“Research” as Pawn to Support the Status Quo

The Learning Circuits Blog: “Research” as Pawn to Support the Status Quo Clark Aldrich posted for the first time in a while today and offered a perspective on the call for research that I wish I had read a day ago.

An administrator in my AB 75 workshop today was asking me about what research there was to show that the technologies we were talking about (including ipods, blogging, and video games) actually impacted student achievement. My initial response was that there was very little formal research, but that the anecdotal evidence was overwhelming. (I completed this with an emotional appeal along the lines of “when you see the kids eyes light up you know its working.”) I then suggested that perhaps the test scores might not be what we find most valuable, and gave my usual 21st century skills pitch.

Thankfully, Christine Olmstead, my co-presenter, then shared some (anecdotal) evidence of scores going up in her district when new technologies (including blogging) were implemented. I acquiesced that of course there are some technologies that will improve student test scores, too, and then shared some of the studies I did know of. I wish, though, I had been able to share Clark’s perspective: “the phrase ‘we need to do research’ more often than not is a code phrase for, ‘we just don’t want to move ahead’ without having to justify the action, or to appear in favor of something while trashing it.”

And it’s funny. I’m finding writing quality posts difficult tonight. This may be partially due to the weight of wanting to keep up with all the things I want to write about… but it may also be part of the process… thinking and creating is a bit hard. Unfortunately, in the case of this post for instance, I often have already had the ideas, and just need to capture them for the blog and the typing/composition takes time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t feel nearly as productive.

7 Responses to ““Research” as Pawn to Support the Status Quo”

  1. Jean-Claude Bradley Says:

    Mark – since I do research in chemistry and educational technology I can assure you that being productive in each requires a completely different mindset. In chemistry you are trying make a compound and you want a reproducible result for the minimum cost and effort. But you can’t do that with education because human beings are not molecules. By reducing the value of an educational approach to an average number (like improved test scores) is very counter-productive because it will encourage teachers to hype the results of their experiments to satisfy the gatekeepers (employers, editors, grant managers) and then lose credibility. I got to watch a student spend 2 hours on an organic chemistry game last week and show me by the questions that he came up with that he was understanding the material on a new level. The statistical value of that is zero but I have no doubt as to the value of that experience for that particular student.

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