Relevant to: research, practice
In this paper, Carrier examines various persuasion techniques used to promote popular education innovations and in particular the role of evidence in this process. The paper examines how seven innovations of different types have been promoted in the mass, professional and social media through a content analysis of 63 documents including non-peer reviewed journal articles, mass media outlet newspapers and online blog posts. The study did not consider the relative merit of each innovation, but rather was interested in how each innovation was promoted. The language that was used to promote the innovations was often emotive or descriptive, rather than evidence-informed. Documents tended to emphasise the appeal and credibility of innovations over and above the evidence that supported, or did not support, them. Where evidence was cited, it was usually anecdotal, related to personal experiences, provided general statistics about problems that the innovation sought to address, or presented statistics related to use of the innovation. By necessity this study was limited to media that presented innovations in a positive light. The research could benefit from comparison with media that was critical of the innovations.
This study offers insight into why some innovations, irrespective of whether or not they are supported by an evidence base, ‘catch on’. From a knowledge brokering perspective, this paper offers an important lesson, particularly for those seeking to maximize the impact of the knowledge they are seeking to disseminate – how knowledge is brokered is at least as important as what knowledge is brokered, if not more important.
This summary was developed from the following paper:
Carrier N. (2017) How educational ideas catch on: the promotion of popular education innovations and the role of evidence. Educational Research, 59:2, 228-240.