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Scientific Research in Education (2002) / Chapter Skim
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4 Features of Education and Education Research
Pages 80-96

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From page 80...
... In this chapter, we describe how our principles of science translate in the study of education a rich tapestry of teaching, learning, and schooling. In particular, we briefly discuss five features of education that shape scientific inquiry, and describe how these features affect research.
From page 81...
... For example, the social and cultural work of sociologists and cultural anthropologists often do not lend themselves to the controlled conditions, randomized treatments, or repeated measures that typify investigations in physics or chemistry. Phenomena such as language socialization, deviancy, the development of an idea, or the interaction of cultural tradition with educational instruction are notoriously impervious to the controls used in the systematic investigations of atoms or molecules.
From page 82...
... , investigators do not seek to distance themselves from research participants, but rather to immerse themselves in the participants' lives, with conscious attention to how the investigator affects and contributes to the research process. Such strategies were developed to allow the researcher to observe, analyze, and integrate into the research process unexpected, constantly changing, and other potentially influential aspects of what is being studied.
From page 83...
... In technical terms, this means that the "error limits" associated with scientific inferences (not unlike confidence intervals typically cited in public opinion polls) tend to be larger in social and behavioral research, often due to the "noise" caused by difficulties precisely measuring key constructs and major contextual factors.
From page 84...
... In the exercise of their craft, educators draw on, and are influenced by, practical wisdom, professional relationships, and values, as well as scientifically grounded theory and fact. Indeed, it is this real world of research in education that led columnist Miller to lament,"If only education reforms came in a pill" (2001, p.
From page 85...
... The question of why education research has not produced the equivalent of a Salk vaccine is telling. After all, medical research is something of an engineering science in that it brings theoretical understanding in the life sciences to bear on solving the practical problems of prolonging life and reducing disease.
From page 86...
... In California, the mathematics and science standards crafted in the late 1980s which served as important examples for the current national mathematics and science standards were abruptly changed because of political shifts. Just as the state was gearing up its curriculum, teaching, and accountability system to implement the new standards in a systematic way, the political environment changed, and so did the standards and accountability system (Kirst and Mazzeo, 1996~.
From page 87...
... Thus, researchers engaged in longitudinal research in schools are often faced with substantial shifts in the student population and thus their study sample which complicates the tracking of students' learning trajectories over time. Variability of Educational Programs Researchers typically must accommodate a rapidly changing reform environment that tends to promote frequent changes in the core education FEATU RES OF EDUCATION AN D EDUCATION RESEARCH 87
From page 88...
... Consequently, trying to answer a seemingly straightforward question like "Are charter schools more effective in improving student achievement than traditional public schools? " is not particularly useful if one wishes to understand the impact of instructional innovation because the educational environments and programs that fall under the rubric of"charter schools" are so varied that there is no common instructional intervention to evaluate.
From page 89...
... . In subject areas such as science and mathematics, where accomplishment in later courses is heavily dependent on the quality of early learning, preK-12 school structures can be designed to either facilitate successful remediation or to systematically exclude increasing numbers of students form these courses over time.
From page 90...
... Schools serve students who are new immigrants often unfamiliar with American life beyond what they might have seen in movies as well as many Hispanics,African Americans,Asian Americans, and American Indians whose families have lived here for generations and who have varying degrees of English proficiency. Along with linguistic diversity comes diversity in culture, religion, and academic preparation.
From page 91...
... To build theory, formulate research questions, design and conduct studies, and draw conclusions, scientific education research must attend to such contextual conditions. This attention to context also suggests that advancing understanding in complex and diverse education settings may require close coordination between researchers and practitioners, interdisciplinary work, and the interplay between varying forms of education research.
From page 92...
... have joined to conduct research collaboratively on how students understand statistical concepts (e.g., distributions) in order to provide advice to curriculum developers Jackson, 1996; Day and Kalman, 2001)
From page 93...
... The need for care and oversight when studying vulnerable populations like children sometimes entails justifiable compromises in the conduct of scientific study and the progress ofthe scientific enterprise more generally. Ethical issues involving the protection of human participants in research especially childrenhave real consequences for the types of designs, data collection, and consequently, results that can be generated from education research.
From page 94...
... Relationships As in other applied fields such as agriculture, health risk reduction, crime, justice, and welfare education research relies critically on relationships between researchers and those engaged in professional practice: teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, university deans, school board members, and a host of others. The education research enterprise could not function without these relationships, and its health is correlated strongly with the extent to which these practitioners are willing to participate in or otherwise support research.
From page 95...
... But they are often essential to develop the trust that is necessary for researchers to perform their jobs adequately and to engage education professionals in a mutually enriching dialogue about the role of research in practice. A current National Research Council effort is attempting to build the capacity of infrastructure for such long-term partnerships to foster research that is useful to practice (see National Research Council, 1999d)
From page 96...
... We elaborate how the guiding principles and features of education are united within a variety of study designs in the next chapter, where we discuss, and provide examples of, how education researchers approach particular types of inquiries.


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