Monday, 6 April 2015

The School Research Lead - A definition of evidence-informed practice for teachers and schools

In writing previous posts I have often wondered what is meant by evidence-informed practice.  Now I have thought about it some more and I wish I hadn't. Having now devised a definition of evidence-informed practice, I feel that I have to share it with the 'blogosphere' and 'twitterverse,' both of which are unforgiving environments for the half-formed idea.  Nevertheless, I'm going to send the definition out into the 'wilds' to see what happens.  So here goes:

Drawing upon the work of Barends, Rousseau and Briner (2014),*  and which I have adapted for use by teachers and schools, I would like to offer the following definition of evidence-informed practice

A definition of evidence-informed practice

Evidence-informed practice involves the making of decisions within schools through the conscientious, explicit, judicious and skilful use of four sources of information:  
  • educator's (at all levels of the school) expertise and judgment  
  • open and transparent evidence from both within the school and other sources, which is subject to rigorous evaluation 
  • a critical analysis and appraisal of the best available scholarly research - both theory and evidence
  • the values and preferences of  pupils, educators, parents, employers and other stakeholders who might be affected by the decision.   
And by 
  • Ambitiously : seeking to improve practice through the use of evidence 
  • Acknowledging : and challenging both cognitive and value biases through actively seeking non-confirmatory evidence and views 
  • Asking : translating a practical issue or problem into an answerable question 
  • Acquiring : systematically searching and retrieving both internal and evidence 
  • Appraising : critically judging the trust-worthiness and relevance of the evidence 
  • Aggregating : weighing and pulling together the evidence 
  • Applying : the evidence into the decision-making process 
  • Assessing : evaluating the outcome of the decision-taken and learning from that process to improve future evidence-informed practice 
  • Acting : collegiality and collaboratively to build trusting yet mutually challenging relationships both within and between schools 
to increase the likelihood of favourable outcomes for pupils, educators, the school and the educational system.

So what do you think?

Note - 
I'd like to thank those colleagues who have helped with developing this definition, you know who you are.


Barends, E., Rousseau, D. M., & Briner, R. B. 2014. Evidence-Based Management : The Basic Principles. Centre for Evidence Based Management (Ed.). Amsterdam.
 *This definition is partly adapted from the Sicily statement of evidence-based practice: Dawes, M., Summerskill, W., Glasziou, P., Cartabellotta, A., Martin, J., Hopayian, K., Porzsolt, F., Burls, A., Osborne, J. (2005). Sicily statement on evidence-based practice. BMC  Medical Education, Vol. 5 (1)


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