Saturday, December 10, 2011

Application of Resarch to Educational Practice

Based on some observations Educational Practice cannot rely blindly on research. Both fields have their own goals. According to D.C Philips Research uses statement about what is and Educational Practice uses statements involving "ought to be". For example Research uses statement such as : "X is Y"; "the probability for X to have the feature Y is p". Practice uses statements such as: "Person A ought to do Z to person B". It is logical  that from statements involving the use of "is" conclusions about "ought" or "should" cannot be deduced.

Questions involving "is" can be well answered by educational research while those involving "ought to" imply the use of dialogue to solve them. Researchers cannot expect their findings about "is" to be transformed in immediate change without being criticized. Likewise practitioners cannot look to research for prescriptive advice. However practitioners can use the researcher's findings in their dialogue about solutions to practical problems.

Limitations of Research knowledge

Research findings has several limitations. One of them is that results generated from a sample cannot be generalized to all the elements of a population. Some research studies do a few cases and generalization has to be done by considering each of the other additional cases. Therefore practitioners can look to research for advice but they should ask themselves: "Are these findings applicable to my situation"?

Another limitation of research knowledge is that its discoveries are filtered with a certain worldview. Studies about intervention in the classroom may have have high performance test achievement as learning outcomes while neglecting other outcomes such as self-reliance, humanitarian attitudes,etc. Some research studies are done with a certain view of teachers as proved by Lampert's observations. She stated that teachers are considered like "technical production manager" whose role is is to monitor the efficiency of learning. The teacher's role is to apply researcher's knowledge and policies without the consideration of other instructional factors.

Lampert advances a different view of teachers as dilemma managers. This view originated from her own research studies revealing that classroom teaching involves many problematic situations with competing interests that the teacher has to deal with.

Lampert's view of teaching agrees with other professionals who studied professional practice. Donald Schon is one of the most influential of these individuals. His theory stated that a "flawed model of technical rationality" dominates thinking about the relationship between research and practice. He describes the model of Technical Rationality as professional activity consisting in "instrumental problem solving made rigorous by the application of scientific theory and technique".

Shon explained the reason why this model is flawed. He stated that research in the positivist tradition deals with a "stable, consistent reality about which generalizations can be made and applied, whereas professional practice involves "complexity, uncertainty, instability, uniqueness and value conflict."

Schon and many others advise that practitioners have to engage in reflection-in-action, not in the application of research knowledge in order to deal with the "messiness" of their work. One of the chief elements of reflection-in-action "is a kind of experimentation based on the practitioner's analysis of each unique situation they confront."

Schon's model of reflection-in-action doesn't prevent the application of research knowledge for professional action. The implication of the model is that research knowledge should not be used exclusively as a basis for professional action. In fact researchers found that "the classroom is marked more by sameness of practice than by diversity and uniqueness". In fact research knowledge might allow practitioners to be in a better position to accommodate the differences among the constituencies."

 The Importance of Basic Research

Some practitioners believe that educational research is too theoretical and too focused on basic processes of learning. They think that priority should be given to applied research based on problems confronted by practitioners. This argument raises questions about the relative value of basic and applied research in education.

While the contribution of applied research to the improvement of educational practice seems obvious an important study in the field of education gives reason for reconsideration of this viewpoint. The remarkable findings of this study are related to the fact that a high percentage of basic research studies was essential to the development of current treatment of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.


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