Research School Network: The why is as important as the what John Rodgers of Cornwall Associate Research School on implementation


The why is as important as the what

John Rodgers of Cornwall Associate Research School on implementation

by Kingsbridge Research School
on the

My old maths teacher used to say to me, It’s not enough for you to see the answer, you have to understand how I got there.”

Why we decide to implement new strategies or practices is as important as deciding which ones to implement. The correct identification of priorities amenable to change is vital if we are to choose the correct intervention that will have the greatest impact.

When I was 10 years old I presented with symptoms of severe headache, stiff neck and a high temperature. My mother took me to the doctor who told her it was just a virus and prescribed bed rest, paracetamol and fluids. The symptoms persisted and my mother grew anxious, returning me to the doctor. Again, the prescribed intervention was paracetamol and rest. Only after a third, then fourth visit did my persistent mother receive the diagnosis that she feared; I was sick with meningitis. Now the intervention changed. I was rushed into hospital, had lumber punctures and blood tests, put on drips and antibiotics. With a clear diagnosis, the correct treatment was effective, and after a week’s stay in an isolation hospital bed I was well enough to return home.

We must be absolutely clear on why we choose to implement any intervention. The why is as important as the what.

Clarity in identifying the need and defining the problem will help us to select the intervention that is most likely to be efficacious. Understanding the root causes of symptoms our students present allows us to make these better choices.

The EEF tool Gathering and Interpreting Data to Identify Priorities” can help schools to do just that. We might begin with an initial hunch or belief about a certain problem we have identified in school. These beliefs can be powerful and sometimes useful, but can also reflect biases and misinterpretations. The thinking behind the hunches should be challenged, probed and checked until we are confident that the identified problem is both real and important. The problem can then become a priority. Two steps to achieving this are; the gathering of relevant and rigorous data and the generation of plausible and credible interpretations of that data.

When we have established the why” of a priority, we can be more confident that the what” we do next as an intervention will have a better chance of being effective.

The why is as important as the what.

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