The Case of a Knowledge Mobilization Intermediary, Connections for Students, in an Education Practice Setting: Connecting Policy to Practice
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This study is an attempt to understand knowledge mobilization (KMb) efforts using a KMb intermediary, Connections (multidisciplinary transition teams to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorders), in real practice settings. This study explores the experiences of six teachers, specifically, their awareness and implementation of a research-embedded education policy (Policy Program Memorandum No 140), their perceptions of three KMb strategies (networks, products, and events), and their perceptions of enablers and barriers to KMb efforts within Connections. I conducted a qualitative multi-case study (n=6) that allowed me to organize the data by specific information-rich cases for an in-depth study of the interactions among policy, KMb efforts, and practice. Because the KMb intermediaries occurred across multiple school sites, these cases allowed me to explore the similarities and differences in KMb efforts. Each intermediary consisted of a multidisciplinary team (7-10 participants from different disciplines with a variety of expertise). Teachers cited several factors influencing implementation of PPM 140 into practice: the role of parents, the availability of time and human resources to implement the policy, and the perception that this policy is implemented with a targeted group of students at the possible expense of other students. Teachers identified three main enablers (leadership, the availability of multidisciplinary expertise, and the availability of resources) and three main barriers (relationships, misunderstanding of roles and contexts, and inequity of PPM 140) to KMb efforts. The development of relationships was the most powerful enabler and the lack of relationships was the most powerful barrier to all other activities that occurred within the intermediary. Despite the availability of knowledge mobilization frameworks, there are still very few empirical studies of how knowledge is actually mobilized in education practice settings. This study adds to the KMb literature in three ways. First, it adds to the limited research on KMb intermediary efforts to facilitate implementation of a research-embedded education policy. Second, this study adds to the literature on how knowledge is mobilized in practice settings through the use of three specific KMb strategies (networks, products, and events). Third, it establishes a more comprehensive understanding of enablers and barriers of research-policy-practice interactions by examining how the KMb process unfolded in real practice settings. This study can provide an example of ways in which efforts can be intentionally planned at system, organizational, and individual levels for more effective KMb.