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Knowledge Mobilization Networks in Action: A Scoping Review of Research-Practice Partnerships in Education

Tue, April 9, 12:20 to 1:50pm, Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Mezzanine Level, Alberta


Objective and Perspective: Research-practice-partnerships (RPPs) are emerging as an important network mechanism to improve connections between evidence, practice and policy in education (Author, 2013). Author (2013) define research-practice-partnerships (RPPs) as “Long-term, mutualistic collaborations between practitioners and researchers that are intentionally organized to investigate problems of practice and solutions for improving district outcomes” (p. 2). A scoping review was conducted to answer the four research questions:
1. What are the theoretical foundations (terminology, rationale, frameworks) for research-practice-policy (Knowledge Mobilization, KMb) networks?
2. What empirical research supports research-practice-policy networks as a basis for professional learning?
3. What methods and metrics are being used to evaluate the impact of KMb networks?
4. What are the key messages from previous research on KMb networks?

Methods and Data: The scoping review used a five stage process adapted from Arksey and O’Malley (2005) which included: 1) Identifying the research questions; 2) Identifying relevant studies using key-word permutations in conjunction with research librarian (N = 2,159); 3) Study selection through double-blind screening of 2,159 titles and abstracts (Full text retrieval N = 171), and then double-blind screening of 171 full articles for inclusion (Final articles included N= 80); 4) Charting the data (Full data extraction conducted on N = 80); 5) Collating, Summarizing and Reporting Results. Data extraction for each of the 80 articles was conducted using a common template and all articles were coded in Nvivo.

Findings and Significance: We propose a framework for understanding the organization and work of RPPs emerging from our scoping review. At the core lies shared goals, co-production, and multi-stakeholder collaboration organized around three dimensions: 1) Systems and Structures, 2) Collaborative Processes, and 3) Continuous Learning .

In addition to the framework, five lessons emerged for RPPs to be successful: the need to build reciprocal streets of engagement, the need to shift data use from accountability and compliance to network learning, the need to co-produce and identify specific entry points of change, a focus on capacity-building and leveraging brokers across networks, and the need to use communication as a problem-solving tool to assess and adjust innovations and implementation rather than passive reports of activities.

In the end, RPPs represent a radically different mechanism to go about knowledge mobilization efforts. RPPs are increasing in the US and Canada, and this scoping review provides a systematic framework with elements arising from the empirical literature to further explore and assess the impact of RPPs across diverse contexts. Even though RPPs are resource intensive, those that ultimately benefit from these multi-stakeholder networks are the educators, students, families, and communities they serve as the best available evidence is applied to improve the education system.


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