Towards quality use of evidence in education

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    There is no doubt that the use of evidence is a high-priority issue for leaders in many education jurisdictions internationally (Brown, 2015; Nelson & Campbell, 2019; Penuel et al., 2016). Within Australia, there have been growing calls for the development of an “evidencebased approach” (Productivity Commission, 2016), a “research-rich profession” (White et al., 2018), and a “national evidence institute” (Department of Education and Training, 2018). This article focusses on a specific question that will be integral to these developments – What does it mean to use research evidence well in education? Using evidence well is about moving from a focus on the quality of evidence towards a focus on the quality of use. This is important because improved evidence use in education requires clarity about not only what counts as quality evidence, but also what counts as quality use. To date, there has been wide-ranging debate about the former (see Nutley, Powell, & Davies, 2013), but very little dialogue about the latter. Consequently, this article shares early ideas from the Q Project (Quality Use of Evidence Driving Quality Education), a five-year study focussed specifically on the quality use of research evidence within Australian schools. We start by providing some background on the Q Project, before outlining an early definition and framework of quality use. The different components of this framework are then unpacked, and their implications for educational leadership are discussed. We argue that the ideas presented here can help leaders to reflect on how they are approaching and supporting the use of research evidence, both personally and within their organisations and systems. Finally, we extend an invitation for you to become involved with the Q Project and the process of working towards quality use of research evidence in Australian education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)24-28
    Number of pages4
    JournalThe Australian Educational Leader
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • Evidence base
    • Evidence use
    • Evidence use and evidence generation in practice development
    • Evidence-based education
    • Evidence based teaching

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