Educational Research and Educational Policy-making

 For various historical, political and epistemological reasons (which are well-documented in a range of sources), ‘evidence-based policy’ is not a neutral descriptor but instead seems to have become a highly-charged and polarising idea in educational research, with different factions in the educational research community taking contrasting or even oppositional stances, These stances have been based to some degree on pre-existing ideological and rhetorical positions and have resulted in certain theoretical and methodological stand-offs. This SIG, in taking a wider view of the relationship between research and policy, seeks to create an environment for robust and constructive engagement on how and under what circumstances educational research can or should be seeking to inform the processes of policy-making at different levels. The SIG draws upon a range of philosophical, conceptual and empirical understandings – including in the field of research utilisation and ‘impact’ – in order to (i) establish more nuanced and conducive ‘professional conversations’ and (ii) explore a variety of institutional arrangements, as a basis for developing and influencing research-informed policy-making. The SIG takes special care to include colleagues working in practice and policy, as well as from research institutions; also linking up with other initiatives in this field, such as the Thematic Seminar Group funded as part of the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme, the ESRC-funded Evidence Network, and various Social Research Association initiatives. Aims and objectives of the group To identify and enhance the various ways in which, and the supporting conditions under which, scholarly research efforts in education can have a stronger influence on policy-making processes by, for example:

  • identifying key areas of policy which may be particularly supported – or contradicted – by current research evidence;
  • identifying processes, environments and institutional arrangements for the mediation and ‘translation’ of research knowledge for decision-making;
  • de-constructing barriers to the use of scholarly research in decision-making;
  • exploring a range of methodologies for synthesising research knowledge;
  • identifying new substantive areas, new research models and modes, and/or insufficiently understood issues for policy-relevant research.

Latest SIG Content

English in Education – Curriculum and Assessment

12 March 2019 | Event

This one-day event provides a forum for researchers, teacher-educators and teachers to discuss our current English curriculum and the ways in which the subject is assessed in school and FE/HE contexts. It is framed particularly by the alarming... [...]

Let’s make education fairer

11 January 2019 | Blog

A group of colleagues from the Durham University Evidence Centre for Education (DECE) were highly commended in the 2018 BERA Public Engagement and Impact Award, for their work on making education fairer. Here I explain some of the work of this... [...]

Looking back on an event-full 2018

10 January 2019 | Blog

A year that championed educational research and its impact is now gone into the ether. We worked with our brilliant SIG convenors, partners and speakers to ply you with useful and enjoyable events that, according to the feedback we received,... [...]

BERA Blog highlights from 2018

21 December 2018 | Blog

A seasonal welcome to all our BERA Blog readers in the UK and around the world in this, our third end-of-year-highlights special edition. And what a year this has turned out to be. (I really will try not to mention either the ‘T’ or the... [...]

Aspirations, expectations and rethinking outreach

18 December 2018 | Blog

‘Aspirations’ are a wonderfully simple concept. The problem is that it’s becoming increasingly clear they are of little worth in terms of understanding pathways towards higher education, as we argue in our new article in the British... [...]

The neglect of practice

14 December 2018 | Blog

Many BERA members will be very familiar with terms such as evidence-informed practice, evidence-based practice and research-engaged teaching. The recent BERA close-to-practice research project is the latest in a flurry of work focussing on the... [...]

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