Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Why There Is a Need to Discuss the Gap between Research and Practice

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Why There Is a Need to Discuss the Gap between Research and Practice

Article excerpt

As a park and recreation practitioner or, more accurately, a former practitioner, I have some thoughts and ideas about why a gap exists between research and practice. If NRPA wants to understand why practitioners are not attending research sessions, then it should identify who is likely to attend its National Conferences. I have been a participant in many NRPA Conferences and my observation is that the information researchers provide is usually topical for park and recreation commissioners, directors, superintendents or those working in highly specialized areas of parks or recreation, such as national parks. That is usually the attendees they attract. Presently, that makes sense because, often, at the park and recreation commission level, the trip to Conference represents a perk, as usually these are voluntary, appointed or elected officials. The same can be said for park and recreation directors and superintendents in larger recreation agencies. Therefore, it is not surprising that research information is focused on mainly the group of practitioners at the director and superintendent level, as well as on commissioners. Perhaps one of the assumptions of the research presenters is that the information provided in a session will eventually be shared with the rest of the agency employees. What data is NRPA collecting and using to make decisions?

Often in my career, I wondered why college and university researchers did not produce useful information that park and recreation professionals can use on a daily basis. In fairness to academic researchers, they have their own clientele that has to be satisfied, including their employers, core-searchers among other academicians and specialized clientele that provide funding and other resources to the institution. I became involved as a board member for the Learning Resources Network (LERN) in the 1980s, exactly because recreation professionals did not have useful information to base decisions on, while, at the same time, the trend was moving toward becoming more businesslike.

LERN, at the time, was a mix of nonprofits and a smaller number of for-profit providers of recreation programs and services. While on the board, I felt that an important goal would be to see that LERN materials and seminars become accessible to park and recreation professionals; this in fact happened. Eventually, park and recreation professionals became their largest membership base. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.