The Research/Practice Relationship in Education

The Research/Practice Relationship in Education

The Research/Practice Relationship in Education EDUC 502 November 21, 2005 Research Design Exercise 1 There has been a growing concern about the lack of teacher involvement in school decisionmaking. Educational reformers believe that teacher participation in a wide range of school decisions would help to create a more

harmonious relationship between administrators and the faculty, which in turn would enhance effectiveness. Before the reformers can initiate steps that would address this issue, they need information about the current status of teacher involvement. What research design should the reformers use to obtain this information? (Discuss in groups) Research Design Exercise 2 A group of teachers is debating the merits of two different mathematics textbooks for

helping middle school students learn the objectives in the MVSC. One group believes Connected Mathematics should be used, while another feels Saxon Mathematics should be used. Describe a study design that could realistically be carried out by the teachers to help settle this dispute. The Disconnection Between Research and Practice Criticisms lodged against educational research:

Research is treated as a purely scientific discipline with no connection to social reality and the most urgent needs of teachers (Malara & Zan, 2002, p. 554); There is a danger of researchers just talking to each other, and thereby ignoring the practical concerns of teachers (Bishop, 1998, p. 34). Kennedy (1997) discussed 4 historical reasons why educational research has failed to influence practice in many cases.

The Disconnection Between Research and Practice Reason 1: The research reports themselves have not been sufficiently persuasive or authoritative. Some criteria for judging persuasiveness and authoritativeness: worthwhileness, coherence, competence, openness, ethics, credibility, lucid writing, originality, coherent reasoning, justification of the research question, justification of methodology,

justification of data analysis, and justification of conclusions. The Disconnection Between Research and Practice Reason 2: Research is irrelevant to practice. Professional knowledge acquired in practice tends to be procedural, specific, and pragmatic, while university-level knowledge tends to be declarative, abstract, and conceptual (Leinhardt, Young, & Merriam, 1995).

The Disconnection Between Research and Practice Reason 3: Ideas from research have not been accessible to teachers. Sowder (2000) identified conventions for reporting research as part of the cause for the gap between research and practice, stating, The manner in which research is reported in journals important as this style may be in convincing our peers that the research meets expected standards, is a turnoff for most teachers (p. 3).

Bishop (1998) suggested that researchers should make it a priority to disseminate research results in media accessible to teachers, such as teachers journals and newspapers. The Disconnection Between Research and Practice Reason 4: The education system itself is intractable and unable to change, or it is conversely inherently unstable, overly susceptible to fads, and consequently unable to engage in systematic change

The fourth barrier between research and practice, pertaining to the nature of schools, seems to stem from the phenomenon that schools generally do not operate in a coherent manner (Cuban, 1990). This can make it difficult for even a wellconceptualized research study to have an impact upon practice. Group Discussion Questions Which of the four causes for the barrier between research and practice exerts the most influence? Why? In designing your own research proposals,

how will you attempt to overcome each of the four barriers? Discuss in groups of 5 for about 20 min. and have one group member record your thoughts and then report out to the rest of the class. Homework Exercises Name each of the four historical reasons for the disconnection between research and practice in education. Describe how a researcher might work to

overcome each of the four barriers.

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