When faced with a persistent problem of practice, savvy educators know to lean on their colleagues for help. The professional learning community, or PLC, is a great way for educators to put their heads together and solve a problem. But what do you do when nobody on your team has a potential solution? Turn to the research of course!
Research review can be an amazing professional learning activity. It is cost effective, timely, job embedded and collaborative. To begin, simply access your favorite research database (I like ERIC for this task) and type in a keyword related to your current problem of practice. Download articles that seem relevant and assign members of your team to read each article before your PLC meeting. Then, when you gather with your group, have a discussion about the literature you have reviewed. Its as simple as that!
Need a little help getting started? Here are seven questions to consider when looking at research with your PLC team.
1. What do we already know about this topic?
Just as we do in our classrooms, we should reflect on our prior knowledge and experience of a topic before we begin to explore a new piece of research. Is this topic brand new to us, or is it something that we are already doing in our classrooms? Have we worked on this topic in our PLC meetings in the past?
2. What research design and methods did the researcher use in this study?
The research design helps us to set our expectations of the research and consider the significance and potential bias a research study may hold. Take a moment to consider the structures that the researchers deployed when planning the study.
3. What did the sample population look like in this study? How is it the same or different from the student population in our school?
Ideally, schools should seek to use research that reflects their own populations. Consider the student population in this study. Where does the sample population overlap with your school’s population? Where are they different? What does the overlap, or lack of overlap, mean for future implementation of the evidence-based practice?
4. Based on this piece of research, what would implementation fidelity look like in our school?
In order for a new evidence-based practice to be impactful, it must be implemented with fidelity. Research helps us create a benchmark for fidelity. How did the researchers deploy the practice in their study? What would you have to do in your classroom to deploy the practice in the same way?
5. What does the data say about this practice? What can we expect to happen if we implement the practice with fidelity?
The Results’ section of a study discusses the impact of an evidence-based practice on the student population. We can use this information to set expectations about what might happen in our own classrooms when we implement a new practice. Based on the information in this study, what can we expect to happen in our own classrooms?
6. What are the potential barriers to implementing this practice with fidelity?
After reading the study, begin to think about the potential barriers to implementing this evidence-based practice with fidelity. What is going to make implementation fidelity difficult? What are the solutions to those challenges? What will we do if the challenges cannot be overcome?
7. What are our next steps? What will we do with this new information before our next PLC?
Before we meet again, what will we do with the information discussed today? Are we ready to begin implementation or is future study necessary? How will we monitor ourselves for implementation fidelity? What data will we collect to know if this practice is working in our classrooms?
When you’re ready to begin your journey, make sure to stop by The Repository. There you will find resources to help you get started. I have a simple video tutorial on navigating the ERIC database, as well as some eBooks that can help you start to think about research application a little more intentionally. I hope you will take a moment to check them out.
Good luck on your journey friends and let me know if I can help.