BRIDGING THE RESEARCH-TO-PRACTICE GAP
Douglas W. Carnine National Center to Improve the Tools of Educators
A key goal of research in the social and behavioral sciences is the improvement of practice. Basic research is designed to add to an extant knowledge base by formulating, expanding, or evaluating a theory, and is valued because it is concerned with the development of knowledge, which in turn can have implications for altering practice. Applied research is designed to find a solution to an immediate problem, and is valued because it is concerned with the solution of everyday problems that have implications for altering practice. Recently, the extent to which educational research has influenced educational practice has been the focus of professional discussions.
Some researchers argue that a "research-to-practice" gap exists because their research is not designed to make a practical difference (i.e., it is basic research with implications, not direct applications, for practice). They also argue that the problem is that practitioners do not see the implications of their research and therefore contribute to the gap. Practitioners argue that too much research addresses esoteric topics with limited anchoring in the real world. They also argue that researchers create the research-to-practice gap by not involving them in the decision making. With continued arguing, the chasm widens, and an "us-and-them" mentality develops to make making a difference with research even more difficult.
Educational research could and should be a vital resource to teachers, particularly when they work with diverse learners-students with disabilities, children of poverty, limited English speaking students. It is not. This chapter suggests that teachers and others have legitimate concerns about