CEI was delighted in May to re-launch the Evidence and Implementation Virtual Series with a webinar exploring how 'What Works' centres can work to bridge the 'know-do' gap - the lag of approximately 17 years from understanding what works to seeing its use in mainstream practice.
The webinar can be accessed here:
Panelists explored the drivers for success of these centres, including thinking about implementation "right from the beginning", contextualised of evidence, leveraging champions and effective knowledge brokers, and drawing on the voices and inputs of practitioners and policymakers.
Key challenges identified included addressing "who" - among the complex landscape of stakeholders - to bring on board. Another challenge is "the force of inertia" in systems - driven by high workloads and low time availability, in part related to the presence of existing practices that may need de-implementation. Within education, "teachers are incredibly busy and they're every day trying to figure out the right things to be doing in their classroom...we need to figure out the best ways for implementation to happen," noted Dr Jenny Donovan of the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO). Jon Yates of the Youth Endowment Fund described the need to remove barriers to implementation and to make it as easy as possible to change practice.
The panel grappled with how evidence intermediaries can understand if they've made an impact - acknowledging that it is tricky, longstanding challenge. It is useful and meaningful to measure key metrics - including influence, reach of publications, their credibility, and any changes in government funding - but attribution is challenging to ascribe.
Moving toward tracking uptake of evidence and implementation of evidence in practice has potential to support 'What Works' centres to measure behavioural and systems change, noted Dr Robyn Mildon of Centre for Evidence and Implementation. We should "be brave" in doing so, she said in closing.
The panel ended by focusing on questions of equity and representation in research, describing practical steps centres have taken to build this into their work - including both approaches to commission and assess research, as well as the types of research they do.