Bridging the Divide Between the Impact and Improvement Science Communities

How can researchers and practitioners improve their capacity to effectively use education research to shape policy and improve practice?

Inefficiencies arise when hard lines are drawn between the program and policy evaluation communities and the improvement research community. These debates have resulted in divisions and confusion among researchers and decision makers. Maynard and colleagues will conduct a review to identify the strengths and weaknesses in the tools used by each community, and present a reasoned discussion of when different types of method are most useful to improve programs, policies, and practices and educational outcomes. Maynard’s team will conduct a scan of the intervention and improvement science research on education over the past decade to identify examples of studies that successfully bridged or could have bridged the two research strategies. They will also interview key stakeholders regarding their experiences and ideas for better integration of the research communities. Finally, they will build a network of leading scholars and practitioners who are interested in integrating evidence-based continuous improvement strategies into routines of practice. Maynard and her team will produce two papers that present their key findings, one of which will serve as a resource for researchers to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their work by selecting complementary methods. The other product would target practitioners and focus on their roles in creating well-functioning, evidence-based decision processes within their organizations. Each product will provide references to exemplary applications of efficient processes for using research to improve educational outcomes.