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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Brown, C & Flood, J (2018). Lost in translation? Can the use of theories of action be effective in helping teachers develop and scale up research-informed practices? Teaching and Teacher Education 72 : 144-154.

Author(s) from Durham


Theories of action represent the systematic exposition of why it is believed strategies or interventions have led, or will lead, to change (e.g. Earl and Timperley (2015)). The notion of research-informed teaching practice meanwhile corresponds to the use of research evidence to improve aspects of teaching and learning (Walker, 2017). To date there has not been substantive research into how best to engage teachers with research evidence on teaching and learning strategies and yet, at the same time, there are many examples of educational scale-up ‘failure’: in other words a failure by teachers to successfully replicate existing impactful evidence-informed practices (e.g. Bradford & Braaten, 2017; Dede, 2016.) Exploring the question ‘Does engaging teachers with theories of action aid the development of impactful research-informed interventions?’ this paper examines whether the use of theories of action can help teachers translate extant research evidence into contextually appropriate research informed teaching practices. Furthermore the paper also explores whether these practices are perceived to have positive benefits both for teachers and for students.

School of Education