Christine R. et. a. (2011) Bridging the Research ­to ­Practice Gap: A Review of the Literature Focusing on Inclusive Education

Christine R. Grima. Farrell, Alan Bain and Sarah H. McDonagh (2011). Bridging the Research ­to ­Practice Gap: A Review of the Literature Focusing on Inclusive Education. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 35, pp 117-­136

Despite advances in our knowledge of evidence-based inclusive educational practice, much of this knowledge does not reach routine classroom practice. There remains a significant gap between our accumulated knowledge about what can work in classrooms and the extent to which evidence-based practice is used in sustainable ways. This inability to bridge the research-to-practice gap has an adverse effect on the progress of inclusion in schools and the ability of individual teachers to respond to the needs of all students. This review examines those factors that both enable and interfere with the successful translation of research to practice in education settings.

Despite research advances there is an evident gap between what happens in the classroom and what research tells us.  This article explored the question, what factors contribute to sustained research to practice projects that respond to the diverse needs of students (p118).  The article outlined three areas that influence research to practice. These were usability, accessibility and trustworthiness of the research.  I can directly relate to the first two areas.  There are many great interventions that i would like to try in my own practice but either I don't have the time or  the intervention is too impractical for the scales to which i need it to operate on.  The authors also stated that inadequate links between universities and schools further increases the lack of trust between research and practice.  This is true in parts as it is felt by many teachers that research is often disconnected to practice or that it explores something and gives greater understanding but what teachers want are strategies "tell me what i can do to address the problem". 

Consistant with this notion, Carnine (1997) and Sydoriak and Fields (1997) summarised these factors in their six principles: 
(1) importance of practicality, concreteness and specificity of research-based practices; 
(2) scope and magnitude of intended change should not be too broad or too vague; 
(3) linking research ideas to classroom situations with opportunities to experiment with feedback; 
(4) collaboration and joint problem-solving between researchers and practitioners, ensuring links to real-life situations; 
(5) frequent and substantive interaction to give teachers the opportunity to discuss new practices and (6) relating research applications to improvements in learning for all students. Collectively, these principles propose the promotion of sustained use of research, summarising concerns presented over the last four decades. (Pg123)

Researchers need to disseminate their research in more user friendly formats and practitioners need to be more actively involved in the review of research.  Where we (teachers) find the time to do that was not stated.  It was however noted that the considerable time it took to implement research based interventions was a barrier to their success.

For research to be applied by practitioners then it needs to be marketed by the researchers.  Applying this as a Learning Support Coordinator I can see that for anything to move from theory to practice it needs marketing and support from those involved. Research indicated that projects that were designed to meet the needs of a range of students were more likely to be maintained if they were supported by a number of staff in a school.  they must also 'buy' in support from the key stakeholders who are going to implement and maintain them (p127). It was also acknowledged that for researched based practices to work there needs to be an awareness of organizational demands.  It is often difficult to be mindful of the pressures placed on classroom teachers by various agendas that compete for their attention. I know i am guilty of it on occasion going to curriculum leadership meetings and pushing literacy or pushing the need for greater time allocations for life skills syllabus development.  There needs to be a balance and understanding that research based practice will come but not if it is forced upon practitioners.