Research School Network: Putting Evidence into Practice: Five things to consider How to increase the chances of effective implementation


Putting Evidence into Practice: Five things to consider

How to increase the chances of effective implementation

by Research Schools Network
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Phil Stock, Director of Greenshaw Research School, explains what to consider when looking to put research evidence into practice.

So, you’ve identified an area for development in your school. You’ve explored the evidence and have a pretty good sense of what approach is most likely to work in your context.

What then? What might you then need to consider to put that evidence into action effectively?

For the best chance of success, you might want to consider the following:

1. Understand the what and the how

Many of the themes in the EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit are broad. For instance, feedback includes studies on digital and oral feedback, whilst metacognition findings are based on studies conducted in primary and secondary sitting. Using the filters to understand the context and nature in which the evidence was gathered will help determine its suitability for your school.

But it’s not just understanding where evidence comes from that matters; it’s also important to understand exactly how it works. Being clear about the active ingredients’ – the things responsible for changing outcomes, such as the use of graphic organisers and think alouds in a reading intervention – should help ensure you stay focused.

2. Involve your staff as much as possible

Since most school development involves changes to teachers’ practice, it is important to involve them as much as possible. This will help them to understand why the proposed change is a priority, and why changes to what they do should make a difference. Their values and beliefs determine their actions, so involving them is likely to lead to more sustainable outcomes.

3. Plan their training

Since improving what teachers do in the classroom is essentially a behavioural change, careful thought is required into what professional development is required to make these changes happen. Drawing upon the evidence from the PD Effective Guidance, in particular the role of mechanisms in behavioural change, is therefore key.

4. Identify the outcomes

Often we make changes without properly considering what we want to see at the end. The pressure to make immediate improvements results in too many priorities not being sufficiently thought through. If we want our actions to make a difference, we should probably focus a little more on evaluation: identifying what success will look like after the training has taken place.

Key questions:

  • What will teachers need to know?
  • What will teachers need to do?
  • How will the pupils behave differently?

5. Adapt and refine

Even the best designed development plans require adaptation in practice. Being clear about the intended outcomes in the short, medium and long term will help to identify where things have gone wrong and where amendments are needed, such as more follow up training or providing increased time to sustain change.

There are no guarantees for effective implementation, but following the above will significantly increase your chances of success.


EEF (2021) Effective Professional Development Guidance Report

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