Designing a Research Exchange

April 5, 2013

Image will this thing fly?

The Wright Brothers finally designed something that could fly, so maybe we could too.

We want to create an exchange, or a collaboration, that would more closely knit research conducted in our School of Education with the teachers and organizations that could feed into it and benefit from it.

After two years of fact finding and data gathering we called our inaugural planning meeting. We invited representatives from faculty, staff, statewide organizations, and school districts. A professional facilitator guided our 4-hour discussion so that we could take notes and participate.

We have examined similar research exchanges operating at other universities and have sifted through to extract what might work in our own context, with our resources and challenges. We came up with the following, to be addressed at subsequent meetings:

Facilitate a place or space for practitioners and researchers to ask questions and get answers

Put system in place that serves not just large districts but all

Must have broad faculty interest and investment

Image the design team meets

Create a repository of information

A collaboration of groups & network of organizations

Build a prototype

Offer mutual incentives for practitioners and researchers, parity in access

A place for simple info sharing, match making, and collaborative research

Funds needed for meetings of collaborators, to hire a full time staff person

Use resources of allied organizations

Ask the University and the School to provides seed/startup funds

Sustain with help from grants

Image our facilitator takes notes

Next steps: Interview faculty researchers to create detailed descriptions of their current work and their future interests

Pursue funding/resources

Define metrics for success

Do 1 or 2 things well, maintain a focus

Discover the important, shared challenges facing practitioners , districts, and statewide entities

Create timeline including school districts and issues of need.

The immediate task is to create a summary and proposal document to present to the Dean.


A Research Exchange

November 7, 2012
We solicit your input for a proposed ‘research exchange’ that would serve the needs of practitioners, administrators, and researchers.
Adam Gamoran (Wisconsin Center for Education Research) and Jack Jorgensen (UW-Madison Education Outreach and Partnerships) have signed a formal agreement proposing ways to strengthen the connection between the research conducted at WCER and outreach activities conducted by School of Education.
One outgrowth of this initiative is the proposal to create a “Research Exchange,” or central hub in the School of Education where faculty/researcher needs and interests related to educational research are matched with the needs of the educational community, and vice versa.
Although based at UW-Madison, this exchange would seek to serve statewide interests and, beyond Wisconsin, practitioners and researchers more generally.
We solicit your ideas to help further shape this idea.  We also plan to talk with groups of superintendents, district  staff, and community organizations.
We are reaching out to you as a valuable source of ideas for shaping such a service.
Do you know of similar initiatives?
What might such an Exchange look like?
What services might you, as a teacher, researcher, or administrator, find most useful?
Jack Jorgensen
Paul Baker

Social media for researchers and academics

April 21, 2012

Here’s my presentation for the AERA 2012 communication workshop i cohosted with friend and colleague Ron Dietel of UCLA CRESST. I suggest things to consider when planning to use social media to share research findings with non-specialist audiences and the media.

Communicating research more effectively

January 21, 2011

Students and faculty who plan to attend the AERA Annual Meeting this year may be interested in a communications professional development course.

A half-day workshop, Communicating research through effective presentations, social media, and writing, will focus on these sometimes neglected skills.

Instructors will be Ron Dietel, assistant director for research use and communications at UCLA’s National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST);  Barbara McKenna, Communications Director for the School Redesign Network at Stanford University and for the Leadership for Equity and Accountability in Districts and Schools (LEADS); and Paul Baker, senior communicator at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER).

The syllabus is here

The course blog is here

The course Ning is here

Registration information is here

Communicating education research

December 28, 2010

Over the years I’ve fielded calls from Frank Schultz, an education reporter for the Janesville (Wis.) Gazette. “Paul, I’m working on a story about (_____). What does education research say about it?”  Frank is good at providing feedback on articles I publish in a quarterly newsletter too. He recently reacted to a story about assessment practices in Wisconsin schools, and ended with this observation:

“. . . In any case, the article makes some sense to me because I have heard similar talk from some edu-doctors around here. Maybe someone should research how to communicate education concepts with the public.”

Frank makes a very good point. There is a lot of room for improvement.  Researchers often seem to live on a different planet from classroom teachers, not to mention the man in the street.

Speaking as a communicator, I can report on a few efforts to bridge the gap, both continuing and sporadic.

Members of the American Educational Research Assn. have two interest groups to address communication issues:  Communication of Research and Research Use.

AERA’s Communication and Outreach Committee presents panels at each year’s annual meeting on communicating education research to the public. I have helped organize this panel for the past 2 or 3 years. We gather newspaper reporters, bloggers, and researchers to speak about communication from their perspective.

In my own work I take cues from my friends in science, including the Natl. Assn. of Science Writers and the AAAS and the NSF.  Last year I attended their joint conference on science research communication and can recommend it.

The Education Writers Association, which serves reporters, editors, and higher ed communicators, holds workshops throughout the year and an annual conference. I’ve benefited from getting to know reporters and other higher ed people and look forward to the next conference in April.

In our own state, WCER hosts leaders of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESAs) annually for a one-day conference. Researchers share their recent work with CESA staff and productive conversation ensues; sometimes new partnerships form.

So what I describe is a mix of research and practice. Frank’s original point remains, though:  The field of education communication is ripe for more research on what’s effective.

Communicating research through mass media

May 4, 2010

Here’s a gold mine of ideas how researchers can communicate more effectively with the public, via print, broadcast, and online media.

At the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Denver we heard from two researchers and two media people. The topic of the panel session was “Crafting your work for a general audience: Researchers and the mass media.”

scott jaschik

scott jaschik

Scott Jaschik,  “You guys are losing the battle for ideas and you are largely ignored.”
Watch video

holly yettick

holly yettick

Holly Yettick, formerly with Rocky Mountain News.  “How education journalists and bloggers decide which topics to cover.”
(Holly is author of the report “The Research that Reaches the Public: Who Produces the Educational Research Mentioned in the News Media?”)  Watch video

marc lamont hill

marc lamont hill

Marc Lamont Hill, Teachers College, Columbia. “Operating in these public spheres is legitimate work and necessary work.”
Watch video

jonathan zimmerman

jonathan zimmerman

Jonathan Zimmerman, NYU Steinhardt. “Being an Op-Ed writer has made me a much better historian and a much better academic”
Watch video

Adding value to a conference session via tweeting

May 1, 2010
colorado convention center, denver
Colorado convention center, Denver

I contend that tweeting from conference sessions adds value to any presentation or panel by bringing others into the conversation and by creating an online record for future reference.

I have been tweeting from the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) here in Denver. Today in particular I was gratified not only by the number of retweets but also by the number of original replies and added information.  After the session I told the organizers that the presentations were reaching more people than those who happened to be in the room.  They were delighted.

The session was titled “Barriers to equilibrium: Research supply and demand” and was organized by the AERA Research Use Special Interest Group. The audience consisted of researchers, practitioners, and communicators.

We used the hashtag #AERA and some of us were using the Tweetchat room

I reproduce below my 18 tweets from the session and then the 19 retweets and comments that those tweets received in real time and afterward. Notice that some tweets were retweeted 3 times, greatly expanding their reach to all followers of each person tweeting.

First my tweets, then the responses.

How when & why teachers use research: 31.065 Learning Point Assocs. #Aera #Aera

How to empower Ts who access & use research? #Aera

What are some possibilities for engaging practitioners in data gathering? Some already do, and feel overwhelmed. #Aera

Research supporting practice in education #Aera

Knowledge brokers operate in the ‘white space’ of the broader ed system #Aera

Important to have a skilled facilitator, coach, cheerleader, who can span boundaries bet. worlds of practice & resch #Aera

In BC (Canada) professional learning communities are suspect & considered a threat to T autonomy. #Aera

Practitioners need help implementing research. Govt (in BC) not a trusted source of info. #Aera

Practitioners either still unaware of relevant resch or lack time to find and use it. #Aera

Best way to facilitate resch use: time for practitioners to collaborate w colleagues. #Aera

Scholarly reward system does not emphasize dissem to practitioners. Need for more open access. #Aera

Schools & districts shd create a library of ed resch. Ts will use resch under the right conditions. #Aera

Districts shd filter high quality for Ts, give structured time for using resch, #Aera

Teacher prep programs shd bring researchers and preservice Ts together, encourage Ts’ use of resch on the job. #Aera

Be clear abt context of study & applicability to other settings #Aera

Researchers shd promote work, use synopses, show applicability, give illustrations, write in accessible manner. #Aera

Barriers to Ts using resch: lack of time, articles overwhelming, controlled rsch settings not ‘real life’, may lack practical examples #Aera

Retweets and comments

Bonita DeAmicis bonitadee  @DrGarcia @doug_holton @pabaker55 Ed pract. tired of research promoted by $$-makers, too. Question bias in purpose + feels slimy. #aera

Doug Holton doug_holton @bonitadee @pabaker55 teachers value ideas that make sense-unfortunately sometimes they are not research based #aera

Greg McVerry jgmac1106  @bonitadee @pabaker55 #aera yes I hear it all the time from teachers “show me one study that says x and I will find one that says opposite.”

Bonita DeAmicis bonitadee  @pabaker55 + Ed practitioners don’t value research. They hear contradiction from yr to yr. Need ways to weed out junk quickly. #aera

Bonita DeAmicis bonitadee @pabaker55 + Ed practitioners don’t value research. They hear contradiction from yr to yr. Need ways to weed out junk quickly.

Bonita DeAmicis bonitadee  RT @jgmac1106: @pabaker55  I think any grant funded by IES should have to be published in open access journals.

Greg McVerry jgmac1106 @pabaker55 #Aera I think any grant funded by IES should have to be published in open access journals.

Rey Junco reyjunco  @jerridkruse @pabaker55 Thats why it’s incumbent on ed researchers to translate some of their findings to practice

Seann Dikkers sdikkers  @pabaker55 #Aera

Jerrid Kruse jerridkruse   @pabaker55 web 2.0 provides opportunity to connect research to practice. Ie:

Jerrid Kruse jerridkruse  @pabaker55 that is not a dig against teachers, but against researchers who have lost sight of the goal #AERA

Jerrid Kruse jerridkruse  @pabaker55 in many ways research has become so esoteric, that practitioners can’t make use of it #AERA

Jerrid Kruse jerridkruse  @pabaker55 I don’t think is enough. Need to change higher ed expectations. Part of tenure should be demonstrates work with real schools.

Jerrid Kruse jerridkruse   @pabaker55 because of “publish or perish” philosophy, education researchers can only pay lip service to affecting real classrooms #AERA

Jerrid Kruse jerridkruse  @pabaker55 do we really wonder why there is disconnect b/w research & practice? Higher ed doesn’t value connecting the two. #AERA

Jerrid Kruse jerridkruse  YES!!! RT: Scholarly reward system does not emphasize dissem to practitioners. Need for more open access. #Aera /via @pabaker55

Jonathan Becker jonbecker @pabaker55 a-freakin-men. #AERA

Greg McVerry jgmac1106  @pabaker55 there are many barriers to schools accessing research. Cost and bad writing high list. #Aera

Dr. David D. Timony DrTimony YES! RT @pabaker55: Teacher prep programs shd bring researchers and preservice Ts together, encourage Ts’ use of resch on the job. #Aera