Jan. 18, 2018
I conduct research on knowledge mobilization in community settings. In this work, I aim to identify innovative ways of linking research and practice and examining how to evaluate the outcomes of knowledge mobilization initiatives.
In a recent paper, Evidence to Impact: A Community Knowledge Mobilisation Evaluation Framework, my co-authors and I developed a theoretical framework and applied it in evaluating a pan-Canadian knowledge mobilization initiative for Better Beginnings, Better Futures (Better Beginnings). Better Beginnings is an evidence-based community, university, and government collaborative to promote early childhood development. The knowledge mobilization initiative included workshops delivered to community stakeholders in six provinces and territories.
We drew upon our theoretical framework to guide our examination of how those attending the workshops had applied the information they had gained in their organizations/communities three months after attending the workshop. By interviewing workshop participants, we found that almost all participants had used the information gained from the workshop but were each applying it differently.
We had expected to see communities use the information to inform the development of new programs, but we were surprised by the many different ways participants used the information to inform their work. For some, the Better Beginnings model and evidence-base provided a starting point for conversation and reflection around early childhood programming in their organization and community networks.
One participant mentioned their organization was using the Better Beginnings model as a guide to evaluate their programs and services in order to identify and address gaps. Another participant had drawn upon the Better Beginnings research findings to strengthen grant applications and acquire funding to launch new programs for children and parents. Some participants were involved in actively implementing the whole Better Beginnings model in their communities.
All participants using the information were doing so in ways that advanced the Better Beginnings goals of improving supports for, and promoting the wellbeing of, children and families.
This research was eye opening in terms of how we evaluate knowledge mobilization. We used the findings to revise our framework to ensure it was flexible enough to capture the diverse ways participants used information to advance goals aligned with those of the evidence-based practice.
In my dissertation research, I am continuing to examine questions about how knowledge generated through research can be shared effectively to advance social services and programs in community settings. Specifically, I am examining peer-learning as a strategy for knowledge mobilization to explore how interaction with others in similar roles advances learning and application of evidence-based practices. Through this work I hope to ultimately help improve knowledge mobilization among researchers, community leaders, and policy makers working to address complex social issues.
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