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Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Importance of Educational Research

The importance of educational research cannot be understated, as it is the lens that practitioners use to examine teaching strategies to identify their educational benefit because the evidence is assessed. Educational research provides us with models of enriched teaching and learning. It also reveals what strategies are less effective in comparison to other approaches.

In the current state of schooling, educational research is not held as a high priority. Teachers are time deprived and pressured to create results without being rewarded with the space to robustly engage the research. Consequently, they are left not using the research or using sloppy methods that are below the level in which they were intended. Bethan Marshall (1998) deduces that educational research is held in low esteem amongst educational facilities and educators themselves and subsequently  fashionable and constructive ideas emanating from academe are promoted amongst the popular consciousness via the organs of the press – broadsheet as well as tabloid.

To demonstrate this, educational models and thoughts such as Project Zero's (Ritchhart, et. al., 2011) visible thinking; Wiggins and McTighe's (2011) understanding by design; Dweck's (2009) growth mindset; Hattie's (2007) feedback; Fullan's (1993) teacher support and morale; James and Gardner's (1995) learning styles; Kagan's structures (1989); William's (2012) formative assessment; and  Halbert and Kaser's (2011) spirals of inquiry albeit they can be attractive, thought-provoking and beneficial. However, much of their research’s outworking has been pushed through the popular media such as youtube, tabloid, television and social media. This is due to the time educators need to engage in the rigorous interplay with the research (Pezaro, 2015). 

Kaestle (1993) agrees with Marshal when he inquires ‘Why is the reputation of research so awful?’ (p.23). Then goes on to state ‘There should be a dynamic, ongoing, mutual exchange of ideas between researchers and the users’. In highlighting this, Kaestle (1993) points out through the use of the words ‘should be’ that there has been a breakdown between the research and the user. However, he presents the possibility by using ‘a dynamic, ongoing, mutual exchange of ideas between researchers and the users’. The link between educational research and practice should be strong (Kaestle, 1993; Slavin, 2002) and as robust as the link between medical research and practice (Weston, 2014).

‘Purposeful, relevant and well-conducted research can make a difference, not only to the ongoing educational research agenda, but also to the day-to-day life of teachers and students in the classroom’ (Kervin, 2006, p.1)

Note: This is part one of a four-part series on the importance of research to the practitioner.
References
Dweck, C. S. (2009). Mindsets: Developing talent through a growth mindset. Olympic Coach, 21(1), 4-7.
Fullan, M.G. (1993) Why teachers must become change agents, Educational
Leadership, 50, pp. 12-17.
Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of educational research, 77(1), 81-112.
James, W. B., & Gardner, D. L. (1995). Learning styles: Implications for distance learning. New directions for adult and continuing education,1995(67), 19-31.
Kaestle, C. F. (1993). The awful reputation of education research. Educational Researcher, 22(1), 23-31.
Halbert, J., Kaser, L., & Koehn, D. (2011). Spirals of inquiry: Building professional inquiry to foster student learning. What is inquiry and how does it work? Examining Linkages in Assessment, Leadership, Teacher and Student Inquiry. Retrieved March 22 from http://www.icsei.net/icsei2011/Full%20Papers/0053.pdf 
Kagan, S. (1989). The structural approach to cooperative learning. Educational leadership, 47(4), 12-15.
Kervin, L. (2006). Research for educators, Cengage Learning Australia.
Marshall, B. (1998). Finding a voice for educational research. Critical Quarterly, 40(4): 111-118.
Pezaro, C. (2015). Teacher as researches: what they do, where to find them and how academic researchers can engage with them. EduResearch Matters, Australian Association for Research in Education. Retrieved March 21, 2016 from http://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=980
Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible: How to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners. John Wiley & Sons.
Slavin, R. E. (2002). Evidence-based education policies: Transforming Educational Practice and Research. Educational Researcher, 31(7): 15-21.
Weston, M. (2014, May 12). 2X Learning: An Overview. Retrieved March 22, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JmOozW4N6k 
Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2011). The Understanding by Design: a guide to creating high-quality units. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
William, D (2012) Embedded Formative Assessment - Dylan Wiliam Retrieved March 22, 2016 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3HRvFsZHoo

 
 
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