The Bumpy Road to Using Research Evidence in Schools

The School-University Research Partnership (SUPER) is a network between researching schools and the Faculty of Education at Cambridge. The SUPER network has been around since the late nineties and in the meantime partners have learned a lot about developing research cultures in schools.

A lot of the learning has come from all the bumps in the partnership road.

It may not be a big surprise, but it can be challenging to build research cultures in the dynamic practice of schools. The thing with bumps is that after each bump you have to count if everyone is still on board. Did anybody fall off? Is everybody still motivated to do research? Do teaching staff still feel they have ownership of the research in their school? Are they excited to pursue their questions? Fair questions that all schools and partnerships involved in research should keep asking themselves.

bumpy-road-signSo how do you keep everyone on board?

Last year SUPER decided to ask all educators in our eleven partnership schools what motivates them to apply research findings in their practice. The question is part of a larger study into schools’ research cultures and the way research evidence is shared and used. 549 educators responded (57% response rate) and shared their views. They told us what drives them, how they prefer to participate in research, in what format research findings are best presented, what role colleagues play, what support they need and what kind of recognition they value most.


Checklist ‘Motivation for Use of Research Evidence in Schools’

We decided to summarize the items with the highest average scores as they give us a pretty good insight in what motivates educators to use research evidence in school practice. We don’t say that there can be no more, but at least these seem very important to educators in schools. We have summarized our findings into a checklist that allows schools and partnership networks to reflect on the way their (research) activities motivate their school staff to use research evidence. Feel free to use it, refer to it, and lets us know your thoughts.

Download the Checklist Here: Checklist Research Knowledge Use

We encourage everyone involved in research in schools to use this checklist. We all know the road to research rich schools is bumpy. Now, lets make sure no one is left behind…


About Frank Cornelissen

Dr. Frank Cornelissen is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Faculty of Education of the University of Cambridge. His main topics of study are the developing, sharing and using of research-based knowledge in school (networks) and school-university partnerships; teacher leadership; teacher research; teacher professionalism. Frank runs a petition for giving teachers free access to research journals in the Netherlands.
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