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Getting Beyond The Research To Practice Gap: Researching Against The Grain

Elizabeth Bondy, Mary T. Brownell

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Special education researchers have used considerable financial and human resources to work with teachers to close the gap between knowledge of research-based practices and their sustained use in classrooms. While some researchers have been successful in collaborating with teachers to achieve sustained use of classroom interventions, the gap between research and practice has remained a source of considerable concern to the special education community. In this paper, we use Cochran-Smith and Lytle's (1999) conceptual analysis of teacher learning to argue that the perceived research to practice gap may be the result of how many educational researchers have conceptualized and operationalized their research with teachers. Instead, we propose a more collaborative way of approaching research that involves teachers in the generation of new knowledge, not just its application to the classroom. We offer this collaborative approach as a way to transform practices in schools and classrooms and better meet the substantive intent of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.