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Workshop 5: Knowledge brokerage: learning from experience

DAY TWO: Session 7: Parallel workshop sessions (15 May, 10.45 - 12.15)

Workshop 5: Knowledge brokerage: learning from experience (Chairs: Wolfgang Böttcher and Nina Hogrebe, University of Münster, Germany)

Against the background of the growing demands for evidence informed policy and practice in the field of education the question arises how research results can best be “transported” and “translated” into the fields of educational practice and policy making. While the idea of institutionalized centers which function as “brokerages” or “clearinghouses” and mediate between the different worlds of research and practice seems reasonable, less is known about the success of these organizations and corresponding facilitating or hindering factors. The workshop therefore wants to learn from existing practices of “knowledge brokering”. We are interested in contributions from persons that are either working within or interacted with such organizations from both the context of research or practice/policy making. Both, experiences from the field of education as well as other domains are welcome. Our aim is to draw conclusions about how to design effective mediation structures that support evidence informed decision making in education.


Steve Higgins: What Works or What’s Worked? Evidence for Education in the UK

Steve’s talk will focus on the Sutton Trust/ Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) ‘Teaching and Learning Toolkit’, which has been designated as the education centre for the UK’s national ‘What Works Network’ to improve the use of high quality evidence when government makes decisions about public services. The Toolkit presents the findings of research for education and primarily aims to help schools to decide how they might best spend their resources to support the learning and attainment of disadvantaged students. The emphasis is on identifying comparative messages from existing quantitative research.

One of the premises of the research is that it is challenging to establish a direct causal link from educational interventions to improved practice in a different context, so aims to identify areas which may offer better prospects for improvement than others. This presentation will outline the methods used to identify and synthesise the evidence summarised in the Toolkit, from systematic literature searching and retrieval to data extraction and synthesis. It will also provide an overview of how the Toolkit is informing the commissioning of large scale randomised controlled trials by the EEF, with the independently evaluated findings from these projects feeding back into further updates of the Toolkit.

Corian Messing: Sharing knowledge in the Netherlands

In order to improve the quality and effectiveness of the services rendered to Dutch Youth and families, the Netherlands Youth Institute is the Dutch national institute for compiling and verifying knowledge on children, families and parenting and sharing this knowledge with professionals. Enabled by a four year subsidy from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, since 2012, this also includes the gathering and sharing of available evidence and practice-based knowledge about schools and their collaboration with child care and child welfare providers.

My presentation focuses on the motivations for a stronger focus in The Netherlands on the ‘knowledge needs’ of professionals in and around schools as well as its effects. By focusing on one of the themes of the subsidiary program, I will outline our past and our current approach to compiling and disseminating knowledge. I will focus on our shift in focus, based on a felt need for an increased reliance on practice-based evidence. That’s why, in the third year of the program, we have asked professionals to be our ‘knowledge partner’ in different themes of interest. These professionals work in various domains: education, child welfare and social care. My presentation will also cover the reasons behind this shift in focus as well as its preliminary effects.

Kathy Kikis-Papadakis: Evidence-based policy making on school leadership: overcoming complexity and context-specificity

Evidence-informed policy making in the field of school leadership is a challenging endeavor because of several reasons. School leadership is a relatively new research area for many school systems around Europe, particularly in the south of Europe and the new EU members in central and eastern Europe. The great variety in the traditional national/regional ways of managing and leading schools in Europe makes it also particularly challenging to learn from research conducted in other school systems or other types of schools. Furthermore, there is great complexity in the ways school leadership impacts school learning and equity and hence policy planning needs to consider a wide spectrum of policy dimensions before arriving to specific policy action lines and solutions (e.g., at the level of school autonomy, accountability, school leadership capacity building etc).

The focus of the discussion in this presentation is on lessons learned from the diverse activities undertaken during the past 2.5 years by the European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL), which has engaged stakeholders, representing Ministries of Education, associations of school leaders, parents and teachers and research/academic institutions from a large number of European countries, in an action-oriented discourse on how to design and implement school leadership policies for equity and learning.

Camilla Brørup Dyssegaard and Kasper Steenberg: From a systematic review to an evidence-informed approach to policy and practice

The Danish Clearinghouse for Educational Research was established in October 2006. From 2006 to 2012 Clearinghouse produced ten reviews. From to 2012 to 2014, 28 systematic research mappings and reviews are completed or in progress. We cover preschool, primary and secondary school, vocational schools and universities. We have covered areas such as: Inclusion, school readiness, vocational schools, dropout from universities, quality in special education etc.

A few of our reviews have functioned as the first step in large scale research projects. Cooperation with education authorities on both production and distribution of knowledge has intensified over the past two years. We have collaborated with the Ministry of Education on new formats such as APPS and e-books. We also have a “Knowledge on…” series which is aimed at informing teachers, schools etc. of our results. In our presentation we will give examples of  how different systematic research mappings and reviews have informed both policy and practice and in what way Clearinghouse works on ensuring that our results are accessible to the general public.