NFER and knowledge mobilisation

The NFER review of knowledge mobilisation points to several significant hurdles preventing teachers engaging with research evidence to transform learning, but it also gives a clear indication of how to overcome such obstacles. The work by Julie Nelson and Clare O’Beirne, which CEBE and EEF have influenced through the supportive work of Jonathan Sharples, shows how coordinated action across a number of areas and different levels of leadership are required.

Some taking part in the review saw a need for government to take the lead, while others argued for sector-controlled bodies akin to NICE in the health service. Regardless of the preferred route, however, review shows it is important that effort to create an effective system to support knowledge mobilisation gives significant attention to supporting an impetus for knowledge use within the teaching profession. Many barriers to effective teacher engagement were seen to relate to cynicism or apathy about the value and quality of externally-produced research and a substantial job is to be done “winning the hearts and minds” of teachers. The review issues a strong warning: it is unlikely this will be achieved if calls for system change and use of evidence come solely from the research community. Instead, it must be promoted by key influencers in professional associations, teacher unions, teacher development organisations, leadership bodies, ITT and CPD providers and informal teacher networks. There must also be efforts to convert research findings into teacher-specific resources and guides and interaction with researchers to help teachers develop strategies for implementation, monitoring and review.

Currently, there are very few published examples of different strategies and approaches to producing and transforming knowledge for practice. There is little evaluation of the effectiveness of different approaches and as yet no evidence about the ultimate impact of different approaches to knowledge mobilisation on pupil outcomes. There is still much to be done, says the review.