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March / April 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to the March/April 2022 Wing Institute at Morningside Newsletter.  In this issue, you will find a discussion of the Heptagon Tool.  This tool is a systematic decision-making guide that leads decision-making teams from exploration of intervention options through implementation.  Additionally, there are four research reviews of recent research that contributes to our understanding of variables that influence effective implementation.

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Wing Institute Commentary

Focus on Implementation: Decision Making Guides

The decision to adopt and implement an intervention is the result of a complex decision-making process in which many variables must be considered. In the face of such complexity, the tendency is to default to personal biases such as confirmation bias, which is the tendency to give greater weight to information that confirms held beliefs about interventions, and ignore information that is not consistent with these beliefs. If the decision making is to be systematic, the task is made easier if there is a guide that explicates the range of decisions to be made.  Several tools have been designed to guide the decision-making process including the Heptagon Tool from the Active Implementation Research Network (Van Dyke, Kiser, and Blasé, 2019).   The tool was designed to answer the fundamental questions, “Is it the right thing to do, and can we do it in the right way?”  These two questions encapsulate the function of implementation science: (1) identify an intervention that solves the problem, and (2) implement intervention with fidelity to obtain benefits from the intervention.  

As described in Figure 1 below, the Heptagon Tool is comprised of seven questions: (1) Need (2) Evidence (3) Fit (4) Usability of the Innovation (5) Capacity to Implement (6) Resource Availability (7) Capacity to Collaborate.  To answer each of these questions, there are a series of more specific questions to answer.  Some of these questions can be answered with direct measures but often the answer depends on a group process to achieve an answer.  For example, to answer the question “what problem is to be solved with a new intervention?” will involve input from a variety of stakeholders who may have very different perspectives on what is the problem.  The ultimate answer to this question involves social influence processes to reach consensus. 

Similarly, there are multiple dimensions to evidence of effectiveness, such as intervention outcomes, level of fidelity required to achieve intervention outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and alignment between research populations and the population of interest in specific practice setting that must be explicated and answered to address the broad question of Evidence (please see Heptagon Tool below in Figure 1).  This is a more complex task than finding experimental evidence of intervention effectiveness.  Reaching agreement on the exact dimensions of evidence that will be considered in selecting from possible alternative interventions again will involve social influence processes.  The value of tools such as the Heptagon Tool is that they identify a number of variables to be considered, and provide an initial set of questions to answer. Other questions will likely emerge as exploration of intervention options continue.  

To date, the emphasis in evidence-based education has been on intervention outcomes. Overlooked is the implementation outcomes that must be obtained before intervention outcomes can be achieved.  The Heptagon Tool identifies the factors that influence the implementation outcomes that can lead to successful intervention.  It is a systematic process of asking and answering questions that incorporates the perspectives of multiple stakeholders.  In the process of asking and answering questions, it becomes clear that implementation is a social process far more than a technical process.  

The Active Implementation Research Network (https://www.activeimplementation.org/) has provided a well-organized summary of the Heptagon Tool (https://www.activeimplementation.org/).  It is suggested that the reader review this resource for more information about the tool.
 

References:

Van Dyke, M., Kiser, L., and Blase, K. (2019). Heptagon Tool. Chapel Hill, NC: ActiveImplementation Research Network. www.activeimplementation.org/resources

News

Contextual fit refers to the extent that procedures of the selected program are consistent with the knowledge, skills, resources, and administrative support of those who are expected to implement the plan.  Packaged curricula and social programs are developed without a specific context in mind; however, when implementing that program in a particular context, it will often require some adaptations of the program or the setting to increase the fidelity of implementation.  One challenge to improving contextual fit is to determine which features of the program or the environment need to be adapted to improve fit.  Read More.

Does Professional Development Impact Data-based Decision Making?

At the core of evidence-based education is data-based decision making.  Once an empirically-supported intervention has been adopted, it is necessary to monitor student performance to determine if the program is being effective for an individual student. Educators report needing assistance in determining what to do with the student performance data.  Often, external support for educators to successfully navigate the decision-making process is necessary because many training programs are not sufficient. Read More

Does Implementation Support Improve Fluency-based math Outcomes?

Evidence-based interventions have the potential to improve educational outcomes for students.  Often these programs are introduced with an initial training but once the training has been completed often there is no additional follow-up support available.  This can result in the educational initiative not being fully adopted and frequently abandoned soon after initial adoption.  Read More

Does a Systematic Decision Making Process Facilitate Adoption?

Education decision makers have to consider many variables when adopting an intervention.  In addition to evidence of effectiveness, they must consider local context, the capacity of the school to implement the program, resource availability, and stakeholder values.  The complexity of the decision-making makes it likely that without a decision-making framework the decision-making task is so complex it is probable that some decision-makers will rely on processes that are influenced by personal biases rather than a systematic approach. Read More

Morningside Academy is seeking an experienced behavioral educator to join our leadership team. The Lead Instructional Coach will support the implementation of the Morningside Model of Generative Instruction (MMGI) in our laboratory school classrooms through the training and coaching of classroom teachers. To learn more, please visit the Morningside Careers webpage.
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