We know much about who and what scholar-practitioners are, but we know little about how to develop individuals into scholar-practitioners. Given this, we need to move the conversation beyond descriptive attributes and expend time and effort to identify methods to cultivate these professionals. Doing so will help change the perception that there are theory-to-practice gaps and ultimately improve the strength and value of the human resource development field to other disciplines.
This article is in response to Ruona and Gilleys call for moving beyond bemoaning the theory-practice gap and starting providing constructive solutions to close it. Using two real-life cases for illustration, I present a strategy for cultivating individuals in applied fields into effective scholar-practitioners.
This article provides a potential path for trainers to integrate theory and research into practice, for faculty to incorporate practical contexts into educational opportunities, and for managers and organizations to adapt evidence-based solutions to a complex, rapidly changing environment.