Conceptualizing Research–Practice Partnerships as Joint Work at Boundaries

William R. Penuel*, Anna Ruth Allen, Cynthia E. Coburn, Caitlin Farrell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


This article presents a conceptual framework for analyzing how researchers and district leaders perceive and navigate differences they encounter in the context of research–practice partnerships. Our framework contrasts with images of partnership work as facilitating the translation of research into practice. Instead, we argue that partnership activity is best viewed as a form of joint work requiring mutual engagement across multiple boundaries. Drawing on a cultural–historical account of learning across boundaries (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011) and evidence from a study of two long-term partnerships, we highlight the value of the concepts of boundary practices in organizing joint work and boundary crossing as a way to understand how differences are recognized and navigated. The framework has implications for how partnerships can surface and make productive use of difference in organizing joint work and for how funders can better support the work of research–practice partnerships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-197
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Education for Students Placed at Risk
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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