable or transferrable to their practice fall in the 4.5-to-4.9 range on a 1 to 7 scale, according to a new report from the Jefferson Education Exchange — a nonprofit supported by the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education and Human Development.
- Based on the responses of 1,334 educators from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the findings show that educators prefer research that they can act on and that is presented in a way that applies to the context in which they work.
- An additional, still-unpublished study focusing on the responses of a smaller group of participants shows that only about 16% of teachers use research to inform their instruction. “Unfortunately, the majority of educator decisions are not evidence-informed, as defined by a combination of scientific research evidence and professional expertise, supporting the suggestion that there is significant room for growth in educators’ use of research evidence,” writes lead author Emily Barton at UVA.
The mission of the Jefferson Education Exchange is to help teachers make informed decisions about ed tech and to make sure teachers’ voices are part of “implementation-focused research evidence,” according to the report. As part of its EdTech Genome Project, a database intended to help educators vet technology products, the organization is continuing to seek additional feedback from educators on the implementation variable that matters most at the classroom level.
The nonprofit is also working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences to capture educators’ perspectives on research. Of the respondents, 144 completed the survey at a 2018 convening organized by Jefferson Education Exchange and IES.
Making education research more accessible has also been a priority for the American Educational Research Association, says spokesman Tony Pals. “The importance of better connecting research to practice and policy is front and center for the field and will continue to be one of our top priorities,” he said.
“One of the major trends in the field has been the significant expansion of research-practice partnerships,” Pals adds. “These alliances bring educators and researchers together to develop and undertake research that identifies actionable solutions for schools and school districts.”
IES has provided funding for some partnerships, but so have foundations and universities. The National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships, launched in 2016 at Rice University in Houston, now has 41 members and offers resources on a range of topics including funding, building trust and developing a research agenda.