why do we need research in education
Introduction to Educational Research As a student, teacher, or administrator, consider how many times you have heard, Бevidence-based practiceБ or Бaccording to the research. Б It seems that every new idea in education is research-based, but what does that really mean? This overview is a summary of important concepts and considerations related to research in education. What is Educational Research? A cyclical process of steps that typically begins with identifying a research problem or issue of study. It then involves reviewing the literature, specifying a purpose for the study, collecting and analyzing data, and forming an interpretation of information. This process culminates in a report, disseminated to audiences, that is evaluated and used in the educational community. (Creswell, 2002)
In less comprehensive terms, educational research is an organized approach to asking, answering, and effectively reporting a question. Why Educational Research? Educators need to be consumers (and producers) of research. Creswell (2002) notes the following reasons, describing the various purposes of educational research: 1. Improve Practice Research can suggest ways of improving practice that have been verified with many applications and by many different types of people, which is difficult for practitioners. 2. Add to Knowledge Research can add to what we know about how people learn and what we can do help facilitate the learning process. 3. Address Gaps in Knowledge Research can address areas in which little is know, like perhaps the effects of online versus traditional classroom learning. 4.
Expand Knowledge Research can allow us to extend what we know in ways we never conceived. 5. Replicate Knowledge Research can act as a test to verify previous findings. 6. Add Voices of Individuals to Knowledge Research can add an important perspective for different learning types. Much of the educational research prior to the Eighties is based on able, white, middle-to-upper class males. This is certainly not reflective of our increasingly heterogeneous students, and research helps revise theory and practice to reflect different student needs. These are only a few of the many reasons research is important, particularly to educators. In an increasingly data-driven society, it is vital that educators know how to locate, find, and interpret research on their own. Further, educators need to be able to conduct quality research to examine issues within their own contexts. What are the Basic Types of Research? Briefly, get used to using the following words: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. We will review each on this site, but for now, consider these brief descriptions: 1. Quantitative Research (QUANT) This type of research design is best for БWhat? Б questions. 2. Qualitative Research (QUAL) This type of research design is best for БHow? Б and БWhy? Б questions. 3. Mixed Methods (MIXED)Б integrated, synthesis, and multi-method approaches This type of research design is good for any questions you can think of, particularly those that canБt be answer easily with numbers alone.
Consider the БbestБ way to evaluate student achievement, for example. How is Research Distinguished? The final emphasis point in this brief introduction is fundamental your understanding as a soon-to-be consumer/producer of research. Where most introductory students struggle is in distinguishing primary and secondary sources. WeБll return to this later, but to be sure we are clear from the beginning. Empirical research implies that the study is original and stresses systematic observation. Journal articles and other types of peer-reviewed sources (such as academic ) are the main venue for empirical research. These first publications of empirical research are also referred to as primary sources. In academic settings,. Your best source for journal articles is a. If nothing else, you can visually tell that periodicals, such as newspapers, magazines, online weekly reports (such as ), or even text books, dictionaries, and encyclopedias (like ) are much different. The usual tip is that these types of publications have advertisements, where journal articles generally do not. These are all secondary sources. You might see references to research, but the actual report is in a journal article, as above. will help. A lot of what we do in our daily lives is based on common sense, what we have learnt from others or what we have learnt through personal experience or observation. But sometimes common sense is not the best approach and sometimes there are conflicting theories about what is best or what works in a particular situation.
Moreover, what works in one situation or for one condition might be ineffective or even dangerous in another, or when combined with other measures. Common sense approaches may overlook the impact of external factors which may contribute to what is observed. Even in the domain of healthcare, there are gaps in knowledge, theories about how something might work better and ideas for improvement. As healthcare professionals cannot afford to take risks, research is needed. For, this is even a legal requirement in that pharmaceutical companies cannot obtain marketing authorization (i. e. permission to sell their new drugs) until they have proved to the relevant authorities that the drug is safe and effective. They do this by performing a series of clinical trials. Carefully organized and controlled research enables researchers to test and compare different theories and approaches, explore different methods and learn from other peopleБs experience. It also enables them to rule out or at least consider external factors which might influence their results. For example, before concluding that drinking green tea is good for X, Y or Z, it is important to ensure that the tea drinkers studied do not have something else (i. e. other than drinking green tea) in common such as being more physically active than non-tea drinkers or being vegetarians, which might equally explain the findings. Another advantage to carrying out research is that for a lot of studies, the findings can be recorded numerically and then statistically analysed in order to determine whether the findings are significant (i. e. the extent to which it can be claimed with a specified degree of certainty that they are not just due to chance).
With quantitative studies, the results can usually be generalised to the wider population (e. g. to people with, carers, GPs or lay people in general, depending on the group studied). This is because measures would have been taken to ensure that the group of people who took part in the study were, as far as possible, representative of other people in that category. The advantage to many qualitative studies is that they permit an in-depth investigation into a particular aspect of human experience. They give people the opportunity to explain in their own words how they feel, what they think and how they make sense of the world they live in. Whilst it is not possible to make generalisations about a wider group based on a small qualitative study, in some cases the results may be transferrable to other like situations or groups. However, the advantage to qualitative studies is that they provide rich, meaningful data and insight into the complexity of human experience with all its contradictions, differences and idiosyncrasies. Some address topics which have not previously been researched and may even deal with controversial, sensitive or taboo issues. Some studies also serve to give a voice to vulnerable or minority groups.
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