Democratizing Educational Knowledge and Evidence: A Model for Teacher-Driven Change Efforts

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Democratizing Educational Knowledge and Evidence: A Model for Teacher-Driven Change Efforts

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This study investigated teacher-driven change efforts. A review of existing literature posits that the current education system is largely driven by top-down mandates, such as the implementation of evidence-based practices generated by large scale and randomized controlled trials. While these approaches provide the field with important knowledge, it is limited by the topics and conditions of formalized research. This study also posits that vast amounts of knowledge are held by those who are closest to teaching and learning – classroom teachers. This study was conducted using a case study approach to uncover the circumstance of three cases where teacher-driven change efforts were developed, legitimized, and scaled. Analysis showed that the key drivers that helps teachers determine whether a strategy is working is the ongoing feedback they receive from students and the use of their experience and intuition to continually modify their practice. A key driver of the teacher mindset of innovation and continuous improvement is the environment created by school leaders, which includes displaying their own vulnerabilities, developing a culture of empathy and trust, and supporting the professional decisions of teachers. Finally, the study provides evidence that for these teacher-driven change efforts to be scaled, key factors such as systems-level investment and support in navigating the existing accountability system need to be in place. The findings suggest that developing a pipeline of practice-based evidence is not only possible, but plausible. In conjunction with the knowledge of other key stakeholders, such as parents and students, this new proposed model could pave a path towards the use of practice-based evidence in the development of education policy and practice.



University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2023. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisors: Kyla Wahlstrom, Peter Demerath. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 143 pages.

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Zumbusch, Jenelle. (2023). Democratizing Educational Knowledge and Evidence: A Model for Teacher-Driven Change Efforts. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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