Using Principles of Evidence-Based Practice to Improve Prescriptive Recommendations
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We draw on the evidence-based practice (EBP) literature to consider the relationship between empirical results reported in primary research journals and prescriptive recommendations for practice based on those results. We argue that the relationship between individual empirical findings and practice should be mediated by two additional steps in which empirical findings are aggregated and evaluated, and policy decisions are made by multiple stakeholders with possibly competing value systems to determine how synthesized empirical evidence may best guide practice. We discuss three best practices in the EBP literature that promote generalizability, including aggregation of individual empirical findings, translating aggregated findings into a plan for EBPs, and developing field-based implementation guidelines. We outline a logical sequence in which empirical findings are peer reviewed, aggregated and compared across moderating variables, used to develop EBPs, and deployed by a team of instructional experts after a careful policy review and cost analysis using generalization criteria spelled out in the literature. We argue this process is the best strategy for making prescriptive recommendations regardless of the professional outlet they appear in because it is most likely to be based on replicable data and matched to the field-base context by instructional experts.
KeywordsEvidence-based practice Four-step process Valid generalization Prescriptive recommendations
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