About our project

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Q Project

About our project

We aim to change the debate about evidence in education from a focus on quality evidence to a focus on quality use.

In an Australian first, the Q Project’s goal is ‘to understand and improve high-quality use of research evidence in Australian schools in order to enhance the quality of teaching’.

During this five-year partnership between Monash University and the Paul Ramsay Foundation, the project will involve close collaboration with school leaders, teachers, policy-makers, evidence brokers, researchers and other key stakeholders across Australia.

The Q Project is distinctive in:

  • being the first large-scale Australian project to tackle this issue;
  • focusing on quality of use as well as quality of evidence;
  • exploring evidence use as a professional learning challenge;
  • seeking to understand and improve evidence use;
  • working with education professionals to develop practical tools
  • working with system leaders to drive policy impact.

Our timelines

The Q Project will involve four main strands, each addressing a different aspect of quality use of research evidence in education.

Strand 1: Conceptualisation of best practices (2019-2020)

This stage will involve reviewing and synthesising what is known globally about high-quality evidence use in education, health and social care as the basis for developing a best practice framework for Australian educators.

Strand 2: Investigation of how it actually works in schools (2020-2021)

This stage will involve examining the evidence use practices in 100 schools across four states (NSW, QLD, SA, VIC) in order to generate practical examples and empirical insights into high-quality evidence use in varied settings.

Strand 3: Development of improvement interventions (2022-2023)

This stage will involve co-designing and trialling with 100 educators across four states (NSW, QLD, SA, and VIC), interventions to support high-quality evidence use in practice.

Strand 4: Engagement and communication campaign (2019-2023)

For the duration of the project we will bring together key players within Australian education to spark strategic dialogue and drive system-level change around evidence use in education.

Our rationale

The Q Project is squarely focused on raising the quality and professionalism of teaching in Australia by developing the capacity of our teachers and school leaders to use research evidence effectively as part of their work.

Addressing this capacity challenge within Australian education is critical - here's why.

1. Internationally, evidence use is a feature of high-performing education jurisdictions

Internationally, there is widespread agreement that the use of research evidence by teachers and schools is a hallmark of high performing education systems (BERA, 2014). It is also recognised that using evidence in educational practice is far from procedural – it is skilled work (Earl and Timperley, 2009). However, support for evidence use by front line professionals in education is less well established than in other fields, such as medicine (Sharples, 2013). There is therefore a real need for more concerted efforts within education to bridge the evidence-practice divide by strengthening the capacity of schools, teachers and leaders to access and use research evidence systematically and productively.

2. In Australia, evidence use is valued but not well understood and not well supported

The Australian Productivity Commission made clear that it is only by developing an ‘evidence-based approach’ that we can achieve ‘a better allocation of resources and improved outcomes’. Similarly, the Gonski 2.0 Report recommended the establishment of ‘a new national evidence and research institute’ for Australian schools. There have, however, been very few studies of educational evidence use in Australia (Prendergast and Rickinson, 2019). Little is known therefore about what evidence use looks like in Australian schools and how its quality can be enhanced.

3. Therefore, Australian education needs quality evidence use to drive quality education

Despite clear expectations around evidence use in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and School Leaders, there is very little professional learning currently available on this topic. In addition, while guidance on what counts as quality evidence is available, there are no such frameworks on what counts as quality use of evidence.