Robert Slavin, Director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University, recently wrote the following:
"Sooner or later, schools throughout the U.S. and other countries will be making informed choices among proven programs and practices, implementing them with care and fidelity, and thereby improving outcomes for their children. Because of this, government, foundations, and for-profit organizations will be creating, evaluating, and disseminating proven programs to meet high standards of evidence required by schools and their funders. The consequences of this shift to evidence-based reform will be profound immediately and even more profound over time, as larger numbers of schools and districts come to embrace evidence-based reform and as more proven programs are created and disseminated."
To summarize, Slavin says that (1) schools and other education providers will be using research-based criteria to make decisions (2) that this change will have profound effects, significantly improving learning results, and (3) many stakeholders and institutions within the education field will be making radical changes, including holding themselves and others to account for these improvements.
In Workplace Learning and Performance
But what about us? What about we workplace learning-and-performance professionals? What about our institutions? Will we be left behind? Are we moving toward evidence-based practices ourselves?
My career over the last 16 years is devoted to helping the field bridge the gap between research and practice, so you might imagine that I have a perspective on this. Here it is, in brief:
Some of our field is moving towards research-based practices. But we have lots of roadblocks and gatekeepers that are stalling the journey for the large majority of the industry. I've been pleasantly surprised in working on the Serious eLearning Manifesto about the large number of people who are already using research-based practices; but as a whole, we are still stalled.
Of course, I'm still a believer. I think we'll get there eventually. In the meantime, I want to work with those who are marching ahead, using research wisely, creating better learning for their learners. There are research translaters who we can follow, folks like Ruth Clark, Rich Mayer, K. Anders Ericsson, Jeroen van Merriënboer, Richard E. Clark, Julie Dirksen, Clark Quinn, Gary Klein, and dozens more. There are practitioners who we can emulate–because they are already aligning themselves with the research: Marty Rosenheck, Eric Blumthal, Michael Allen, Cal Wick, Roy Pollock, Andy Jefferson, JC Kinnamon, and thousands of others.
Here's the key question for you who are reading this: "How fast do you want to begin using research-based recommendations?"
And, do you really want to wait for our sister profession to perfect this before taking action?