An exploration of individual, job, and organizational characteristics associated with district research leaders' knowledge brokering work


  • Samantha Jo Shewchuk University of Delaware
  • Elizabeth Farley-Ripple University of Delaware



district research leaders, central office administrators, school district, knowledge broker, research use


The role of district research leaders (DRLs) in central offices has emerged as a strategy for improving the creation, flow, and use of research knowledge in decision-making. However, there is limited information about the responsibilities, opportunities, and challenges inherent in these roles. This exploratory qualitative study features document analysis to examine the individual backgrounds, job demands, and organizational contexts of DRLs. The result of this study suggest that multiple pathways to the DRL role exist, but few include formal training in knowledge brokering. Further findings suggest that DRL jobs are complex and entail diverse tasks, but share a focus on research leadership and coordination, identifying and obtaining relevant research information, and facilitating evidence-informed change. Moreover, organizational contexts varied in supportiveness for knowledge brokering work. Overall, there was limited evidence of alignment across individual, job, and organizational characteristics, signaling an opportunity to better define and support those in DRL roles.


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Author Biographies

Samantha Jo Shewchuk, University of Delaware

Samantha Shewchuk is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Research Use in Education at the University of Delaware. She specializes in knowledge mobilization efforts to address the research–practice gaps across public service sectors. Her interests professionally and academically revolve around the role of knowledge brokering and its role in fostering evidence-informed practice. She is the former program manager for RIPPLE—Research Informing Policy, Practice, and Leadership in Education—a program of research aimed at learning more about how to improve linkages between research, policy, and practice in education across Ontario. Dr. Shewchuk is an Ontario Certified Teacher.

Elizabeth Farley-Ripple, University of Delaware

Elizabeth Farley-Ripple is an associate professor of education in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. Her research expertise is in policy analysis and evidence-based decision-making, and she has worked on a range of educational and social policy issues, including research use in at all levels of the system, administrator mobility, school and teachers’ use of data, teacher quality and effects, and issues of equity in a variety of student outcomes. Currently, Dr. Farley-Ripple serves as the Director for the University of Delaware Partnership for Public Education and co-leads the IES-funded Center for Research Use in Education.


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How to Cite

Shewchuk, S. J., & Farley-Ripple, E. (2022). An exploration of individual, job, and organizational characteristics associated with district research leaders’ knowledge brokering work. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (153).