I have been asked by the organisers of the joint OECD/Netherlands Evidence Based Policy Research [EBPR1] Conference – Linking Evidence to Practice, to focus on the model and role of the Iterative BES Programme as a brokerage agency for evidence-based policy research, and to examine its strengths and weaknesses.
This paper builds upon a paper presented to the 2004 joint OECD/US Evidence Based Policy Research Conference. In that paper considerable attention was given to the rationale for our realist and fit-for-purpose methodological approach to synthesising bodies of evidence. That paper explained for BES development: the importance afforded local context, the rigorous pluralist approach, the search for theoretical coherence, and the use of a ‘jigsaw methodology’ to synthesise research that provides credible evidence about influences on a range of desired outcomes for diverse learners (the what, what magnitude of impact, under what conditions, for whom, why, and how).
I begin this paper by briefly focussing on current national and global educational challenges. I also provide some background about R & D as a system lever to foreground the role of BES as a tool to support sustainable development. Then I explain how the Iterative BES Programme is a collaborative approach led from a national policy agency. I explain the nature of the engagement with and amongst: researchers and teacher educators, teachers, educational leaders, policy workers and policy makers, and the brokerage role of the Iterative BES Programme. I attend to weaknesses and strengths inherent in the work and to lessons we are learning as we engage in this work. The process of identifying weaknesses in the work has been a deliberate, pro-active and ongoing tool to strengthen this cumulative knowledge building approach and particular attention is given to the ‘iterative approach’ in this paper. The emphasis of this paper is on the Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme as a collaborative strategy to stimulate and optimise the potential of R & D for sustainable educational improvement in New Zealand.
The Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme was only formally established in late 2003. To date our thinking about ‘use’ of evidence is that it has its seeds in the synthesis development process rather than following in some linear way. Thinking about use of evidence should be fundamentally informed by an evidence-based approach to sustainable educational development. This paper explains how work-in-progress on educational change processes and interaction amongst policy workers, researchers, educators and educational leaders is informing ‘use’.