Is the leadership team actively supporting research in your organisation? Many studies confirm that they play a key role in determining whether research evidence gets used in practice, writes Andrew Morris.
A project set up by practitioners, leaders and academics under the Coalition for Evidence-Based Education (CEBE) recently reviewed the evidence about the role of leaders in fostering a culture of research. Based on this, CEBE has put forward a set of key factors (a selection is listed below) for leaders who want to develop effective strategies supporting evidence informed practice.
- Spell out the advantages that evidence informed practice might offer their organisation. For example: the ability to make better judgments about new initiatives; helping staff focus on the most productive aspects of teaching and learning.
- Identify ‘champions’ who can influence and support different groups of staff through modelling and mentoring.
- Encourage staff to see how evidence best fits with their own area of responsibility.
- Feature research evidence in meetings of staff, governors and parents and in CPD.
- Demonstrate that local policies are founded on evidence by, for example, using evidence relating to priorities identified in development plans.
- Encourage practitioners to set up small-scale projects using their knowledge and experience.
- Cultivate an atmosphere of trust and co-operation to support staff as they change their practices in the light of evidence.
- Engage with others who share an interest in using research evidence, such as: other providers locally; a local university’s education department; organisations such as the Society for Education and Training (SET), the Learning and Skills Research Network (LSRN) and the Education Endowment Foundation.
The CEBE team is building on this study by addressing the difficulties organisations face in trying to achieve this. If you want to participate in this or find out more, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Morris is an honorary senior lecturer at the UCL Institute of Education and a member of the national planning group of the Learning and Skills Research Network. Andrew is president of the education section of the British Science Association.