Saturday, 12 March 2016

Five great reads for evidence-based practitioners

A few weeks ago Alex Quigley wrote an excellent blogpost entitled Five great reads for evidence-informed teachers.  Now I have to say,  I took Alex to task as I felt his selection would have been better called Five great reads for research-informed teachers, as his reading list focused exclusively on research evidence and unwittingly re-inforced the notion that evidence-based practice is the same as research-based practice.  So having gently drawn this to Alex's attention, it seems sensible to identify a number of books which can shed light on the process of being an evidence-based practitioner.*

So if you are already looking to purchase your Easter Break reading, I'd like to recommend that you have a look at one of the following.

John Dewey : How we think for a fascinating opening chapter on what is thought and the nature of reflective thinking, which I believe makes a compelling case for real evidence-based practice.

Daniel Willingham : When can you trust the experts : How to tell good science from bad in education for a really useful four-step work-around to help teachers make sense of educational research

Chris Argyris and Donald A Schon : Theory in practice and their attempt to answer the following questions : What is professional competence? How  is competence learned? How can professional education be redesigned to develop competent practice?

John Bransford et al (eds) The the role of research in educational improvement and in particular Andy Hargreaves and Corrie Stone-Johnson's chapter Evidence-informed change and the practice of teaching.

Georg von Krocht, Kauz Ichijo and Ikujiro Nonaka : Enabling knowledge creation: How to unlock the mystery of tacit knowledge and release the power of innovation and their work in identifying five knowledge enablers - knowledge vision, manage conversations, mobilise knowledge activists, create the right context for knowledge creation, and globalise local knowledge.

* Note - I am now of the view that there is no difference between evidence-based practice and evidence-informed practice.  The latter is a product of evidence-based practice being misrepresented as being based entirely on research evidence and removing the role of practitioner expertise.  I have explored this further in both this BERA blog post  and my recently published handbook : Evidence-Based Practice : A handbook for teachers and school leaders.


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  2. I couldn't agree more with your final note, and have read the BERA blog with great interest. In particular, my eye was caught by the following implication you mentioned:

    "Second, one of the roles HEIs should to help provide teachers with both conceptual clarity and accurate, accessible and relevant summaries of the relevant literature."

    In the animal health sciences a new-ish iniative by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) called "BestBETs for Vets" (see www. is developing quickly. BestBETs are simple reviews of current best evidence on a very specific clinical topic. They are designed to be a quick and achievable method of incorporating evidence into clinical practice for practicing vets. Essentially, they are very specific knowledge summaries, rather than full blown systematic reviews, but build on the same principles.

    It seems to me that a similar approach would be useful to negotiate your second implication. If we can provide easily accessible evidence-based knowledge summaries to education practitioners, they could engage in a manner which fits into day-to-day practice and workloads.

    Obviously, the definition of evidence-base will determine how useful this initiative would be, but I feel your adoption of Barends, Rousseau & Briner would be most appropriate. Similarly, a more broad definition of evidence is provided by Rycroft-Malone et al. (2004) J. Adv. Nursing, 47(1), 81-90. These authors define evidence as "the knowledge derived from a variety of sources that has been subjected to testing and has been found credible". This in my opinion includes practitioner experience which has been "tested" by peers, as well as practice-based and academic research, institutional data analysis, and stakeholder-based evidence.

    Thanks for the post, it provided a useful base for thinking about my EdD proposal! Also, it has given me some more reading to do (Amazon here I come...).


    P.S.: Apologies for the mess, I've been trying to post under my WordPress username, but for some reason it keeps defaulting to Google... must look into this some more later.

    1. Hi

      Many apologies for the delay in replying

      Thanks for your comments - most appreciated.

      I certainly agree that education would benefit from looking at how other disciplines have operationalised evidence-based practice.



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