Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Future of Educational Research

It seems that every couple of years there comes a new research study completed, declaring a correlation between factor 'A' and the learning outcomes of students. This correlation is thus focused on by the media, by parents, by policymakers, by educational leaders, and by teachers to give a reason why students are failing; why students are not making the mark on standardized tests.

When the new world rankings of education, according to PISA results, came out in 2010, various reasons were given to why the U.S. was failing and what needed to be done to gain back our educational prestige.
1. Teacher ability and recruiting
2. Teacher training
3. Socioeconomic background
4. Not enough money in education
5. Family support
6. Time spent in school
8. Lack of the arts within education
9. Too much focus on sports
10. Lack of technology within the classroom
(To mention a few...)

As Christensen et. al (2011) has detailed in chapter 8: Improving Education Research, education will only be improved if the research that strives to improve it, will be radically changed. They state, "No longer will research on best practices or what works best on average across education suffice (p. 186)." Christensen et. al (2011) describe in detail how "most educational research is trapped" within correlative studies (or descriptive research), unable to progress to the "prescriptive stage" which they see as most beneficial. Correlative studies mostly produce outcomes that is beneficial to a certain group of students; the conclusion of the study may benefit some students, it does not benefit all.

Whereas descriptive research might conclude, "On average, teaching reading using phonics produces better results," prescriptive research would say something like, "If the student is strong in this intelligence, then teaching reading with Phonics produces better results; but if the student is strong in this other intelligence, then teaching reading with a Whole Language approach produces superior outcomes." (Christensen et. al, 2011, p. 194)

As I review academic and news articles about the benefits of technology in the classroom, I must continually consider the implications of the actual research. I must ask myself if this would be beneficial for my students. Where would it be beneficial? When would it be beneficial? and Why would it be beneficial? I must look for the complete picture and consider the anomalies within the research. As I have learned throughout my courses, there is not one single reason for the 'failings' of American schools. There is not a single solution that is beneficial for all. Schools must not prescribe blanket solutions in hopes that all students will benefit. To truly move to a "student-centric" classroom, the research that supports teacher training, pedagogy, and educational policies must be transformed.

No comments:

Post a Comment