The demand for evidence seems to be a growing trend within the field of medicine as well as other fields including that of social work and educational research and practice. Researchers, policymakers and practitioners all appear increasingly concerned with ensuring that practice is based upon the best available knowledge within their particular field; this is often referred to as evidence-informed practice. This development is also representative of a broader objective to create closer links between practitioners and knowledge producers so that research knowledge is made available to practitioners and is compiled and produced to reflect what is needed in the field of practice.
The Danish Clearinghouse for Educational Research was established in autumn 2006 at the Department of Education, Aarhus University.
Our task is to promote evidence-informed practice among educational professionals at all levels, including early childhood education and care, primary and secondary schools, and higher education. Put another way: Clearinghouse should identify, compile and disseminate the best available empirical knowledge about various phenomena within educational theory and practice. First and foremost, this means answering the questions posed by policymakers and practitioners, and tackling the challenges they encounter and observe in the field of practice. Examples of such questions include:
The knowledge compiled often concerns the effects of various methods/approaches/initiatives which are already in use within the field of practice, but they might not yet have an adequate empirical foundation. It can also concern newly developed methods/approaches/initiatives which are still being piloted or which have been applied in contexts which differ significantly from our own. By compiling, assessing, synthesising and disseminating such knowledge, the aim is to help create good teaching and educational theory and practice informed by evidence and founded upon robust and scientifically grounded methods.
But do teachers not already know what constitutes good teaching? And do MPs and local councillors not know what constitutes good educational policy? The answer is that yes they do, by and large; however, our knowledge is constantly developing. New teaching methods emerge and new research findings throw previously accepted knowledge into doubt.
Over the past 40 years, the amount of available educational research has grown constantly. At the end of the 1960s, ERIC, the largest international database covering educational research, contained roughly 55,000 published studies and academic articles on education. Today that number has grown to almost 1.6 million entries. As a result both practitioners and policymakers need help in keeping up with the development of new knowledge.