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Partners use interactive workshops to establish research agenda

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By Sarah Rand
May 24, 2017

At REL Midwest, our researchers work with practitioners—state education agency staff, teachers, principals, and school administrators—to figure what is important to them to ensure the research is necessary and useful. It is not as easy as asking, "What is important to you?" For the past few months, as the new REL Midwest contract has ramped up, alliance partnership facilitators and research liaisons have facilitated research agenda-setting workshops for the four REL Midwest alliances.

The goal of each workshop was to lead research alliance members through a process to identify a set of priority topics and draft research questions related to the alliance's topic of interest. For example, MAITP developed research questions related to teacher preparation. Workshop participants collaborated to determine five priority topic areas under teacher preparation, including teacher preparation programs, teacher shortages and surpluses in Michigan, teacher retention, teacher recruitment, and teacher compensation. Participants then developed research questions under each of these topics, which resulted in a draft research agenda that will drive the alliance's work for the next five years.

Alliance members find the process to be very useful. MAITP member and teacher Emily Pohlonski appreciates the ability to provide input on research topics that matter to her state. She said, "While there is national research about the teacher pipeline, we need specific information about our needs in Michigan. We want to make sure that every child in Michigan has access to great teachers in all grades and subjects. I am thrilled that our alliance has prioritized research questions around teacher shortages and the quality of teacher preparation in our state."

REL Midwest adapted workshop materials from REL Northeast and Islands resources. If you are a researcher looking to collaborate with practitioners more deeply and meaningfully, REL Midwest highly recommends using these resources, which include an adaptable slide deck and facilitator and participant guides. Please reach out to Carrie Scholz ( for more information and advice about facilitating research agenda-setting workshops.

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Author(s) Information

Sarah Rand Image

Sarah Rand

Communications Consultant | REL Midwest


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