Full Title Research, policy and practice

Short Title RPP

Code RSCH09015
Level 09
Credit 10

Author Pender, John
Department Social Sciences

Subject Area Research
Attendence N/A%

Evidence-based practice has become a favoured approach for those in the social professions - but it is not without its critique. This module introduces learners to the politics of evidence and research and to the contested roles and ideological positioning of local, national and international research generators. It looks at the spread of evidence-based approaches from the field of medicine into human services and education. It identifies some of the key funders, commissioners and producers of social and educational research in Ireland. It examines the 'hierarchy of evidence' and the application of randomised controls trials [RCTs] and systematic reviews to the social and educational sectors. It reviews the nature and processes of monitoring and evaluation research and examines the strengths and weaknesses of action research.

Indicative Syllabus
Evidence-based practice
The origins of 'evidence based practice' and its relationship to other forms of knowledge: eg practice-based. Critical assessment and evaluation of 'evidence-based practice'. Use of EBP in early years and social care settings. Critical review of randomised control trials (RCT) in ECCE contexts. The role of the Centre for Effective Services [CES], Childhood Development Initiative [CDI] and other research and monitoring bodies. The links between EBP and professional accountability and EBP and continuous professional development.

Social and educational research in Ireland
A critical examination of the social construction of social scientific and an indepth review of the history of social reserach and social scientific knowledge in Ireland, with a focus on the role of the social scientific disciplines; 'think tanks'; faith-based organisations; government research agencies and funders (eg Health Research Board; Crisis Pregnancy Agency, ESRI, Atlantic Philanthropies and other philanthropic bodies, EU sources) and the private research industry. Commissioning and dissemination of research and the linkages with policy and practice.

The 'hierarchy of evidence'
The concept of the 'hierarchy of evidence'. Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research. Cochrane and Campbell systematic reviews. The application of randomised controlled trials [RCTs] to the educational and social fields. Longitudinal research and the Growing up in Ireland study. As selection of appropriate and topical case studies such as: children and the 'obesity epidemic'; sexualisation of children; depression; ADHD/Autism; HPV anti-cervical cancer innoculations; robotisation of care etc.
Monitoring and evaluation
The role of monitoring and evaluation in the early years. The four generations of evaluation practice. Participatory models of elaluation. Use of computer-based data collection in the early years setting. The strengths and weaknesses of 'documentation'in the early years. The emerging role of 'big data' (data analytics) in the futures of ECCE services planning and delivery. Assessing the potential contributions of neuroscience, epigenetics and behaviourlist offerings on ECCE policy formation.

Action and participatory research
Critical assessment of 'action research' in agencies, organisations, communities and settings: participatory action research, action science and learning (single and double-loop); emancipatory research, appreciative enquiry, cooperative enquiry; communities of practice; reflexivity and practice.

Learning Outcomes
On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to
  1. Critically evaluate evidence-based practice and its application in the early years and the broader field of social policy and practice

  2. Critically evaluate the Irish 'funding landscape'in terms of organisations, lobby groups, key funders, dominant paradigms and the relationship between research, policy and practice

  3. Outline the 'hierarchy of evidence'and be familiar with techniques of randomised controlled trials [RCTs], systematic review and longitudinal research

  4. Demonstrate knowledge of key techniques of monitoring and evaluation.

  5. Demonstrate a critical knowledge of participatory models of research, including action research

Assessment Strategies
Participants will be required to work colloboratively and individually in the production to original contributions. To this end, participants will be expected to generate: (a) an individually authored 1000 word review of an ECCE relevant 'Think Tank' and (b) a group assignment of 4000 words on a topcial ECCE centric reserach, policy and/or practice related issue.

Module Dependencies
Pre Requisite Modules
Co Requisite Modules
Incompatible Modules

Coursework Assessment Breakdown %
Course Work / Continuous Assessment 100 %

Coursework Assessment Breakdown

Description Outcome Assessed % of Total Assessment Week
Critical review of ECCE relevant 'Think Tank' 1,2,3 30 Week 5
Design, manage, promote and evaluate a campaign or information awareness raising activity of significance to the ECCE sector. 4,5 70 Week 11

End Exam Assessment Breakdown

Description Outcome Assessed % of Total Assessment Week

Distance Learning Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Weekly Workload

Total Average Weekly Learner Workload 0.00 Hours

Part Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Weekly Workload
Lecture Distance Learning Suite online 18 Fortnightly 9.00

Total Average Weekly Learner Workload 9.00 Hours

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Weekly Workload

Total Average Weekly Learner Workload 0.00 Hours

Online Learning Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Weekly Workload
Workshop Flat Classroom residential workshop 18 Once Per Semester 1.20

Total Average Weekly Learner Workload 1.20 Hours

Book Resources
Abelson, D. (2009) Do think tanks matter? Assessing the impact of public policy institutions. (2 nd ed.) Ontario: McGill-Queens University Press.

Aveyard, H. and P. Sharp (2009) A beginner's guide to evidence based practice in health and social care. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Becker, S. and A. Bryman (2012) Understanding research for social policy and practice: Themes, methods and approaches. (2 nd ed.) Bristol: Policy Press.

Bishop, G. and S. Mockabee (2011) Taking the pulse of public opinion: Leading and misleading indicators of the state on the nation. Springer.

Boaz, A. & R. Pawson (2005) 'The perilous road from evidence to policy: Five journeys compared'. Journal of Social Policy 34 (2) pp. 175-194.

Boaz, A., L. Grayson, R. Levitt & W. Solesbury (2008) 'Does evidence-based policy work? Learning from the UK experience'. Evidence and Policy 4 (2), pp. 233-53.

Boaz, A., S. Fitzpatrick & B. Shaw (2009) 'Assessing the impact of research on policy: a literature review'. Science and Public Policy 36(4), pp. 255-270.

Boddy J., A. Boaz, C. Lupton & J. Pahl (2006) 'What counts as research? The implications for research governance in social care'. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 9 (4), pp. 1364-5579.

Corcoran, M. and K. Lalor (eds) (2012) Reflections on crisis: The role of the public intellectual. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy

Donnison, D. (2009) Speaking to power: Advocacy for health and social care. Bristol: Policy Press.

Farrelly, T. (2013) 'Evidence-based practice in social care'. In K. Lalor & P. Share (eds) Applied social care: An introduction for students in Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

Fitzpatrick, J., J. Sanders & B. Worthen (eds) (2012) Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines. Harlow: Pearson.

Flintoff, J-P. (2012) How to change the world (The School of Life). London: Macmillan.

Freeman, R., S. Griggs & A. Boaz (2011) 'The practice of policy making'. Evidence & Policy, 7 (2), pp. 127-136.

Gilbert, N. and P. Stoneman (2015) Researching social life. London: Sage.

Glasby, J. (ed)(2011) Evidence, policy and practice: Critical perspectives in health and social care. Bristol: Policy Press.

Goldacre, B. (2014) I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that. London: Fourth Estate.

Gunnarson E. et al (2015) Action research for democracy: New ideas and perspectives from Scandinavia. London: Routledge.

Haynes L., O. Service, B. Goldacre & D. Torgerson (2012) Test, learn, adapt: Developing public policy with randomised controlled trials. London: Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team. [www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/62529/TLA-1906126.pdf]

Hearn, G., J. Tacchi & M. Foth (2009) Action research and the new media. Hampton Press.

Hill, M. (2012) The public policy process. (6 th ed.) London: Longman.

Holtz-Bacha, C. and J. Ströbäck (2012) Opinion polls and the media: Regulating and shaping public opinion. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hudson, J., S. Lowe and D. Horsfall (2016) Understanding the policy process: Analysing welfare policy and practice (3 rd ed.). Bristol: Policy Press.

Hutchinson, D. & B. Styles (2010) A guide to running randomised controlled trials for educational researchers. Slough: National Foundation for Educational Research. [www.nfer.ac.uk/nfer/publications/RCT01/RCT01.pdf]

John, P. et al (2013) Nudge, nudge, think, think: Experimenting with ways to change civic behaviour. London: Bloomsbury.

Libby, P. (2011) The lobbying strategy handbook: 10 steps to advancing any cause effectively. London: Sage.

Lindsay, B. (2007) Understanding research and evidence-based practice. Exeter: Reflect Press.

Locock, L. and A. Boaz (2004) Research, policy and practice-worlds apart? Journal of Society and Social Policy 3 (4) pp. 375-84.

Lunn, P. & F. Ruane (eds) (2013) Using evidence to inform policy. Dublin: Economic and Social Research Institute.

May, T. (2011) Social research: Issues, methods and research. (4 th ed.) Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

McGilloway, S., T. Bywater, G. Ní Mháille, M. Furlong, D. O'Neill, C. Comiskey, Y. Leckey, P. Kelly, & M. Donnelly (2009) Proving the power of positive parenting: A randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of the Incredible Years BASIC parent training programme in an Irish context (short-term outcomes). NUI Maynooth/Archways. [eprints.nuim.ie/1816]

McNiff, J. and A. Whitehead (2011) All you need to know about action research. (2 nd ed.) London: Sage.

Moran, M., M. Rein and R. Goodwin (2008) The Oxford handbook of public policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Moule, P. (2011) Making sense of research: An introduction for health and social care practitioners. London: Sage.

Nutley, S., S. Morton, T. Jung & A. Boaz (2010) 'Evidence and policy in six European countries: diverse approaches and common challenges'. Evidence & Policy 6.

O'Hare, L., K. Kerr, A. Biggart & P. Connolly (2012) Evaluation of the effectiveness of the Childhood Development Initiative's Mate-Tricks pro-social behaviour after-school programme. Belfast: Centre for Effective Education, School of Education, Queen's University Belfast. [www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforEffectiveEducation/Filestore/Filetoupload,347916,en.pdf]

Oliver, C. (2008) Developing advocacy for children and young people: Current issues in research, policy and practice. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Owen J. & M. Alkin (2006) Program evaluation: Forms and approaches. New York: Guilford.

Parsons, P. (2016) Ethics in public relations: A guide to best practice. London: Kogan Page.

Pawson, R. & N. Tilley (1997) Realistic evaluation. London: Sage.

Pirie, M (2012) Think tank: The story of the Adam Smith Institute. London: Biteback Publishing.

Proctor, R. and L. Schiebinger (eds)(2008) Agnotology: The making and unmaking of ignorance. Stanford University Press.

Rich, A. (2010) Think tanks, public policy and the politics of expertise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ridley-Duff, R. and M. Bull (2011) Understanding social enterprise: Theory and practice. London: Sage.

Salkind, N. (2013) Statistics for people who (they think) hate statistics. (5 th ed.) London: Sage.

Share, P., M. Corcoran & B. Conway (2012) 'Irish sociology'. In Sociology of Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

Spicker, P. (2006) Policy analysis for practice: Applying social policy. Oxford. Polity.

Wadsworth, Y. (1998). Everyday evaluation on the run. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Wadsworth, Y. (2010). Building in research and evaluation: Human inquiry for living systems. Walnut Creek [CA]: Left Coast Press.

Webber, M. (2014) Applying research evidence in social work practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Welner, K., P. Hinchey, A. Molner and D. Weitzman (eds) (2010) Think tank research quality: Lessons for policy makers, the media and the public. Information Age Publishing.

Wodorski, J. & L. Hopson (2011) Research methods for evidence-based practice. London: Sage.

Zetter, L. (2014) Lobbying: The art of political persuasion (3 rd ed.). London: Harriman Home Publishing.
Other Resources
Url Resources
Centre for Effective Services
National Foundation for Educational Research (UK)
Centre for Effective Education (Queens University Belfast)
Childhood Development Initiative
Growing up in Ireland
Additional Info