Learning at the Boundaries of Research and Practice: A Framework for Understanding Research–Practice Partnerships

Caitlin C. Farrell*, William R. Penuel, Annie Allen, Eleanor R. Anderson, Angel X. Bohannon, Cynthia E. Coburn, Stephanie L. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Given the rapid growth of research–practice partnerships (RPPs), we need a framework that helps the field understand how RPPs can facilitate organizational learning in service of local educational improvement and transformation. Drawing on sociocultural and organizational learning theories, we argue that learning can happen for the organizations engaged in RPPs at the boundaries of research and practice. Such learning is evident when there are changes in collective knowledge, policies, and routines of participating organizations, with implications for longer-term outcomes of educational improvement and transformation locally and more broadly. The degree to which organizations can make use of the ideas from the RPP is dependent, in part, on the presence and design of boundary infrastructure and the preexisting organizational capacities and conditions. We conclude with implications for those engaging in RPPs and future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-208
Number of pages12
JournalEducational Researcher
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • absorptive capacity
  • boundary object
  • boundary practice
  • boundary spanning
  • collaboration
  • educational policy
  • educational reform
  • organization theory/change
  • organizational learning
  • qualitative research
  • research utilization
  • research–practice partnership
  • sociocultural learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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