Overcoming the research/practice juncture? Investigating research use as an educational practice

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Calls to bridge the ‘gap’ or ‘juncture’ between research and practice are well-rehearsed and there are large bodies of literature and policy texts that outline models for knowledge mobilisation in education. While these can provide helpful tools for thinking about the mechanisms that may influence research use in education, they problematically overlook the use of research as a complex, sophisticated and professional practice. In particular, they have the tendency to frame research use as a research/supply issue rather than a use/demand issue, as well as foreground researchers’ voices over those of educators. These tendencies can result in an understanding of research use that is overly theoretical and that fails to capture the complexities of both educational practice and what is involved in using research well.

This paper responds to these concerns by exploring how educators conceptualise, relate to and enact quality research use in their day-to-day practice. Drawing on 492 survey responses and 27 interview discussions with Australian educators, thematic analysis was used to explore educators’ views about what it means to ‘use research well’ as an educational practice. This process identified six characteristics that capture the commonalities in how educators practised quality research use, despite approaching it differently across their diverse contexts. These characteristics were then grouped into three ‘levels’ of individual, shared and invested practices.

At the level of individual practice, using research well is driven by educators’ curiosity and is deeply connected to their professionalism. Educators spoke about engaging with research “widely” and in ways that empowered their critical reflection and decision making. At the level of shared practice, educators generated collective “momentum” by using research with a common goal in mind and embedding research use in their shared ways of working. Finally, educators discussed quality research use as an invested practice, where it was informed by a clear sense of purpose and needed to be supported with the investment of time and effort.

These characteristics of research use as an individual, shared and invested practice highlight the importance of moving beyond theoretical models of knowledge mobilisation. By leveraging educators’ perspectives about the fine-grained realities of evidence use as an educational practice, these findings highlight the possible shortcomings in policy initiatives that narrowly stipulate how research should be used. Instead, they offer a different language to think critically about how educational research can be used to inform practice in productive, contextually-specific and meaningful ways.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2023
EventInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2023: Voice, Truth, Place: Critical Junctures for Educational Research - University of Menbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 26 Nov 202330 Nov 2023


ConferenceInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2023
Abbreviated titleAARE 2023
Internet address


  • Research use
  • Educational practice
  • Using research well
  • Using evidence well
  • Quality research use
  • Research-practice gap

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