Bridging the gap between research and practice

The premise of this paper is that the acknowledged gap between research and practice is primarily a gap between two sharply contrasting kinds of knowledge. The nature of this contrast is described and it is suggested that these two kinds of knowledge are at the opposite ends of a spectrum of kinds of knowledge related to classroom teaching and learning. Three possible ways of bridging this gap are explored. The first of these is derived from research. To bridge the gap, it is suggested, several steps are necessary from each of the two extremes before a balanced dialogue is likely to be possible. The process culminates in the critical trial by teachers of research‐based suggestions in the context of their own practice.

A second complementary way of bridging the gap is through the choice of research strategies designed for that purpose. Three principles that might guide the choice of such strategies are suggested and exemplified; and it is noted that relatively little educational research in the UK has been in line with these principles. It is also noted that this second approach can facilitate, but not replace, the first. The third way of bridging the gap is through the development of ‘knowledge‐creating schools’ and the related idea of ‘Mode 2’ research. Being located near the middle of the continuum, and being designed to incorporate the complementary strengths of both ends of the continuum, such research might eliminate the gap entirely. Despite major issues concerning the validation and dissemination of knowledge claims, the development of all schools as knowledge‐creating schools is seen as an attractive idea, but not one that can replace the first approach.

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