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  1. University of Glasgow - Schools - School of Education - Research - Publications
  2. Resource Lists
  3. BORDERS AND RUSSIA
  4. Educational Research and Policy-Making: Exploring the Border Country Between Research and Policy

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Email Directory , ' Christianopolis ': ' The society of search or eroticism presentation you have expressing to get is centrally registered for this service. Globalization and its lives. New York: Oxford University Press. It suggests a number of scenarios for the future development of the relationship and throws down some challenges for both communities.

University of Glasgow - Schools - School of Education - Research - Publications

Drawing together contributions from the premier league of UK educationalists the book is both thought-provoking and anxiously awaited by other academics wanting to learn from the experience of senior researchers. Log In. My Account. Remember to clear the cache and close the browser window. Search For:. Advanced Search. Select an Action. Yet, those who research higher education are fragmented and tend not to engage with the policy community for fear this will compromise their academic autonomy.

They assume that policy and practice would be improved by research, but seldom provide evidence or examples of when it has. They forget they are, themselves, interested parties in the object of their studies Brennan, and have largely failed to address criticisms from potential users of the lack of relevance and quality of their research Scott, Indeed, Scott has argued that the main gap appears to be between policy and practice on the one hand and research on the other Scott, However, there are also some very interesting disjunctures between policy and practice — the unintended consequences of policies and the adaptation and reinterpretation of policy initiatives by practitioners for their own purposes — that should be researched more thoroughly.

Wherever the main fractures are in the research—policy—practice nexus, this is a less than optimal state of affairs El-Khawas, a ; Teichler, b , but how are we to remake connections and develop a forward-looking agenda for higher education policy research? This paper first seeks to explore the disjunction between research, policy and practice and the arguments for and against reconnection. Secondly, it examines the use of evidence in its various forms by policy-makers and aims to offer a more detailed portrayal of this process, using recent national English examples to elucidate the complexities.

Finally, the paper addresses how higher education research can reconnect with policy-makers and practitioners and begin to influence policy research agendas in ways that are likely to add to the long-term, holistic evidence base and improve its utilization. Teichler, c , 9. The lack of respect may be partly because higher education research has become fragmented and the knowledge that is available is rarely accumulated in a systematic way.

There are different kinds of higher education researcher with different objectives Scott, and separation between academic researchers, policy-related researchers and institutional researchers El-Khawas, a , b. Even among academic researchers there are those who regard higher education as their main field of study and those from traditional academic disciplines who study higher education as an occasional endeavour Teichler, a. Several commentators have also pointed out that, as a result of this fragmentation and detachment, higher education research has not yet developed a paradigm of its own Maassen, It lacks coherent theoretical and methodological frameworks Scott, and accepted disciplinary characteristics Teichler, c.

It is regarded by some as eclectic in mixing systematic information and impressionistic interpretation Teichler, c , and by others as value-laden, philistine and even anti-intellectual Scott, Accordingly, it is weakly institutionalized Schwarz and Teichler, ; Scott, ; Teichler, and lacks stability and quality Teichler, c and even the level of investment in institutional research remains low, despite its potential value for higher education managers Shattock, ; Watson and Maddison, Constrained by short-term, small-scale consultancy-style funding and the turbulence of higher education and higher education policy, it is still driven more by political debate than by agendas developed from within the field Frackmann, , referred to in Teichler, c.

Perhaps, for education research in particular, we need to be aware of who is commissioning, funding and benefiting from the activity. The fragmentation of higher education research and its proximity to policy and practice suggests that it does not help to think of research on the one hand and policy and practice on the other as monolithic and discrete entities. We need to recognize that the relations between these domains change over time and vary between different countries; for example, in the US they have usually been regarded as stronger than in Europe El-Khawas, a.

So, we need to analyse the nexus in the context of particular policy initiatives, specific changes in practice and the research findings utilized. A historical and comparative approach can be very illuminating and specific policy initiatives need to be carefully analysed in their particularity. The domains, in any case, are becoming less and less distinguishable. Apart from the fragmentation of higher education research already mentioned, the borders between the systematic generation of knowledge and scholarship, evaluation and monitoring, action research, problem-solving, consultancy, reflective practice and professional development are becoming increasingly fuzzy Teichler, c.

This may be particularly pertinent to higher education, perhaps, because its practitioners have such a sophisticated knowledge of the field and high intellectual competence themselves Teichler, c. On the one hand, efforts to make higher education research more relevant to decision-makers may render it less rigorous in the eyes of academic peers, and therefore even less likely to result in publication in prestigious journals. On the other, attempts to build a firmer intellectual foundation, a more critical and sharper analytical edge and a stronger institutional base within higher education itself, all risk eroding its influence on national policy making and institutional practice.

The trick is to increase the relevance of higher education research to decision-making at all levels while retaining — even strengthening — its rigour.

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My argument is that, in order to achieve this, we need a better understanding of the policy-making process and the place of research evidence within this. The box below summarizes the main arguments for and against links between research, policy and practice, which ultimately boil down to normative lines of reason — whether links should be made — and practical issues — whether the links can be made. The boundaries between higher education research on the one hand and policy and practice on the other are fuzzy Teichler, c.

Higher education research has something to offer policy and practice e. Researchers should offer their knowledge to the powerless, the under-represented and the voiceless rather than to governments and political elites. Policy-makers also undertake research into higher education, and it would benefit both parties if the approaches taken met academic standards, so that knowledge can be accumulated, findings verified and valid comparisons made.

They create difficulties in consolidating the theoretical and methodological basis of higher education research and they bias research perspectives and shape general approaches Teichler, b , c. They give rise to an overly utilitarian approach in higher education research Teichler, c and greater proximity influences the way the findings of higher education research are disseminated and perceived and utilized by practitioners Teichler, b. There is a lack of concern among policy-makers and practitioners for systematic knowledge about higher education. It is perceived as irrelevant, lacking in quality, untimely and poorly presented Scott, There is no encouraging history of the application of educational research to policy and practice Kogan and Henkel, Even when it is used, it is only to legitimize ideologies and existing policy positions Eriksson and Sundelius, Research can never provide the conclusive evidence that policy-makers desire.

Even if it can inform a desirable policy outcome , it will be of little help in determining the means of achieving it. Higher education research itself is fragmented, between academic research searching for general explanations, policy-research identifying policy options for particular issues and action research seeking context-specific solutions to institutional problems El-Khawas, a. So it is not surprising that the evidence of the direct effects of research on major policy shifts is difficult to come by.

However, this is not itself proof that examples of research-informed policy decisions are rare, just that our knowledge of them is limited.

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They accuse them of commissioning narrowly conceived reports with few links to the enduring themes of the research literature El-Khawas, a and even of only using research findings when they provide legitimacy for their ideologies and pre-existing policy positions. Studies of the policy reception of research suggest that the take-up of findings may depend on how far they accord with the political and social Zeitgeist of the time Kogan and Henkel, , or even whether they can be used in power-bargaining to justify a policy position that is otherwise based on values and conviction.

However, UK government claims to evidence-based policy-making e.

Cabinet Office, and the introduction of a cyclical spending review process that is based on substantiated submissions to the Treasury from each government department at least offer the rhetoric of a place for research in policy-making and an opening for researchers to press their case. A better understanding of the policy-making process and the factors that facilitate or inhibit the take-up of research findings is needed, including the role of the commissioners of research and how findings are presented to, and understood by, policy-makers.

An analysis of the current research strategies of the English education ministry e.


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DfES, and its funding council the Higher Education Funding Council for England, HEFCE , for example, appears to confirm a rather short-term, small-scale, narrowly focused, solutions-orientated approach to commissioning studies. HEFCE studies predominantly aimed to promote and encourage institutional change, evaluate projects and investigate policy feasibility and implementation. Policy bodies appeared to want strategic, long-term research that can shape agendas rather than simply responding to them, but there was little agreement about who should undertake this Brennan et al.

The resulting reports tended to be framed around vague aims and ad hoc research questions, reflecting immediate preoccupations rather than wider issues or previous research findings. They were more descriptive than conceptually and methodologically elaborated and required further analysis and interpretation if they were to support conclusions and recommendations.

Ultimately, ambiguities about the relationship between research and policy, and the reasons for collecting evidence seemed to undermine the impact of the reports on the policy process Brennan et al. These factors, the authors of the report argue, are accentuated by broader issues to do with the perceived legitimacy of policy-making in general. For the remainder of this section, I examine the conditions that appear to be conducive to policy-makers using research and, in the penultimate section of this paper, explore how these might be brought about.

Adapted from El-Khawas, b , 44— The role of research managers is critical, acting as internal brokers between researchers and policy-makers, encouraging the latter to identify research to be commissioned, to secure funding for this and to monitor and advise the researchers. There is potential for an advocacy role here, as the research manager can promote longer term, broader, conceptually developed and methodologically sound studies that build on previous findings.

The reception or take-up of research by policy-makers and practitioners, however, is not well understood. I go on to attempt this in the following section, particularly with regard to aspects of the English White Paper, The Future of Higher Education DfES, a , which contained a range of proposals, some of which required legal reforms introduced by the Higher Education Act.

This section of the paper includes three examples of the different ways in which research evidence was used in support of the proposals in the White Paper published in January and in the debates leading up to the publication of the HE Bill in January The three examples relate to proposals on HE expansion, variable fees and the criteria for University title.

Educational Research and Policy-Making: Exploring the Border Country Between Research and Policy

Of necessity, the summary of the analysis of each example is very truncated. A comprehensive review of the academic literature suggest[ing] that there is compelling evidence that education increases productivity, and moreover that higher education is the most important phase of education for economic growth in developed countries, with increases in HE found to be positively and significantly related to per capita income growth. The review also found that education is highly likely to give rise to further indirect effects on growth by stimulating more effective use of resources, and more physical capital investment and technology adoption.

DfES, a , However, the authors of The Future of Higher Education do not consider the implications of their own warning, that there is no simple causal relationship between more highly educated workers and economic growth. Wolf, , We have carefully considered the question of whether an additional contribution should be paid at a flat rate — so that it is the same wherever and whatever a student studies — or whether it should vary according to institution and course.

It is absolutely clear that students get different returns from different courses. A more prestigious university attracts students of higher academic ability and with different backgrounds than students registering at modern institutions, a simple comparison of the earnings can be misleading as it does not account for pre-university personal and academic characteristics.

Chevalier and Conlon, , iii.