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Education research on trial : policy reform and the call for scientific rigor / edited by Pamela Barnhouse Walters, Annette Lareau, Sheri H. Ranis.


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Publication date:
New York : Routledge, 2009.
  • Book
  • x, 242 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Acknowledgements ... iv List of Contributors ... v Introduction ... 1 Pamela Barnhouse Walters and Annette Lareau Part I: The Call for Rigor ... 22 The first set of reprinted documents below traces the development of the charges that education research is low quality and of limited usefulness. The second set highlights the key elements of the federal reforms to improve education research. The final set provides examples of some of the major responses from the education research community. The Problem Carl F. Kaestle, "The Awful Reputation of Education Research." ... 23 Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst, "New Wine, New Bottles." Address at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association... 30 Selection from Request for Proposals for Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Programs in the Education Sciences, Issued by the Institute of Education Sciences in 2004 ... 43 Remedies for Improvement The Definition of "Scientifically Based Research" in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 ... 46 The Definitions of Scientific Validity in the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 ... 48 Mission and Functions of the Institute of Education Sciences, as Detailed in Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 ... 50 The What Works Clearinghouse Standards for Evaluating Existing Research Studies of Education ... 52 Reactions from the Education Research Community ... 53 A selection from the 2002 report from the National Research Council, Scientific Research in Education... 54 Margaret Eisenhart and Lisa Towne, "Contestation and Change in National Policy on 'Scientifically Based' Education Research." ... 64 The American Educational Research Association's "Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research in AERA Publications." ... 72 Part II: The Politics of Knowledge ... 87 The Politics of Science: Battles for Scientific Authority in the Field of Education Research ... 88 Pamela Barnhouse Walters Walters argues that the current debates about the quality of education research and the best ways to improve it do not turn only on issues of the scientific merits of competing positions. The debates are part of political and social struggles between groups of scientific experts, and between policymakers and scientific experts, over who gets to decide what counts as science and to claim scientific legitimacy within the research field. A History of Efforts to Improve the Quality of Federal Education Research: From Gardner's Task Force to the Institute of Education Sciences ... 142 Maris Vinovskis Vinovskis shows that the current critique of the quality of education research is related in important ways to recurring dissatisfaction on the part of federal lawmakers and bureaucrats with the decisions and priorities of the federal agencies that provide the bulk of federal funding for education research. Part III: Seeking Rigor-- Finding Rigor ... 191 Assessing Quality in Educational Journals ... 192 Barbara Schneider Schneider addresses the question of whether the quality of education research is as bad as its critics charge by comparing the scientific standards and processes in place at major education journals with the standards and processes in place in journals in other fields generally considered to be more scientific. She finds the education journals to be comparably rigorous. Can Non-Randomized Studies Provide Evidence of Causal Effects? A Case Study Using the Regression Discontinuity Design ... 228 Larry V. Hedges and Jennifer Hanis While in sympathy with the call to make education research more rigorous, Hedges and Hanis show that randomized controlled trials are not the only way to rigorously assess causal relationships about education. They illustrate the usefulness of regression discontinuity models for assessing causality in conditions in which random assignment is not possible. Blending Quality and Utility: Lessons Learned From the Quality Debates ... 260 Sheri Ranis Ranis shows that the debates about the quality of education research have been propelled by and conflated with debates about the utility of education research in ways often unacknowledged. She demonstrates that research utility became a "resonant problematic" that provided a powerful justification for the movement to improve the quality of education research. Part IV: Toward a More Comprehensive Understanding of Science ... 286 Narrow Questions, Narrow Answers: The Need to Broaden the Methodological Scope of Education Research ... 287 Annette Lareau Lareau argues that the education sciences movement has misapplied the medical model to education research. She suggests there is a need for more attention to a broader array of questions about meaning, process, and interactional dynamics and greater attention to issues of implementation. A Quixotic Quest? Philosophical Issues in Assessing the Quality of Education Research ... 289 Denis C. Phillips Philips demonstrates that the current drive to establish a single model of scientific research in education takes an overly-simplistic view of the nature of "science, " in the process ignoring the complexities inherent in studying the intrinsically social and cultural dynamics of schooling. He calls the search for a single model of scientific research a "quixotic quest.".
  • (source: Nielsen Book Data)
Publisher's Summary:
It is not an exaggeration to say that the field of education has been under attack. Many, particularly in Washington, D.C., have proclaimed the research to be shoddy. They have called for new 'scientific' standards for research. Randomized control trials have been promoted. In many of these discussions, the only criterion is making a more rational and scientific approach to education research. Since the federal government plays a leadership role in defining the terms of education debates, this critique is important. It stands to radically reshape research and possibly school priorities in the future. The essays in this book take up this important topic. They offer critical insight into how this debate came to flourish. Some of the authors take issue with core assertions of the debate; other are sympathetic. Taken together, they help to broaden and deepen our understanding of the efforts to revamp the field of education research and, ultimately education. The chapters also discuss the factors that facilitate, and impede, research from having an impact on policy. It covers teaching and learning goals. It helps illuminate the relationship between education research and policy. It critically examines key assumptions of federal legislation particularly the call for scientific rigor in the No Child Left Behind Legislation. It helps students understand the broader intellectual context of this crisis in education.
(source: Nielsen Book Data)
Walters, Pamela Barnhouse.
Lareau, Annette.
Ranis, Sheri H.

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