Building collaborative research partnerships to support knowledge translation and impact

Year: 2019

Author: Cattlin, Joann, Imms, Wesley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Increased government focus on evidence informed education policies is matched by growing interest from educators in accessing and using research to inform practices. However there remains a gap between research and practice in education due in part to the mismatch in priorities between the two groups and barriers to sharing information. Collaborative research involving teachers, education authorities, industry and community is one of the most effective mechanisms for building and sustaining quality research and uptake of new knowledge. These collaborations also enhance the involvement of these groups in supporting improved social equity by engaging them in the process of applied research and connecting them with other stakeholders. While research partnerships provide an opportunity to support translation the dynamics of research partnerships and balancing the priorities of the partners and integrity of the research are complex and involve significant time, effort and careful negotiation.

The Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change project (ILETC) in an Australian Research Council Linkage project involving 17 government and industry partners. The project has developed strategies which have generated deep engagement with these partners with a focus on reciprocal exchange of information and building connections across partner networks to facilitate access to research outputs. The approach is based on knowledge translation strategies which show partners engaged in iterative, reciprocal information sharing, co-production of knowledge make it more likely that research findings will be used.

This presentation will report on evaluation of the engagement and knowledge translation using an embedded single case study to document the experiences and reflections of the ILETC partner representatives and project team members through semi structured interviews repeated at six- month intervals over two years. The analysis of these interviews involved coding to identify emerging themes and using a scale for knowledge utilization to evaluate the impact of the research.

The findings indicate that the strategies used to build engagement with teachers, school leaders and architects such as progressive publishing of project findings in open access reports, fact sheets, workshops and briefings achieved significant impact. In the first two years of the project findings were influencing partner policy and practices, generating co-produced knowledge and igniting interest in new research initiatives. The evaluation highlighted the importance of developing deep and broad connections between the team and partner organisations to build trust and support clear understanding of each other’s priorities and publishing outputs in plain language that were accessible and relevant to partners.