Teachers and Evidence-Based Practices




Bradley-Black, Katherine H.

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The discrepancy between the findings in research and the practices in the classroom is referred to as the research to practice gap. The research to practice gap has existed for many years in education and despite efforts to identify and bridge the gap, the gap continues to exist. Federal legislation, such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), also referred to as The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA), attempts to reduce the research to practice gap by mandating that educators implement evidence-based practices during the instructional day. The purpose of this study was to gather data from a randomly selected national sample of general education and special education teachers to better comprehend general and special education teachers' understanding and use of evidence-based practices during the instructional day. Using Internet-based survey research and follow-up interviews, general education and special education teachers across the United States were asked to respond to survey items regarding their sources of knowledge of evidence-based practices, their perceived use of evidence-based practices during the instructional day, and what they consider to be barriers to the implementation of evidence-based practices. The survey contained 42 items, subdivided into three scales that included both multiple choice and open-ended items that generated both quantitative and qualitative data. Internal reliability coefficients were significant. In addition, all respondents were asked if they would agree to a follow-up interview to provide additional in-depth information on evidence-based practices. A smaller sample who agreed was interviewed and those qualitative data were used to corroborate survey findings. The major findings of this study revealed the following: (a) no statistical differences between general education and special education teachers' sources of knowledge and understanding, perceptions of use, and reported barriers or challenges regarding evidence-based practices; (b) while general education and special education teachers equally reported confidence in their knowledge and skills to implement evidence-based practices, when asked to provide their own definition of evidence-based practices those definitions were overwhelming rated lower than expected; and (c) both general and special education teachers appeared dependent on the context of the local school district and their own school for accessing information regarding evidence-based practices. Findings are discussed in terms of educational implications, limitations, and future research.



Education, Evidence-based practices, General education teachers, Instructional practices, Research to practice, Special education teachers, Survey research