Teachers report that behavior management is one of the greatest challenges in the profession and they feel unprepared to deal with difficult behavior. One of the questions to be answered is where do teachers get information about behavior management? Recently, Beahm, Yan, and Cook (2021) conducted a mixed methods study to answer this question. It is important that teachers rely on practices that have a good empirical base. Failure to do so may have no effect or make the problem worse. If we understand the resources teachers rely on and why, then more systematic, informed approaches can be taken to assure they are relying on credible information. This may help us close the research-to-practice gap. Beahm et al. surveyed 238 teachers to learn about the resources they relied on for behavior management information. They also did focus groups with 10 of the teachers to gain insight into why they preferred some resources more than others. Teachers preferred getting information from colleagues by a large margin (91%) relative to any other source, including research articles, the internet, administrators, and professional development. Ninety-two percent reported the information from colleagues was understandable. Teachers had a positive perception of all attributes of the information from colleagues (trustworthiness, usability, accessibility, and understandability). Participants in the focus group reported that colleagues were understandable because they used familiar language and avoided jargon. In addition, colleagues were perceived to provide exact details on implementing the recommended practice.
Participants in the focus group indicated colleagues were more trustworthy because they were going to only describe practices they had used successfully. The participants also thought that colleagues had knowledge of their classrooms and students.
Finally, colleagues were perceived as providing information that was usable because they likely had developed easy-to-use forms and data collection systems. In other words, the colleagues were an efficient source of information, saving the classroom teacher from the extra work of developing forms and data sheets for themselves.
These data are consistent with the recommendations of Rogers (2003), who reported that practices were more likely to be adopted if they were recommended by a credible source. Colleagues use language that is already familiar and have in-depth knowledge of the circumstances that the teacher is concerned with.
Researchers will be well served to attend to these data if they want to close the research-to-practice gap. They should develop materials that rely on the language teachers already use, create step-by-step user guides, and provide video samples of the practice in actual application. Finally, researchers should recruit teachers to be champions for a research-based practice rather than relying on researchers to disseminate practices. This would represent a change in the way researchers go about doing business. It will be worth the effort because the research-to-practice gap has been persistent for decades. It is time we try new ways to disseminate effective practices.
Beahm, L. A., Yan, X., & Cook, B. G. (2021). Where Do Teachers Go for Behavior Management Strategies? Education and Treatment of Children, 44(3), 201-213.
Link to article:
References: Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press