|Title:||National Center for Research in Policy and Practice|
|Principal Investigator:||Penuel, William R.||Awardee:||University of Colorado, Boulder|
|Program:||Education Research and Development Centers [Program Details]|
|Award Period:||5 years (7/1/2014-6/30/2019)||Award Amount:||$4,995,352|
|Type:||Multiple Goals||Award Number:||R305C140008|
Topic: Knowledge Utilization
Purpose: The National Center for Research in Policy and Practice developed measures and tools to document research use in schools, described the conditions under which research is used and the factors that promote or inhibit research use in schools and school districts, and identified and examined researcher practices that were associated with greater use of research. In addition, the Center engaged in leadership and outreach activities that helped school and district leaders apply study findings, including interactive meetings and use of technology to foster meaningful exchange among researchers, practitioners, and other stakeholders on how research can best be used to support educational improvement and transformation.
Focused Program of Research: There were three major components of the focused program of research for the Center: one measurement study and two descriptive studies. The purpose of the measurement study was to develop tools for observing and measuring research use in schools and school districts. The purpose of the first descriptive study (Reading and Math Instructional Decision-making in Practice) was to understand the conditions under which research is used and factors that promote or inhibit research use in schools and school districts. The purpose of the second descriptive study (Descriptive Study of Research Use in Research-Practice Partnerships) was to identify skills or strategies that researchers can adopt to make their work more meaningful to and impactful on education practice. NCRPP also conducted two supplemental studies, one focused on the role of professional associations in research use, the second focused on the researcher-practitioner partnerships funded by IES during 2013–2015.
Measurement Study: The Center developed a set of survey measures, interview protocols, observation protocols, and qualitative coding guides that focused on research use. All measures were iteratively developed. Both a small pilot test and a field test were used to validate the survey measures. For the small pilot test, 265 educational leaders completed the survey. For the field test, 733 people from 487 school districts across 423 cities and 45 states completed the final version of the survey. The research team assessed the validity and reliability of the survey instruments in measuring school and district leaders' research use, and the variation in the ways district and school leaders use research in their decision-making practices.
Descriptive Study 1: Reading and Math Instructional Decision-making in Practice: In this descriptive study, the Center examined both the extent to which and how research was used in decision making practice in local school districts. In this 18-month comparative case study, four districts were selected and followed to investigate their decision-making processes. District leaders from 32 of the largest school districts in states that adopted the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and ELA were sampled; in total, there were 281 respondents and an overall response rate of approximately 52%. Of these 32 districts, researchers then sampled from 22 districts that had greater than 50% response rate, selecting four districts along two key dimensions — districts that exhibited high and low connections to external partners, and districts that possessed greater and fewer intra-organizational routines. Data collection included interviews with central district office personnel and school level personnel and included questions regarding social networks. The Center also observed organizational routines that are related to decision-making about mathematics and English language arts and gathered relevant artifacts. Study findings show the importance of organizational routines in structuring decision making in school districts, and a new form of research use — latent use — was uncovered. Also explored were the relationships between schools and district central offices and how they influence school-level instructional decision making.
Descriptive Study 2: Descriptive Study of Research Use in Research-Practice Partnerships: In this descriptive study, the Center examined purposeful attempts to increase research use by promoting greater interaction between researchers and practitioners. The Center used a mixed-method, cross-case design to examine three different types of research-practitioner partnerships: research alliances; design research partnerships; and networked improvement communities. Only partnerships that have been in existence for at least three years by the start of the study were eligible to participate. Data collection included interviews with district personnel, observations of meetings, interviews with researcher partners, and surveys developed in the Measurement Study. Findings show the multiple ways in which research-practice partnership can support ongoing work of district leaders and outline the different affordances and constraints of different RPP design choices.
Leadership and Dissemination Activities: NCRPP had several leadership and engagement strategies. The Center built a website that targets the needs of district leaders, principals, and researchers. The website included findings from research presented using practitioner-friendly formats, as well as academic working papers. The website will also include links to published research and a repository of measures developed as part of the study. The website was updated regularly and linked to NCRPP's active twitter account, @NCRPP.
NCRPP hosted two meetings for engagement and dissemination, where Center staff presented findings from Center studies and considered implications, depending on meeting goals and audiences. One meeting occurred in summer 2020, and it focused on reimagining graduate education to prepare students for work in collaborative research settings. Invited guests included researchers from institutions dedicated to collaborative research, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, educational leaders, and foundation representatives. A second meeting was held in winter 2020, and it focused on developing a future research agenda for scholarship on research use. Throughout the project period, the Center participated in conferences aimed at both practitioner/policymaker and researcher audiences, including assembling symposia and presentations that include both researchers and district leaders for researcher-focused conferences.
NCRPP also developed a training module to support the use of research in decision making. The training modules drew on findings from the measurement study as well as descriptive studies 1 and 2. Over 200 state, district, and school leaders participated in these modules, hosted through the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Key Personnel: William R. Penuel (University of Colorado Boulder), Heather Hill (Harvard Graduate School of Education), Cynthia E. Coburn (Northwestern University), James P. Spillane (Northwestern University), Caitlin C. Farrell (University of Colorado Boulder), Derek Briggs (University of Colorado Boulder).
Project Website: http://NCRPP.org
Farrell, C. C., Penuel, W. R., Davidson, K. (2022). "What Counts" as Research? Comparing Policy Guidelines to the Evidence Education Leaders Report as Useful. AERA Open, 8(1), p. 1–17.
Penuel, W.R., Briggs, D.C., Davidson, K.L, Herlihy, C., Sherer, D., Hill, H.C., Farrell, C.C., & Allen, A-R. (2017). How school and district leaders access, perceive, and use research. AERA Open, 3(2), pp. 1–17.
Penuel, W. R., Briggs, D. C., Davidson, K., Herlihy, C., Sherer, D., Hill, H. C., Farrell, C., & Allen, A.-R. (2016). Findings from a national study of research use among school and district leaders(Technical Report No. 1). Boulder, CO: National Center for Research in Policy and Practice.
Descriptive Study 1: Reading and Math Instructional Decision-making in Practice
Coburn, C. E., Spillane, J. P., Bohannon, A. X., Allen, A-R., Ceperich, R., Beneke, A., & Wong, L-S. (2020). The role of organizational routines in research use in four large urban school districts. (Technical Report No. 5). Boulder, CO: National Center for Research in Policy and Practice.
Huguet, A., Wong, L-S., Harrison, C. W., Coburn, C. E., & Spillane, J. P. (2018). Research use in schools: A framework for understanding research use in school-level decision making. SAGE Handbook of School Organization. Ed. Michael Connolly, David E. Eddy-Spicer, Chris James, & Sharon D. Kruse.
Wong, L-S, Coburn, C. E., & Kamel, A. (2020). How central office leaders influence school leaders' decision-making: Unpacking power dynamics in two school-based decision-making systems. Peabody Journal of Education, 95(4), 392–407.
Wong, L-S., Huguet, A., Harrison, C. W., Coburn, C. E. & Spillane, J. P. (in press). School leaders' use of research: Viewing research use in decision making through an organizational lens. International Encyclopedia of Education.
Descriptive Study 2: Descriptive Study of Research Use in Research-Practice Partnerships
Brown, S. L., & Allen, A. A. (2021). The interpersonal side of research-practice partnerships. Phi Delta Kappan.
Coburn, C. E., Penuel, W. R., & Farrell, C. C. (2021). Fostering educational improvement with research-practice partnerships. Phi Delta Kappan.
Farrell, C. C., Penuel, W. R., Allen, A., Anderson, E. R., Bohannon, A. X., Coburn, C. E., & Brown, S. L. (2022). Learning at the Boundaries of Research and Practice: A Framework for Understanding Research–Practice Partnerships. Educational Researcher, 51(3), 197–208.
Penuel, W., R. & Hill, H. C. (2019). Building a knowledge base on research-practice partnerships: Introduction to the special topic collection. AERA Open, 5(4), 1–5.
Penuel, W. R., Farrell, C. C., Anderson, E. A., Coburn, C. E., Allen, A-R., Bohannon, A. X., Hopkins, M., & Brown, S. (2020). A comparative, descriptive study of three research-practice partnerships: Goals, activities, and influence on district policy, practice, and decision making. (Technical Report No. 4). Boulder, CO: National Center for Research in Policy and Practice.
Farrell, C. C., Davidson, K. L., Repko-Erwin, M., Penuel, W. R., Herlihy, C., Potvin, A. S., & Hill, H. (2017). A descriptive study of the IES Researcher–Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research Program: Interim report(Technical Report No. 2). Boulder, CO: National Center for Research in Policy and Practice.
Farrell, C. C., Davidson, K. L., Repko-Erwin, M. E., Penuel, W. R., Quantz, M., Wong, H., Riedy, R., & Brink, Z. (2018). A descriptive study of the IES Researcher–Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research Program: Final report (Technical Report No. 3). Boulder, CO: National Center for Research in Policy and Practice.
Hopkins, M. (2016). Findings from a survey of state science leaders. Boulder, CO: National Center for Research in Policy and Practice.
Hopkins, M., Weddle, H., Gluckman, M. & Gautsch, L. (2019). Boundary crossing in a professional association: The dynamics of research use among state leaders and researchers in a research-practice partnership. AERA Open, 5(4), 1–12.
Hopkins, M., Wiley, K., Penuel, W. R., & Farrell, C. C. (2018). Brokering research in science education policy implementation: The case of a professional association. Evidence and Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate, and Practice, 14(3), 459–476.
Penuel, W. R., Bell, P., Neill, T., Shaw, S., Hopkins, M., & Farrell, C. C. (2018). Building a Networked Improvement Community to promote equitable, coherent systems of science education. AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, 15(1), 30–38.