Research School Network: Implementing evidence-informed approaches to tackling disadvantage John Rodgers of Cornwall Associate Research School on using evidence to tackle disadvantage


Implementing evidence-informed approaches to tackling disadvantage

John Rodgers of Cornwall Associate Research School on using evidence to tackle disadvantage

by Kingsbridge Research School
on the

Defining the problem or challenge that you are trying to address is an important first step in the implementation process. It helps to ensure that you are focusing your efforts on the right issue and can help to guide the selection of an evidence-based practice or intervention.

Here are some tips for defining the problem precisely:

  • Identify the specific challenge or problem. Be as specific as possible, rather than using broad or vague terms. For example, instead of saying we need to improve student achievement,” try something like we need to increase the percentage of students who are proficient in reading comprehension.”
  • Consider the root cause of the problem. It’s important to try to understand what is driving the problem, rather than just addressing the symptoms. For example, if students are struggling with reading, it could be due to a variety of factors, such as a lack of access to books, weak decoding skills, or a lack of motivation.
  • Gather data to support your definition of the problem. Data can help to provide evidence for the problem and help to inform your decision-making. This could include test scores, attendance rates, or feedback from teachers and students.
  • Involve key stakeholders in defining the problem. This could include teachers, school leaders, parents, and students. Involving a diverse group of stakeholders can help to ensure that all perspectives are taken into account and can help to build support for the intervention.

By gathering data to define the problem precisely, educators can ensure that they are focusing their efforts on the right issue and are better equipped to select an evidence-based practice or intervention that is likely to address the problem effectively.

An analogy

To diagnose a patient’s disease, a doctor will first examine the symptoms. These may be clear and lead the clinician to the cause. In other circumstances, symptoms may overlap and the need for further evidence will arise. Blood will be taken, tests will be commissioned, results examined in the search for the underlying cause of the illness. Certain doctors may consider contributing factors: lifestyle, age, family history.

Diagnosis must be of the underlying cause, for only then will the correct treatment be prescribed.

Diagnosing the needs of our pupils may well follow a similar pattern. We often start with a hunch based on the observable symptoms. Our initial knowledge and beliefs should be tested by gathering and interpreting rigorous and relevant data. If we can make plausible and credible interpretations of data drawn from a range of sources, we may well be nearing diagnosis, confident that the identified need is a priority for our students.

Marc Rowland writes, Link exploration of evidence to issues arising from a rigorous assessment of needs. Evidence should inform how schools respond to pupil need in the classroom and in wider school life. A research informed approach, without a rigorous assessment of need, may take schools in the wrong direction.”

As we use evidence to hone and clarify our diagnosis, we should do the same with evidence for strategies, interventions or approaches that address the defined problem. We must ask questions of the evidence, being critical consumers of it. What works? What works, for whom, and in what context? How does it work? What are the active ingredients’?

Picture 1

It is as though the two sides of evidence, the diagnosis and the approach (treatment) are in conversation with one another. The more they talk, the better the fit that will be achieved.

The ultimate goal is for precise diagnosis of need for our students, and the identification of an evidence-informed best bet’ that is contextually appropriate.

Related Events

Show all events

More from the Kingsbridge Research School

Show all news

This website collects a number of cookies from its users for improving your overall experience of the site.Read more