Sarah Younie

Evidence-informed practice – much talk and little action

Sarah Younie De Montfort University Monday 30 October 2017

Evidence-informed practice in classrooms (EPiC practice) is a growing issue for teachers in schools and interestingly a Google search on the topic gives a million and a half returns.

Over recent years as those of us in the MESH (Mapping Education Specialist knowHow)network have canvassed colleagues about practice in other countries, we find there is little action beyond expressions of concern by policy makers and the recurrent commissioning of reports which yield nothing new (DFE, 2017).  

As a co-author of the major textbooks used for secondary teacher training in the UK, I am only too aware of the extensive professional knowledge base that authors need to draw on in writing the textbooks.

Academic papers, are, after all, written as conversations between academics.

High quality teaching requires a high degree of pedagogic knowledge as well as up-to-date subject content knowledge. However, we find that in many areas, the research underpinning practice is either not available or not easily accessible to teachers. Academic papers, are, after all, written as conversations between academics. Arguably, they are not and never will be designed to meet the needs of practitioners.

As reported at conference, in the ‘Educational Research and Policy Making’ SIG discussion on the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals about improving the quality of teaching, the MESHGuide research summaries provide one answer to the need for translational research ie translating theory to practice in education.

MESH supports the use of scalable and low cost technologies to enable educators to engage in research collaborations and publications around topics they consider will make a difference to student’s learning.  We are at the beginning of a long journey pooling, sharing and testing our collective research-based knowledge including knowledge about how to diagnose problems learners face and interventions that help them overcome barriers to learning. We estimate thousands of concepts need to be included in the MESHGuide list. This is a challenging task.

We define evidence-informed practice as requiring both research/evidence and teacher professional judgement about the context and learners ie explicit knowledge + tacit knowledge. In our view, all teachers can be EPiC practitioners if they are given the tools – as a minimum, this means access to research based knowledge translated to relate to practice.

You are invited to Get Involved in what ever way suits your knowledge, expertise, experience and interests. Join the MESHConnect Open Door group on to read more and set the email alerts to be kept up to date or email to volunteer.

Note: MESH is an international education sector owned and managed initiative, developed by volunteers, with MESHGuide research summaries quality assured as are academic journal articles. For updates register to receive the newsletter and follow the Tweets (@meshguides). To ensure sustainability, MESH is a voluntary education sector led initiative funded by contributions of time from a wide range of members and supporters.

Dr Sarah Younie is Professor of Education Innovation and Co-Director of the ‘Institute for Education Futures’ at De Montfort University. Prof Sarah Younie is the BERA SIG Convener for Educational Research and Educational Policy- Making, having been involved nationally and internationally in teaching and research in education for 30 years. When she was the UK Chair of the Professional Subject Association of IT in Teacher Education (ITTE) she conducted research that was included as evidence for the Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry. She has published numerous books and Journal articles, and is currently Editor-In-Chief of the international Journal ‘Technology, Pedagogy and Education’. She is a founder member of ‘Education Futures Collaboration’ (EFC) charity and Trustee, which provides governance to the MESH (Mapping Educational Specialist knowHow) knowledge mobilisation project, which aims to build a professional knowledge base for the teaching profession by providing access to research summaries to support evidence-based practice.