From Research to the Classroom to an Evidence Based Education – Part 2
How Special Education students stand to benefit
Education Modified is taking a few blog posts to think through the Research to Practice challenge as it applies to Special Education. In Part 1, we looked at the relationship between researchers and educators as well as the nuance between Evidence Based Practices and Research Based Practices.
Today, we will consider how to “bridge” this research to practice gap; in other words, how to best communicate the results that come from the relatively isolated teaching lab to the many teachers in classrooms across the nation. And as Cook, Cook and Landrum examine, how can we make it all “stick”? We continue to be inspired by this branch of study, especially as it stands to improve the education of students with learning disabilities.
Why does this matter? Well, students with disabilities are perhaps most in need of specialized strategies – that work. Their long-term quality of life can be greatly influenced if their experience in school is positive and effective at maximizing their strengths while overcoming their challenges. Moments of breakthrough in the classroom happen when the right teaching practice (i.e. proven effective) is properly implemented for a specific student. Teachers are empowered and the students reap the benefits.
So, what makes information stick for educators? Just having the latest and greatest intervention program or differentiation technique in front of you doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to make its way into your practice, or remain there. There are many other moving parts to consider, such as time, curriculum scope and sequence, resources, etc.
Can anything be done to turn a dense research report into a vibrant reality in the classroom? (We are fairly certain that distributing it to a teacher in a staff meeting at the end of a school-day is not the way.)
But we can look at other fields for some help. As the research states, “there is empirical and theoretical literature outside of special education may offer in-sight into how ideas take hold”. (This is referred to as Implementation Science.) Cook, Cook, and Landrum reference Heath and Heath’s (2008) model that lists 6 characteristics of messages that are likely to “stick”: (a) simple, (b) unexpected, (c) concrete, (d) credible, (e) emotional, and (f) stories.
What if we present relevant teaching practice research to educators in this way? Can this begin to bridge the gap?
From the beginning, our work at Education Modified has prioritized
- Rooting all teaching strategies in research (credible)
- Communicating the essential kernel of information (simple)
- Connecting teaching strategies to the tools needed to implement them (concrete)
- Delivering strategies to teachers within their everyday workflow (unexpected)
As we move forward, we are motivated to expand the other elements of stickiness; emotional and story.
After all, it’s the stories of kids who find success that keep teachers going!
The conversation and the work continues.
Let us know what you think – firstname.lastname@example.org