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Our approach and framework

We aim to promote more research on implementation, and promote more implementation of research.

To help the bridge the current gap between research and implementation, we will encourage researchers to study implementation and policymaking processes and questions, and we will find ways to capture and codify the tacit knowledge of implementors. In doing so, we will create new types of resources for practitioners and academics.

Our intellectual framework

The four key areas

With the ultimate goal of millions of children learning (shown on the far right), we will examine four different areas (shown in blue circles and described below), and the interrelation between them.  

Diagram of part of our intellectual framework showing (as circles) the four key areas of efficacy, efficacy+, policy plans, and practice at scale. Additionally the ultimate goal of effectiveness (learning at scale) is shown on the far right.

Efficacy (top left): The body of existing evidence from controlled studies showing the efficacy of certain interventions in achieving better learning outcomes. An example would be early studies of targeted instruction (where children are taught on the basis of their understanding, rather than what is prescribed for their age), which showed that it improved learning outcomes.

Efficacy+ (top right): The body of evidence where the efficacy of such learning interventions has been shown in different contexts and settings, including through government delivery, thus growing the body of evidence that such interventions could be scaled up and ‘pressure testing’ that evidence. An example would be the studies of targeted instruction that have been undertaken in different countries and by government-funded teachers, and still shown results.

Policy plans (bottom left): Plans, ideas and actions within government aimed at getting children learning. These may be early plans, adopted policies, frameworks, regulations or even laws – but they have not yet been implemented at scale.

Practice at scale (bottom right): What is actually happening in education systems and in large numbers of individual classrooms. This may or may not reflect the best evidence, and may or may not reflect government policy.

The interrelations

The interrelations between these four areas (represented below by arrows) will be crucial subjects of study and action for the What Works Hub for Global Education. Below the diagram, the arrows are explained in terms of what they represent in the real world.

Diagram of our intellectual framework showing (as circles) the four key areas of efficacy, efficacy+, policy plans, and practice at scale, and showing two-way arrows between every combination of circles. Additionally the ultimate goal of effectiveness (learning at scale) is shown on the far right.
Arrows from ‘efficacy’ circle:

To efficacy+: How do controlled studies get repeated or scaled up across different places and in different models, by researchers and/or by governments?

To policy plans: How does evidence from controlled studies feed into government policymaking? What are the barriers to government policymaking being evidence-based?

To practice at scale: Sometimes, teachers will pick up on studies and put these ideas into practice in the classroom, leapfrogging the process of these ideas becoming government policy. Under what circumstances does this happen, and is it an effective implementation route?

Arrows from ‘efficacy+’ circle:

To policy plans: How does the pressure-tested evidence represented in the Efficacy+ circle feed into government policymaking?

To practice at scale: Sometimes, teachers will pick up this pressure-tested evidence and put the proven ideas into practice in the classroom, leapfrogging government policy. Under what circumstances does this happen, and is it an effective implementation route?

Arrows from ‘policy plans’ circle:

To practice at scale: How do government plans and actions (evidence-based or otherwise) actually get put into practice in hundreds of classrooms – and when they don’t, what has gone wrong? What are the most effective implementation routes or models?

To efficacy/efficacy+: Governments may commission or generate their own efficacy evidence as part of the policymaking process.

Arrows from ‘practice at scale’ circle:

To efficacy/ efficacy+: What is happening in practice will feed back into the body of available evidence about education.

To policy plans: Does what’s actually happening in classrooms feed back into policy plans, and how?

A large number of these real-world processes and interactions will be subjects of study for the What Works Hub for Global Education:

Taking just two examples, we will study decision-making within the policymaking process; and we will study how policy plans become (or fail to become) large-scale practice in schools. 

The Hub will also play an active role in some of these processes and interrelations:

Our work on evidence translation and evidence use will strengthen the pipelines from the evidence represented in the efficacy and efficacy+ circles into policy and large-scale practice. Our implementation science work will directly increase the evidence available in the evidence+ circle.

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