Why is this Evidence-Based Practice not in Widespread Use?

Julia Westera   Julia Westera

Some of the most powerful evidence-based practices, such as formative assessment / feedback and reciprocal teaching, are not in common use and/or are the least well implemented. International researchers have for a long time raised concerns that these complex interventions are widely misunderstood and prone to ‘fall prey to lethal mutations’[1] – by both teachers in their classrooms and in online forums. These can produce nil or negative results for our students.

This issue, common in applied science, is centre-stage internationally. Attempts to address it have generated the rise of the new discipline of implementation science.

At a system level, barriers to using implementation science effectively to inform change, have included a lack of funding, a short-term reactive environment for innovation, lack of mechanisms for refining practitioner knowledge into a professional knowledge base, insufficient involvement by school-based leaders, and failure to build relational trust.[2]

The implication is that attention must be paid to getting it right on the ground. This means that set-up and implementation must be deeply theory-driven, informed by understandings and practices based on ‘improvement science’.[3] Central to this is informed and determined leadership in a school, and an effective plan for this instructional apprenticeship approach.

The RT3T™ modernised version was developed in response to this situation.

[1] Ed Haertle (1986) first coined the term “lethal mutations” with science-based methods in education.

[2] Robinson, Hohepa & Lloyd (2009). School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis, http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/resources/publications/ruminations-reinventing-rd-capacity-educational-improvement/

[3] Bryk, A.S. et al. (2015). Learning to Improve – Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement, http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/resources/publications/learning-to-improve/

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