Reflections from a Professional Learning Community for Researchers Working in Research Alliances. Rel 2017-262Report as inadecuate

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Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest

There is a well-known disconnect between research and practice in education. Education practitioners and policymakers continue to make little direct use of research findings to drive state, district, school, and classroom decision-making. Conducting collaborative research is challenging--especially for researchers who have never partnered with practitioners to conduct research. Researchers who have not conducted collaborative research may benefit from forming a professional learning community to connect with other researchers who are engaged in a research-practice partnership. The 2012-17 Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) program required the development of research alliances that are intended to connect practitioners, researchers, and policymakers around regional education challenges. These research alliances were tasked with addressing the challenges through regional research, technical assistance, and engagement projects. This report describes the lessons learned about the common challenges that REL Midwest researchers brought to the professional learning community, the strategies they identified to address the challenges, and the tools they used to overcome the challenges. The intent is to inform others working with research alliances (such as Regional Educational Laboratory staff, academics, and graduate students) as they work to build researchers' capacity to engage in authentic collaboration with their practitioner partners. This reflective piece summarizes one professional learning community's lessons learned and describes how its members worked to align available resources to the specific needs of the researchers and developed tools to help one another overcome various challenges. The following are appended: (1) Research Alliance Theory of Action template and completed example; (2) Touchpoint Timeline tool template and a completed example; and (3) Engagement Plan template.

Descriptors: Educational Researchers, Communities of Practice, Cooperation, Educational Research, Partnerships in Education, Role, Responsibility, Interpersonal Communication, Communication Skills, Communication Strategies, Research Reports

Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest. Available from: Institute of Education Sciences. 555 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20208. Tel: 800-872-5327; Web site:

Author: Scholz, Carrie; Ehrlich, Stacy B.; Roth, Erin


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