Don’t Just Do Research, Apply it

Do you think educational research gets understood by people who should consume it?

Do you think educational research gets read by ordinary people?

Do you think educational research gets applied enough?

If you answered no to any of those questions, well-read on my new educational friend.

I have taken so much of my academic learning and put it into valuable use in my classrooms. The quality of my classroom experience is greatly enhanced in just one year. 

Scope of Improvements:

  • Improved test-question preparation
  • Intrinsically rewarding projects
  • Clear goals & outcomes and a sense of progress
  • More autonomy in classroom exercises and projects
  • More work that relates to the outside world
  • Better discussions to encourage students to ask questions
  • Improved clearly focus rubrics
  • Backward-curricular-design implementation

The list above shows innovation. The impact is my students have an easier time understanding curricular aims.

I read alot. I’m an ordinary sorta fella. So, a lot of the research I read, it’s challenging to encode. So many big words. I appreciate it when I can learn something consumable to the ordinarys of the world. So, it’s my desire to write this blog entry as ordinary as I can because I want you to not only read it, I want you to remember what you read.

A lot of my readings talk about working memory and long-term memory. The human mind can only remember so much.

So why read it all? Exposure. You don’t know what you don’t know. I point to my scope of improvements above. I’m retaining what makes me a better educator and throwing all that rest away. Yep, I admit to throwing all the information I find irrelevant away, and I encourage you to do the same.

This blog-post isn’t about working memory, but If you don’t know anything about it, I found this site.

If you remember anything about this part of this post, remember the number 7. We can hold about 7 chunks of information in working memory at a time. How many pieces of info am I going to the exposing you? Probably more than 7. So, it’s up to you to remember what you want to remember after reading this. Good luck.

Ok, let’s get back to those questions above. Remember?

Do you think educational research gets understood by people who should consume it?

Do you think educational research gets read by ordinary people?

Do you think educational research gets applied enough?

I’ve read about how research is viewed by working-educators (practitioners). Here are some of the bullet points the made it into my working-memory….ok, that’s not true. I lifted them from the reading and turned them into notes, and I hope it will make it into my working memory soon. Come on, working memory, don’t fail me now!

  • The gap separating research & practice has a central role in disappointing outcomes
  • Useful research is infrequently used in classrooms
  • Teachers utilize methods showing to have little or no positive impact
  • Change is difficult, and engineering broad change is a problematic endeavor
  • The general opposition to change and reform in educational institutions
  • Practitioners suspect that researchers may purposively bias findings
  • All research findings are interpreted through the filter of local context
  • Techniques require resources, time, or expertise that teachers do not have

Ok, there is more, but I’m over the 7 chunks of information by 1. Can you remember 8 bullet points? Come on, it’s not that much over the 7. Reread them and think about something in your past that connects to those 8 bullet points. Got it? Yeah, you remember them better now.

So there is resistance toward research and implication? So, how do we bridge the gap? What if we look toward an Evidence-based practice? You’re asking yourself right now, did Shawn read something about Evidence-based practices in education? Well, yes, I did.

In my spare time (not reading tons of research), I’m an Assistant Professor of Journalism. I don’t do a lot of journalistic research, in my spare-spare time, but I did for you and only you. I would never go into any educational setting and tell a teacher how to do their job or how to improve a student’s working memory just because I read some research about it. And, I would never go into a newsroom and tell a journalist how they could improve how to tell a story because I read some research. Mostly, because my wife works in a newsroom and she’d roll her eyes at me and call me silly. Also, because I respect working journalists. However, after reading another evidence-based practice article, one that ties Journalism into it, I got some ideas.

So after reading, Bridging the Gaps: Transfer Between Scholarly Research and Newsrooms in Journalism Education—Toward an Evidence-Based Practice in an Age of Post-Truth and State of Flux, maybe their is an opportunity for me and more importantly some of my students.

Before we get into the article, I’ll define the evidence-based Practice. There is no commonly accepted definition, so here is what I’m going to use.

Evidence-Based Practice is an instructional approach to use research-based on theory, expert opinion, and personal experience.

So, EBP (sometimes I’m not too fond of acronyms) is research that we can apply with meaning and trust by those who will use the research.

So in the article Bridging the Gaps they understood the “separation of practical journalism training from scientific journalism research and the lack of transfer between academic research and newsrooms.” So, can EBP connect research and working newsroom? 

Like, well, any career, the newsroom is changing. I don’t need to read about that. I just ask my wife. Remember, my wife works in a newsroom? That’s in your working memory now, right? I know the innovations going on in her newsroom. My students should study and understand and maybe come up with some changes themselves.  

A problem addressed in the Bridging the Gaps article is, conveying information from research to newsrooms often breaks down. Findings collected by researchers are independent and probably wouldn’t get used. The article’s aim is to overcome that obstacle. Using EBP (Evidence-Based Practice in case you forgot), they want to apply the research within the journalist’s work-day. Then, evaluate in a joint learning process of the innovation.

By using a participatory and interactive methodology, the researchers include their project into the daily activity of a working journalist. Then, both the researcher and journalist evaluate innovation. So, the tradition of the researcher taking data and just writing an article and be done is gone. In this EBP, the data is shared with the journalist. The journalist then puts research into practice, thus, a joint learning process. 

Remember bullet point 1? 

  • Gap separating research & practice has a central role in disappointing outcomes

These journalism students are trying to eliminate that gap. In the article, there is a quote. “Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.” This quote is from a social psychologist, Kurt Lewin. He said that in 1946. However, so much research is precisely that.

Kurt Lewin

If there is nothing else you take from me then that chunk of information, I’m ok with that.

Getting back to my students. No matter what I teach, I promise to never have them do any research just for a grade or to produce a paper. If they want to change or affect someone or something, I want to give them a chance, the opportunity to see if their innovation is a failure or success, and how the implication of their change is seen through ‘working-eyes.” I will bet this process will encode in their working memory better too!  

Working memory and evidence-based practice, it’s a thing.

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