Symbiotic Space: Exploring the Nexus of Rigor, Problems of Practice and Implementation

Carol A. Kochhar-Bryant

Abstract


Across the United States, doctoral programs in education are in deep reflection about their purpose, content, and expected outcomes for graduates. Many are in the throes of redesign and testing to better differentiate between two pathways to the doctorate—one for scholars preparing for research and academic roles and one for scholar-practitioners who wish to focus on problems of practice and implementation. This paper explores a major source of challenge among faculty as they engineer both research-oriented and practitioner-oriented degrees, and that is the interconnections among the constructs of rigor, problems of practice, and implementation.  The paper examines the tension between the “gold standard” of random assignment studies and causal inferences, and the more recent frames of inquiry in which research is translated to practice through shared pathways that engage multiple stakeholders. Several questions are explored: Are “rigor” and “relevance” opposing constructs? What is rigor and should there be a new standard for scholars navigating within a symbiotic space – the arena in which they seek to impact highly complex social problems within authentic field-based settings? Is rigor subjective, or can it be measured? These questions are examined within the context of implementation science and through the lens of the lived experience of Education faculty who find themselves in a creative crucible as they navigate the redesign process.


Keywords


rigor, relevance, symbiotic space, problem of practice, implementation science, redesign

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/ie.2017.25

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Copyright (c) 2017 Carol Anne Kochhar-Bryant

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