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Education Research Meets the “Gold Standard”: Evaluation, Research Methods, and Statistics after No Child Left Behind

  • Mack C. ShelleyII
  • Larry D. Yore
  • Brian Hand

The fields of education, health sciences, and social sciences internationally have faced calls for better understanding of available datasets and research results from a variety of political, professional, and academic communities. Politicians, bureaucrats, administrators, and other managers desire compelling, evidencebased results and generalizations that they can use as foundations for public policy actions, to make decisions about public spending on research, effective practices, and available services, and to outline future policy directions, strategic plans, and funding demands. Sadly, some handbooks on research used in education do not mention these pressures or the need to craft research reports to inform and persuade a variety of audiences other than like-thinking academics—and they may only briefly consider the issue of generalizability. This is unfortunate in that much of the impact of high-quality, rigorous inquiries are lost or their results are having very limited effect to inform and persuade the various stakeholders because (a)the language used does not make access easy and (b) the findings may be viewed as isolated info-bits anchored strictly to unique problems, contexts, or settings not applicable widely or to a particular target audience's concerns or constituents. The call for evidence-based curricula, instruction, and professional education needs to be taken seriously; effort needs to be asserted on policy and decision makers to ensure their definition of evidence means quality, valid, and trustworthy evidence— not simply quantitative evidence of any level of validity and reliability.

Nowhere are these pressures more clearly defined than in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education and in literacy, mathematics, and science education. Jonathan Osborne (2007), in his remarks as Past President of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), called for more armchair science education; he claimed that 50 years of research, curriculum development, and implementation have not presented consistent and compelling patterns of outcomes. This realization by others and the pressures have provided much of the momentum behind several national task force reports on education research, reforms for science education, language education, and national or provincial/state laws or policies regarding education practice, research ethics, instructional materials, and school funding.

Keywords

Science Education Education Research Science Education Research Australasian Science Education Research Association Academic Assessment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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