Which is more valuable, research-based evidence or real-time/results-based evidence?
Let’s start with a definition of each:
Research-based evidence – The term evidence-based is often in the educational and psychological literature as the level of evidence that supports the efficacy, generality, and use of a practice as indicated by research and usually includes the research of groups of individuals over-time and trending over-time.
Real-Time/Results-based evidence – measured in real-time based on results at the organizational level and based on results at the individual level
Research-based evidence relating to bullying, cyberbullying, sexual assaults, suicides and many other student safety related incidents can originate from many different sources. Research studies provide information gathered over-time from students and others to reveal trends and to reveal behaviors of different groups of people (gender, age, etc.). Trends can be helpful to researchers and to others to help identify different behaviors, validate the need for behavioral changes and/or reveal the need for better solutions to achieve different and better results.
However, trends from research-based evidence may not be as helpful to an individual that is being relentlessly harassed, intimidated or bullied…the victim just wants someone to intervene and stop the attacks as soon as possible.
Students (and adults too) can only take so much harassment before they hurt themselves (suicide, cutting, drugs, violence, etc.) or they hurt/kill others. We also know from lessons learned and post-incident reports that most tragedies and real-world incidents were PREVENTABLE. Unfortunately most schools (and most organizations) are not equipped to proactively prevent incidents, only REACT to incidents once they have occurred.
I can add from my 30 years of risk management, risk mitigation and prevention experiences that most organizations are wasting a lot of time, money and resources on REACTING to incidents rather than PREVENTING incidents.
Lessons learned from my own experiences reveal some key differences between research-based evidence and results-based evidence. Research-based evidence is more general and more reactive because the evidence and trends are a summary of groups of people over time. Since many of the risks school administrators must deal with today, for example cyberbullying, are changing so fast that it is extremely difficult for research-based evidence to keep pace with timely feedback and solutions that help schools and organizations proactively prevent…Consequently, most schools and organizations are stuck in reaction mode which is expensive, tragic and unacceptable. (See blog on Virginia Tech’s enormous costs in “reacting” to the VT Massacre that could have been prevented if they had been equipped to “proactively prevent”)
What are some examples of real-time results? Intervening on a child’s suicidal thoughts that he shared with a classmate, to prevent that child from committing suicide.. Intervening when a student says they are planning to hurt others in retaliation for being harassed or bullied, before they go through with their plan. Intervening when a student is harassed/bullied on a school bus,in a hallway,in a locker room or other locations, to prevent continued bullying and get all parties involved the help they need. Intervening when an LGBT student is being relentlessly harassed and bullied based on their sexual preferences, to prevent the student from hurting themselves or others and bringing awareness to the intolerance that is occurring.
So which is more important? Research-based evidence or Real-time results?
I think both are important and both should be utilized by all decision makers, school leaders and organizational leaders too. Unfortunately educators, researchers and government resources seem to ignore the real-time results suggesting an immediate success is not a huge success since they are used to analyzing data over a long period of time. I hope educators, researchers and government resources will contact me to discuss the real-time results that we are gathering from our clients…because saving one child from attempting suicide or from making a decision that may ruin their life is a “huge success” in the their world, in the real world and in my world.