A knowledge mobilization framework: Towards more evidence-based statistical communication practices in education research


The evidence-based decision-making movement often assumes that once evidence is available (e.g., via the What Works Clearinghouse), decision-makers will integrate it into their practice. Research-practice partnership studies have shown this is not always true. In this paper, we argue that instead of assuming research will be useful and used, we should directly study strategies for disseminating evidence and mobilizing knowledge. We present a framework for organizing knowledge mobilization research into three facets: (1) examining norms embedded in evidence we communicate, (2) descriptively understanding how decision-makers reason about this evidence as well as their varied decision-making needs, and (3) prescriptively developing and evaluating communication strategies that facilitate better use of evidence by decision-makers. We delineate this three-faceted framework — normative, descriptive, prescriptive — and demonstrate how it considers the perspectives and priorities of both researchers and decision-makers. Focusing on a case study—of how statistical evidence is conveyed by clearinghouses—we point to existing evidence in education and other fields such as data visualization and cognitive psychology that should inform our communication practices and identify areas where further knowledge mobilization research is needed.

Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness
Kaitlyn G. Fitzgerald
Assistant Professor