Monday 29 June 2015

The School Research Lead - How well are you doing in helping others become better evidence-informed practitioners

As the end of the academic year approaches, you may be thinking about your own teaching of evidence-informed practice. In other words, how well have you been doing in supporting your colleagues become better evidence-informed practictioners.  Adapting the work of Straus et al (2011) and using my own definition of evidence-informed practice I will list some of the ways in which you can evaluate yourself as a teacher of evidence-informed practice and then consider the implications for the work of the school research-lead.

A self-evaluation in teaching of evidence-informed practice
  1. Am I challenging myself to constantly develop my own skills as an evidence-informed practitioner?
  2. Am I constantly seeking feedback - to challenge my understanding of my performance in teaching evidence-informed practice?
  3. Am I helping colleagues - both inexperienced and experienced - ask well formulated and focussed questions?
  4. Am I incorporating the asking of well formulated questions in the day-to-day work of the school, for example, in department or school meetings or in 1-2 -1s with colleagues?
  5. Am I teaching and modelling search skills in seeking out the best available current evidence, be it academic research or internal school data?
  6. Am I teaching and modelling critical appraisal skills?
  7. Am I teaching and modelling the creation of best-evidence summaries and appraisals
  8. Am I teaching and modelling the integration of best evidence within my teaching or managerial practice?
  9. Am I teaching and modelling the integration of pupil's and other stakeholder's preferences within my own teaching and managerial practice?
  10. Am I developing new ways of evaluating the effectiveness of my teaching of evidence-informed practice?
  11. Am I working - through the use of evidence-informed practice - to create mutually supportive yet challenging relationships with colleagues within the school?
  12. Am I working to create a mutually supportive yet self-critical network of colleagues in both schools and other settings?
(Adapted from Straus et al, 2011 p213)

Implications/suggestions for School Research Leads

Trying to identify the implications of the above will depend on where the individual School Research Lead is in developing his or her own skills as an evidence-informed practitioner and the level of maturity of the school in supporting an evidence-informed culture.  Nevertheless, it is possible to identify several implications/suggestions worthy of further consideration.
  1. If you have responded to above the questions predominantly with YES answers, then great.  Think about what is working and try and do more of it, and if something is not working, stop doing it and do something else instead.
  2. Avoid being intimidated by the above list of questions, it is unlikely that you will have answered YES to a majority of the questions.  Focus on what you can control and is within your domain of influence.   Start with yourself by posing well-formulated questions.
  3. If you answered NO to any of the questions - then pose yourself the question - Why did I answer NO.  What's going on?  Are there things I could stop doing which are getting in the way of my teaching of evidence-informed practice
Becoming expert as both and evidence-informed practitioner and teacher of evidence-informed practice is not something that happens overnight.  It will take time, effort and patience.  It is not a quick fix for a current problem - but rather is an approach which needs to be embedded in day to day practice.  Teaching is potentially a forty year career, the evidence of what works for our pupils is likely to change over that period of time, keeping up with the evidence and helping colleagues do the same, is less an option more a necessity.

Straus, S.E., Glasziou, P., Richardson, W. S. & Haynes, B.R. (2011)  Evidence Based Medicine : How to practice and teach it, (4th edition), Churchill Livingston.


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