WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- More than nine in 10 educators access academic research about education, but just 16% use it to inform classroom practice, according to new research by the nonprofit Jefferson Education Exchange. Based on surveys of educators from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the research also found that a majority of teachers have opinions about what education-related topics should be studied, and nearly six in 10 want to get involved in research themselves.
"While educators know that research-based practices are incredibly valuable, identifying and applying relevant research for your own classroom can be a daunting task. That's because all too often, the voice of educators is almost entirely absent from decisions about what ideas, approaches, and strategies get studied by education researchers," said James Daugherty, Arts Education and Distance Learning Specialist for Davidson County Schools in North Carolina. "This report points to an urgent need to give teachers more of a voice in the research process -- in ways that can have a transformative impact for students."
The new findings are based primarily on a survey of more than 1,300 educators conducted in fall 2018, which also found that educators most frequently access research from journal articles; colleagues who have read research; professional conferences; and blogs or newspaper articles. When asked to rate various components of education research on a 7-point scale, respondents found it to be relevant, reliable, and useful, but they were more neutral on its timeliness, easiness to find and understand, and helpfulness to guide practice. However, a smaller follow-up survey conducted with a subset of participants in the report found that just 16% of teachers use research to inform classroom practice.
"The overwhelming majority of educators want to have their voices heard and influence which topics are studied in the future," said Dr. Emily Barton, Director of Implementation Research at the Jefferson Education Exchange and Research Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Human Development. "By involving teachers and school leaders more closely in the research process, we can build a better understanding of why various programs, policies, and technologies yield such uneven results as they are implemented in schools across the country."
The Jefferson Education Exchange is pioneering a new way to elevate educator voice in research related to the implementation of educational technologies, through its EdTech Genome Project. The initiative, launched last month, is bringing together the most influential organizations in education technology and policy, including industry, to create a framework that will help educators make better-informed decisions about what tools to use in their classrooms -- and how to implement those tools most effectively. The project is currently looking for educators and education stakeholders to share their opinions on more than a dozen edtech "implementation variables" -- with the goal of selecting ten of them for deeper study in the coming year.
"This survey suggests that academic research plays an important role in keeping educators informed, but there remains a big gap between the research itself and its translation into actionable ideas and strategies that teachers can use in the classroom," said Dr. Elizabeth Farley-Ripple of the University of Delaware's Center for Research Use in Education, which reviewed the methodology for the survey and will be leading ongoing research efforts on research use and brokerage in the coming months. "Teachers need to play a greater role in shaping which practices and strategies get studied -- in order to fulfill the potential of research as a tool to inform classroom practice and improve student outcomes."
The Jefferson Education Exchange is a nonprofit public charity committed to bringing educator perspectives to bear on edtech procurement and research. Supported by the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education and Human Development, the Jefferson Education Exchange's work centers on research and development to guide the design of research protocols and tools that will enable educators to document and share their experiences with education technology products. Connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
SOURCE Jefferson Education Exchange