What on Earth Has Research Got to Do with Me?

Tags: education | research | Education for sustainable development

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As part of increased calls for ‘evidence-based’ or ‘evidence-informed’ education, there has been a growth of interest in reviews of research as a means of improving the links between educational research and educational practice (Foster & Hammersley, 1998; British Educational Research Association [BERA], 1999; Bassey, 2000). A distinction has been drawn, though, between reviews aimed at other researchers (‘academic reviews’), and reviews targeted towards other research users (‘user reviews’) (Bassey, 2000; BERA, 2001). Bassey (2000) describes a ‘user review’ as:

a document that arises from an academic review, but which is: devised and written by researchers and users working together; brings together the findings of trustworthy research studies on a significant educational topic; and channels them into a short, readable, user-friendly and trustworthy [form]. (p. 25)

This article reports on the process of undertaking a user review project focused on environmental education or ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ (ESD).[1] This project, jointly funded by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), BERA and the General Teaching Council (GTC), was entitled Connecting Research and Practice: Education for Sustainable Development. It involved an NFER researcher working collaboratively with a small group of practitioners to identify implications of previous research in environmental education for the teaching of ESD.

Following a brief outline of the aims and methodology of the project, this article reflects upon the project from the perspectives of the practitioners and the researcher. Together we explore how we came to be involved in this venture, what the highs and lows were during the process, and what we feel we got out of the experience. Based on these reflections, the article ends with some ‘take-away points’ for practitioners and researchers who may be interested in undertaking similar kinds of work.