Adapting implementation science for higher education research: the systematic study of implementing evidence-based practices in college classrooms.
Finding better ways to implement effective teaching and learning strategies in higher education is urgently needed to help address student outcomes such as retention rates, graduation rates, and learning. Psychologists contribute to the science and art of teaching and learning in higher education under many flags, including cognitive psychology, science of learning, educational psychology, scholarship of teaching and learning in psychology, discipline-based educational research in psychology, design-based implementation research, and learning sciences. Productive, rigorous collaboration among researchers and instructors helps. However, translational research and practice-based research alone have not closed the translation gap between the research laboratory and the college classroom. Fortunately, scientists and university faculty can draw on the insights of decades of research on the analogous science-to-practice gap in medicine and public health. Health researchers now add to their toolbox of translational and practice-based research the systematic study of the process of implementation in real work settings directly. In this article, we define implementation science for cognitive psychologists as well as educational psychologists, learning scientists, and others with an interest in use-inspired basic cognitive research, propose a novel model incorporating implementation science for translating cognitive science to classroom practice in higher education, and provide concrete recommendations for how use-inspired basic cognitive science researchers can better understand those factors that affect the uptake of their work with implementation science.