Exploring School Administrators’ Acquisition/Use of Research Evidence About Instructional, Health, and Social Skills Programs

How do districts acquire research on school-based programming, and how does this vary across districts and among district personnel?

This exploratory study focuses on understanding who participates in the process of acquiring, evaluating, and using research concerning school-based programming on instructional strategies, and health and social skills; and how administrators access and use research evidence to inform decisions. Neal will conduct her research at three school districts that differ in size and geographic context. This diversity will allow Neal to explore how the processes for acquiring, evaluating, and using research varies based on district characteristics and program content. The study employs a mixed-methods design in which semi-structured interviews with administrators and field observations of administrative meetings are simultaneously conducted. Neal previously submitted an application for a major research grant. While the grant was not recommended for funding, we encouraged this promising young researcher to spend time in schools to better understand their structure, how they operate, and key decision-makers. This smaller award will provide Neal with these experiences within three districts. Cynthia Coburn has provided advice in the development of the study design and will continue to offer consultation regarding interview protocols and analyses.

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